The lowly spider is a strong hero in this traditional story about Muhammad.
During the Prophet's flight from Makkah (Mecca) to Madinah (Medina) on the journey called the Hijra (Hejira), he stopped in a cave with his follower, Abu Bakr, to escape his pursuers. As the story goes, birds (usually pigeons, but here called doves) nested outside the cave, and a spider wove a web to fool the tracker sent by Makkah’s leaders. The animals instinctively thought that their presence would cause the tracker to think that Muhammad couldn’t be inside. (In similar stories, spiders also save King David and the baby Jesus with their webs. The image of a tiny creature standing up against stronger forces unites disparate faiths.) An unobtrusive asterisk and plus sign are used when Muhammad and Abu Bakr’s names are mentioned to indicate that Muslims should say a blessing after the Prophet’s name and the name of his companion. This is explained on the inside cover, but the blessings are omitted. Black silhouettes are cleverly juxtaposed against intensely colored watercolors, working within the Muslim injunction against showing human images. A source note would have been helpful, placing the story within the context of Muhammad’s life.
Although a little too wordy for younger listeners, this is one of the more attractive books on Islam’s origins. (Picture book/religion. 6-9)