Iblis: An Islamic Tale

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This harsh, Islamic version of the creation story could terrify the most recalcitrant child into obedience. With the complicity of the peacock, Iblis (Satan) bribes the serpent with promises of immortality, then hides between the serpent's teeth and thus sneaks into Paradise, where he tempts Eve to eat forbidden wheat. Adam succumbs, too. When God casts his creatures out of the Garden, Adam falls into Sri Lanka, Eve into Jeddah, ``and Iblis fell into the River Eila, which flows into Hell'' (Iblis is shown screaming as he falls into what appears to be molten lava). Young's abstract, nightmare-inducing chalk drawings, though unarguably skillful, magnify the horror--not the moral--of the story; indeed, the moral is obscured by the unyielding focus on Satan as protagonist. Ages 3-8. (Apr.)
Children's Literature - Rivkah Lambert
Iblis (pronounced e-blees) is the retelling of the Biblical story of the banishment of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden. This particular retelling focuses on the traditional Islamic version of the story in which Iblis is the embodiment of the devil. The illustrations are dramatic and skillful, but some are very disturbing and not recommended for children under six.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-In the Islamic version of Adam and Eve's fall, Iblis (Satan) holds center stage. He has tried, readers learn, for 500 years, to sneak into Paradise. Finally, perceiving the serpent's vanity, Iblis promises her immunity from illness, old age, and death in return for being smuggled into Eden in the nick of her teeth. The same vanity is Eve's undoing. Iblis appears to her in dazzling splendor, claiming that his transformation from human to angel was wrought by the forbidden fruit (here a grain of wheat). God's retribution swiftly follows and punishments-pain and loss-are meted out to the humans, their animal companions, and Iblis himself. Young's dramatic pastels and watercolor artwork juxtaposes the dark shadows of evil with neon-bright swaths and splotches of electric color. The images, abstracted-or depicted in such extreme closeup as to give the effect of abstraction-recall the Islamic injunction against representation, although departing from it. The three pages depicting the serpent's corruption, merging the faces of Satan and snake, are particularly effective. Based on a 9th century scholarly version, the text is charged with the tension, while Young's rich paintings bridge our temporal and cultural distance from the source to bring its message powerfully home.-Patricia Dooley, formerly at University of Washington, Seattle
Elizabeth Bush
Readers familiar with the Genesis account of the expulsion from Eden will be fascinated by the contrast of details in this Islamic version. Iblis--Satan-- dwells beyond the gates of Paradise. Through cunning and deceit, he plays upon the vanity of the peacock and serpent and gains entrance, eluding the angel who guards the gate with his flaming sword. Promising her youth and health, Iblis tricks Eve into eating the fruit of the wheat tree. Once she and Adam have eaten, God's wrath drives them from Paradise, condemning Eve to painful childbirth, the peacock to loss of his melodious voice, the serpent to loss of her legs, and forcing Iblis to "be cast back into the torments of all eternity." But expelled through the gates of Repentance and Grace, the human pair are reminded these gates are also entrances back into Paradise. Young's pastel-and-watercolor images deftly capture the elusive, shape-shifting Iblis as he transforms from a black-horned shadow to a fanged face hidden between the serpent's teeth, to a bright and seductive angel, to the green-tailed monster cast into the river of Hell. Striking cover art introduces the motif of the peacock's feather; deep in the feather's dark "eye" is the hint of Iblis' fanged manifestation. In a thought-provoking reversal of color usage, the erring creatures are driven from the dark, protective shadows of Paradise into the fiery glare that awaits them outside. Oppenheim's fluid retelling is based on writings of a ninth-century Islamic scholar. Introductory notes indicate her source and briefly compare this version with the Judeo-Christian story. A unique offering and an outstanding aid to understanding the continuity between Islamic and Western culture.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780152380168
  • Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
  • Publication date: 4/28/1994
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 11.28 (w) x 10.29 (h) x 0.44 (d)

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