The Arab Woman who Carved Exquisite Beauty into Science {Resource}

In the 10th century AD, an Arab woman in Syria made astrolabes so innovate that she was employed by the ruler.  Her designs were far superior to others in her trade due to the intricate details, which made her instruments more accurate to use.


An astrolabe is an tool used to determine the position of the sun and the planets, historically in the fields of astronomy, astrology, and horoscopes.  Muslims at that time in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) also used it to find the Qibla, the direction of Mecca for daily prayers, and to determine the starting days of their lunar calendar.

Her name was Mariam al-Astrulabi or Al-‘Ijliyah bint al-‘Ijli al-Asturlabi (In Arabic it is written as العجلية بنت العجلي الأسطرلابي).


On November 14th, 2016, the main-belt asteroid 7060 Al-‘Ijliya, discovered by Henry E. Holt at Palomar Observatory in 1990, was named in her honor.

Traditionally, the quest for knowledge has always been elevated in the MENA region, with Arab women having graduation rates higher then their female counterparts in the Western world. For example, in Bahrain, 74% of graduates in science were women, while in the US, it was only 43%.   If you follow this blog, you’ll remember that I wrote about the very first university in the world that was invented by an Arab woman, Fatima Al-Fihriyya.


It is then no surprise to learn that Mariam’s father was an apprentice to a famous astrolabe maker, who encouraged her to learn the trade.

In our own family I see this with my husband, who has a passion for building robots and rockets. He has taken his skills and coached two of our three daughters in robotics leagues the last three years. I’m sure he’s also looking forward to teaching our youngest when she enters Middle School.  It’s wonderful to see his love of engineering and math being passed on to them.


I hoped you enjoyed learning about Mariam al-Astrulab. Stop by my 99 Arab American Women post to learn about Arab American women making strives in science. To learn about other women in history, visit the Multicultural Kid Blog series on Women’s History Month.



Women's History Month Series on Multicultural Kid Blogs

Join us for our annual Women’s History Month series, celebrating the contributions and accomplishments of women around the world. Follow along all month plus link up your own posts below! Don’t miss our series from 2016 and 2015, and find even more posts on our Women’s History board on Pinterest:

Follow Multicultural Kid Blogs’s board Women’s History on Pinterest.

March 1
modernmami on Multicultural Kid Blogs: 3 Reasons Why We Celebrate Women’s History Month
March 2
The Jenny Evolution: More Children’s Books About Amazing Women
March 3
Colours of Us: 32 Multicultural Picture Books About Strong Female Role Models
March 6
March 7
A Crafty Arab
March 8
Hispanic Mama
March 9
March 10
MommyMaestra on Multicultural Kid Blogs
March 13
Crafty Moms Share
March 14
Mama Smiles
March 15
Bookworms and Owls
March 16
Creative World of Varya
March 20
La Cité des Vents on Multicultural Kid Blogs
March 21
Pura Vida Moms
March 22
Melibelle in Tokyo
March 23
All Done Monkey
March 24
March 27
Family in Finland
March 28
the piri-piri lexicon
March 30
Let the Journey Begin
Don’t miss our Women’s History Month Activity Printables, on sale now!

Women's History Month Activity Printables





American Muslim Ban Country Activities {Resource}

Last Friday, the president of the United States issued an executive order to place a travel ban on Muslims entering from 7 countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA): Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Some have argued that the ban is against all travelers and not only Muslims, however the president said soon after the ban that Christians would be allowed safe passage.


This Muslim ban is not only unconstitutional, the United States was founded on religious freedom, but it creates confusion for the citizens who actually live in these countries that fall under the ban: Muslims, Christians, Arabs, Persians, Kurds, etc.


Here at A Crafty Arab, my daughters and I have been trying to craft our way through the MENA region, learning about each country individually.  Other than some countries in the region tied by the Arabic language, each country has it’s own rich history, foods, culture and people. The citizens may borrow from their neighbors, but most are proud of the ground on which they, their parents, and their grandparents were born.


To help kids learn about the 7 banned countries, I’ve compiled a list of activities, along with some book choices you can buy or request the next time you are at the library. Some of the books are for children, some for adults. I’m only listing a couple, but please visit my Pinterest boards for hundreds more. It’s important for Americans to read the narratives of those that have been plunged into a political war they did not start.



Iran is not an Arab country since they do not speak Arabic, they speak Persian. There are some Muslims in Iran, with Arabic and Assyrian being the two Semitic languages spoken by them.  Iranians celebrate Nowruz and we did a tutorial on how to make one of the items needed for the festival table, a sib.

