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The story behind the story

Most of us have grown up listening to “Jack & the beanstalk”, ”Snow White and the 7 dwarfs” and “Hansel and Gretel”.

We tell these stories to our children before bedtime and feel we are good parents. We are fulfilling our parental duties, spending quality time with the young ones and if in the telling of a fairy tale, it helps to transport us to a happier and more innocent place in the past, where stress, obligation, duty and depression are words never even heard of, all the better. Fairy tales offer the greatest form of escapism.

We are transported to a world where the only limits are self imposed by your own imagination. To fly like “Peter Pan”, to be rescued from a hum-drum existence by a dashing prince. Beauty in distress is always a great draw card. Indulging in a little harmless day dreaming, where’s the harm?

Have we ever sat back and examined the morals behind these fairy tales? Do we really want our dear children to grow up with negative impressions of step-mothers? Do we really want them thinking that the best and most expedient way to defeat an enemy is a little poison in an apple or running away from home and living with strangers in a forest is an option when things become unbearable at home? Oh! Of course it has to be an enchanted forest! Is stealing is acceptable if it’s from a giant who demands of his servants to prepare large amounts of food to feed his enormous appetite?

We sit back and wonder where have we gone wrong when our children lie to us. We lament the fact that they steal. Woe be on little Nafeesa who innocently kissed a boy in school. To her, she was just skipping steps. Instead of going via the frog, she kissed her prince charming directly. Life is too short to go via the frog. This was much quicker. We sit in our Taleem groups, or Musjid parking lots lamenting the plight of our children.

Is it not time to conduct a thorough examination of the value systems that we are inculcating with these “seemingly” innocent fairy tales? Ironically most of these tales are the work of the brothers “Grim”. This might be just the place to start our perusal. Their name says it all. We do admit that they possessed a macabre sense of humour. Add the penchant for the fanciful, and it sets the scene for a very unusual mix. Are we too blind to see it or have we been hoodwinked to such a great extent? The best place to hide something is in plain sight. Could this be their idea of a joke? We, in our ivory towers, have for centuries, fallen for it. Who is to rescue us and our innocent children from the big bad wolf of deception?

Is it not time for us to look for narratives of moral fibre to regale us and our children? Should we not begin looking at men and women who performed deeds that are more realistic, instead of supplying them with stories of deeds that are fictitious and far fetched? Stories exhibiting deeds of valour, loyalty, honour, honesty, justice and integrity is what we should be nourishing our children with. Men and woman whom Allah Ta’aala Himself has given the title of “Radhiyallaahu Anhum i.e.-Allah is well pleased with them.

Only when we introduce these heroes into our lives and the lives of our children, would we find a greater measure of peace in our lives, and only then would we be able to live “happily ever after”.

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