Utpal Borpujari

February 8, 2010

‘Islamic Games’ teaching real, peaceful ways of the religion

By Utpal Borpujari

“Who were the honoured guests of Prophet Ibrahim?” “What does fasting teach us?” “How near is Allah to us?” Answer these and many other questions culled from the Quran correctly, and you can emerge winner in a unique board game.  From a distance it looks like any other popular board game in a nattily designed box. But the name – “Quran Challenge Game” – sets it apart instantaneously. Yes, from the Quran to the Hadith and from the Hajj to information about the Madinah and the world’s greatest mosques, knowledge about Islam is now coming in a new format, courtesy an Indian publishing house that specialises on Islamic literature. The idea is to not only provide a fun-filled way to young, convent-educated children learn about the religion but also project the peaceful face of a religion that has been much maligned in recent times, thanks to its projection by some quarters as being synonymous with terrorism.

Apart from the Quran Challenge Game, which also has a version for kids in the 5-10 years age group, there are games like the Hadith Challenge Game based on the sayings of Prophet Muhammad, Madinah Salat Fun Game based on the meaning and message of the five daily prayers, the Hajj Fun Game on the meaning of Hajj, and the Great Mosque Game that provides information on the world’s most famous mosques. The games consist of 100 cards containing 300 questions, replies to which take the player ahead. As two to four players play the games, they impart knowledge on various aspects of Islam through a fun way.

All the games have been developed by Islamic scholar Saniyasnain Khan, who has also written a number of books on Islamic themes for children and adults alike. Khan, the son of noted scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, has also developed Danish, Dutch Malay and Arabic versions of some of the games. It’s definitely quite a unique effort to take Islam’s message to people, especially the younger generation, but the games are not all that Goodword Books, the Delhi-based publishing house helmed by Khan, is focused on. Soon coming out is a children’s encyclopaedia on Quran, apart from, of course, one more game based on Islamic history. “The game on Islamic History should be out in the market by the middle or end of this year. We are also about to publish a children’s encyclopaedia on Quran. I am writing the entries which have been approved by religious scholars,” says Khan.

What is rather surprising is that these games are selling more abroad than in India, though Khan says people in southern India have opened up to the idea of the games. Perhaps this has to do with the fact that the games are not available in any regional language as yet. Agrees Khan, “Our main focus is exports, and we hardly sell these products in India. We are open to the idea of bringing the games out in regional languages also, but we don’t’ have marketing system to market them in regions. Maybe we will do it sometime in the future,” says Khan. Another idea Goodword is toying is to bring out Internet versions of the games which can be downloaded or played online. “That is something for which there are a lot of inquiries. It will also take the games to many more people,” says Khan, who has authored a number of attractively-designed children’s story books culled from Islam’s history.

“The games are a new concept for people, especially for those whose children go to English-medium schools. But while people from other religions too buy these games abroad, in India it is not so,” Shah Imran Hasan of Goodword Books. “Anyone wanting to understand the real meaning of Islam in a fun way can play the games. Goodword publishes books that highlight the real and peaceful face of Islam, and these games as well as various books, including the children’s story books, are part of that goal,” says Hasan, who manned the Goodword stall at the 19 New Delhi World Book Fair. In fact, the publishing house has been participating in various international book fairs, including those at Frankfort, Dubai, London, Qatar, Tehran and Abu Dhabi and getting good response to its games, books and DVDs on Islamic themes.

(An abridged version was published in Deccan Herald, www.deccanherald.com, www.deccanheraldepaper.com, 07-02-2010)



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