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Teach children ‘Islam’, it is not a ‘terrifying religion’: Author Anita Nair

Kolkata: Acclaimed Indian novelist Anita Nair, who has brought to the fore tales from Quran for children, says it is necessary for children to know that Islam is not a “terrifying religion” as it is made out to be.

Talking about her recently-launched “Muezza and Baby Jaan: Stories From the Quran”, Nair said one needs to start combating negative perceptions about Islam with children.

“We need to start with children and it’s easier to teach children that Islam is another religion like Hinduism or Buddhism, the scripture is like every other scripture. There is nothing that makes Islam a terrifying religion that people make it out to be,” Nair told IANS here on the sidelines of the Apeejay Kolkata Literary Fest.

“I know a lot of Muslim writers wanted to do it but were hesitant because it would have been considered a propaganda. I am a Hindu so its not a question of propaganda, it’s only about opening up the religion to the public,” the best-selling author noted.

Nair, author of “The Better Man” and “Ladies Coupe”, also pointed to the absence of writings on Quran.

“There isn’t anything written about the Quran. If you look at Bible stories, if you look at Hindu mythology, if you look at Jataka tales, everything is available out there, but there is nothing on Quran. Increasingly, in this time and age, terrorists are using the Quran as a scapegoat to explain what they are doing and that is very sad indeed,” Nair said.

The Kerala Sahitya Akademi awardee says her research on the Quran (for an earlier book titled “Idris: Keeper of The Lights) shows it is a treasure trove of beautiful stories.

“Based on my reading of the Quran, (it actually means reading), you realise it’s a treasure trove of beautiful stories that explain how to live your life and how to do the right thing. Nowhere does it say that you have to be violent. What has happened is that the interpretations that have come thereafter have corroded the actual essence of Quran,” she said.

“I have based this book on a 13th century book by Ibn Kathir, which is basically stories from the Quran, and then I have added on things and embellished it,” Nair said.

Hoping adults read the book as well, Nair also vouched for balanced view of things when it comes to school textbooks.

Asked about the recent controversy over the West Bengal government’s apparent attempts at “secularising” school textbooks, Nair said: “I am not so sure about that because these children have to grow up in the real world which is not essentially secular, so the approach has to be balanced. And you can’t protect the child from not being exposed to the realities of life.”