[Interview] Fatimah Agha on her project Quran for Kids that aims to inspire and motivate children around the world
Fatimah Agha’s new venture Quran for Kids aims to instil the love of the Quran into children who usually run away from it, through a creative series of podcasts and videos.
She recalls her own childhood where the Quran plunged her into a “world of wonders”, as she searched for answers to intriguing questions, such as the fascinating stories of past Prophets and personalities, or amazing facts about the animal kingdom. Yet the Quran lessons she received were not at all engaging causing her to resent it.
Triggered by her own childhood experiences, and her two young daughters Zainab and Zahra, Fatimah began Quran for Kids. This is a series of ten minute podcasts almost everyday, where Fatimah and her two daughters explore different verses and extract lessons from the Quran.
Read my interview with Fatimah as she shares her top tips in producing compelling audio and visual content, her ideas for podcasts and videos, and the challenges in her work and how she overcomes them.
Why did you start Quran for Kids? What and/or who inspired you?
I wanted to inspire my children to be fascinated by the Quran, and it would be a mistake on our part to not introduce the Quran to our children in a good way. We as parents, teachers and mentors have a great responsibility to instil the love of truth in our children. Quran is a manifestation of the truth and as modern day educationists and scientist would agree, that first impressions need to be curated with great deliberation.
“Whatever touches my heart in my everyday routine and through my personal interaction with my children is what inspires me to prepare each podcast.”
Quran for kids is an effort to not only create a beautiful bond between children and the Quran but also the point where we can unite as Muslims. We need to instil love of humanity and unity in the coming generations and I use this forum to make sure that all of our children can unite through the Quran.
How do you come up with ideas for your videos?
I like to pick out Quran ayats (verses) that are relevant to children’s everyday practices of good manners mostly, but now for example we are exploring the lives of the Prophets. Whatever touches my heart in my everyday routine and through my personal interaction with my children is what inspires me to prepare each podcast. We look forward to doing more videos in the future.
What are the challenges you face and how do you overcome them?
The biggest challenge while preparing a 10-minute, talk that includes my 9 and 6 years old daughters is to do it in a way that we don’t need to edit it. This is because this way the conversation stays natural and not artificially planned.
“We need to instil love of humanity and unity in the coming generations and I use this forum to make sure that all of our children can unite through the Quran.”
At the same time my aim is for my own kids to enjoy it and that wouldn’t happen if we keep rehearsing or keep on redoing it. I don’t want my kids to get affected by some sort of “fame fever” or lose their focus from their own lesson and worry too much about creating a perfect show.
The best way to juggle all of that is to make sure that we plan the lesson a little bit before the recording and also that I’m well rested and fresh to take on each podcast, because siblings are siblings and some days are good and some days not so good. You know what I mean.
What advice would you give to others creating similar videos?
Although my current focus is on podcasts, the most important thing with kids is to keep the duration short and sweet, and include information and material, which keeps the children hooked.
Words, expressions, even examples should be pertaining to the things that children can associate themselves with. For instance names of cartoons, fashion trends or activities that most kids can relate to in their everyday routine can help keep their attention.
“There is nothing correct or incorrect with art. Passion and dedication can be enough sometimes!”
Monologue can be a real turn off, so more interactive the show the better with lots of lows and highs in voice to break the monotony that can sound like a lecture. Even psychologists have shown it scientifically that our system of attention adapts to monotones and switches off.
What inspired in you the love of painting and what do you need to be a good artist?
I’ve loved painting since I was a kid. I’ve never really took special classes but I was a keen student and I observed my art teachers closely. I remember trying to replicate great paintings or works of mentors. I would keep trying until I would perfect that technique. Nowadays YouTube and Google can help one enhance and learn from scratch. Passion and dedication can be enough sometimes!
I always tell my children there is nothing correct or incorrect with art. However taking art classes where they teach various techniques with use of brushes, papers and even special chemicals can really help to enhance painting skills.
Can you share an image of your favourite painting?
I love this painting the most because nature has always inspired me. I want my work to expand the imagination, and include the love of God in everything and everywhere. I believe that art and Islam should help to unite us and broaden our view of the world.
… And your favourite or most popular podcast/video and why?
I really enjoyed this podcast Quran For Kids #3 Lets Understand Others because this is what I mainly feel passionate about and want to spread to the world: a message of peace love and unity which comes from the Quran.
Last but not least, what do you think of Sufi Comics?
Sufi Comics was like a dream project coming alive. It really gave me this hope that this world is full of new ideas and opportunities. Ideas can be made to come to life. I am in awe of Sufi comics and a die-hard fan. Even though my daughters are young they too love Sufi comics and read them no matter how deep. So far the Wise Fool of Baghdad is their favourite. We really look forward to more from Sufi comics.
Passionate and involved in creative arts and religious studies from a young age, Fatimah is always seeking new ideas and opportunities to implement her creativity. She is an artist and painter, having sold over 200 paintings for kids around the world. She has also been a fashion designer for the past six years, designing a wide range of modest clothing. At the moment she is pursuing a degree in Psychology online from California Southern University.
Follow the Quran for Kids podcasts hereSubscribe to Quran for Kids YouTube channelCheck out Fatimah’s website/online shop for more creative work
Have you read our previous interview with creative artists? Check them out here!