[Interview] Daniel Dyer on his new project ’99 Names of Allah’ that aims to awaken children’s innate empathy & creativity
Passionate to share the love and wisdom that is at the heart of Islam and other spiritual traditions, Saimma and Daniel Dyer of Chickpea Press are working hard on a new book.
‘The 99 Names of Allah’ creatively introduces younger readers to names that describe God, complemented with sacred traditions, activities, and reflections.
I ask Daniel Dyer, the illustrator behind this colourful guide about what makes this book unique, how they have explored Islamic spirituality, and how we can help bring this book to life.
What inspired this book?
The beauty and power of the Names drew me. Something also told me that children need to explore them – not just adults. It began as a simple poem to orientate children to the Names, and then evolved into something much broader and, insha’Allah (God willing), much deeper.
What is unique about ‘The 99 Names of Allah’ book?
I don’t know of any children’s book in English that explores the 99 Names of Allah in way that I would wish for my children. For me, an exploration of the Names needs to be centred on the heart, on awakening children’s innate empathy, creativity and insight. It needs to help children to understand Allah’s attributes and to appreciate the places where these attributes are best reflected: in themselves and the natural world.
As well as helping to foster a spiritual and ecological awareness, it needs to help them appreciate the diversity of modern societies. It should help them identify with all humanity, not just Muslims, and perhaps help them to appreciate that there is more than one path to God. It also needs to be imaginative, colourful and richly illustrated in order to really engage.