For children’s books on Iran, check out
Leila’s Nowruz Adventure
Little Black Fish
For adult books on Iran, read



Iraq is the western neighbor of Iran, also situated in western Asia. It’s official languages are Arabic and Kurdish and it’s citizens are primarily Muslim.  The United States and it’s allies attacked Iraq in 2003 and overthrew it’s government. The American presence in Iraq ended in 2011, but the Iraqi insurgency has continued due to the invasion. We talked about Iraq and American history while we learned about the flag.

For children’s books on Iraq, check out
The Golden Sandal
Lost and Found Cat
For adult books on Iraq, read
The Corpse Washer
The Madman of Freedom Square



Libya is in the middle of North Africa, has the Mediterranean Ocean as it’s northern border and is comprised of mostly dessert. The country was inhabited by the Amazigh before the Arabs arrived in the 7th century. As a Libyan myself, I have shared many recipes for food: mubatan, sharmoula and recently sharba. We have also learned about Libya and it’s revolution of 2011 when we made this hanging flag.

For children’s books on Libya, check out
The Shadows of Ghadames
For adult books on Libya, read
In the Country of Men



Somalia is in the horn of eastern Africa, bordered by water on two of it’s sides, giving it the longest coastline on Africa’s mainland. With Somalia’s proximity to the equator, there is not much seasonal variation in its climate. Islam was introduced to the area early on from the Arabian peninsula and the official languages of Somalia are Somali and Arabic. We learned about Somalia during our 3rd Annual Crafty Ramadan 30 Day Challenge when we made a flag pennant.

For children’s books on Somalia, check out
The Lion’s Share Qayb Libaax
Wiil Waal
For adult books on Somalia, read
Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth



Sudan, also known as North Sudan, is a land locked country southeast of Libya and northwest of Somalia in Africa. Sudan used to be the largest country in Africa, before South Sudan broke off into it’s own country in 2011. Its predominant religion is Islam and the official languages are Arabic and English. We learned about Sudan when we made a flag lantern.

For children’s books on Sudan, check out
My Name Is Sangoel
The Red Pencil
For adult books on Sudan, check out
A Long Way Gone
The Palm House



Syria is in western Asia, boarded by Iraq to the east and the Mediterranean Sea to the west. The official language is Arabic and it’s inhabitants are mostly Arabs with Kurds, Armenian and Turkmen minorities. Syria has been in a civil war since 2011. When we first talked about Syria, we created a pinwheel flag then we created a necklace of the opposition to place Syria in our hearts. Since then, we have also done no sew pillows for the refugees created from the civil unrest.

For children’s books on Syria, check out
The Jasmine Sneeze
Stepping Stones
For adult books on Syria, read
Fragments of Memory
Grandfather’s Tale



Yemen is in the southern Arabian Penuisula, and similar to Somalia, is boarded on two sides by water. Islam arrived in the 7th century and the ethnic groups are mostly Arab, followed by Afro-Arabs, South Asians and Europeans. Yemen has been caught in civil unrest since 2011 and it’s official language is Arabic. We learned about Yemen when we made a trivet for our tiny tea set.

For children’s books on Yemen, check out
Answered Prayer
For adult books on Yemen, read
A Land without Jasmine
They Die Strangers

There are 22 countries in the Arab League and we are learning about all of them. To see the activities we’ve made already, visit ACraftyArab on Pinterest. To learn more about the Arab League and who is on it, download this word search.






2017 Multicultural Children Book Day {Resource} Save The Date

A Crafty Arab Multicultural Children Book Day 2017I was recently asked to be a Co-Host for the Multicultural Children Book Day (MCCBD), to be held January 27, 2017. In a nutshell, a MCCBD Co-Host is like an ambassador for the event and the non-profit work that they do.


The mission of MCCBD is to not only bring raise awareness for the kid’s books that celebrate diversity, but to get more of these of books into classrooms and libraries.


I am so honored to have been asked, since last year I found out about it too late to participate. I can’t wait to see the list of books/authors/publishers that will be offered this year.  More information will be coming up, so be sure to sign up for the newsletter to keep updated here.


Check out the hashtage #ReadYourWorld on Instagram and Twitter to read some fantastic past reviews of diverse children’s books.


To see out some of our past book activities here on A Crafty Arab, please visit

99 Arab Children Books

5 Books with Strong Arab Protagonist

Mosque Pillow Tutorial

7 Stories of Arab Friendship

6 Arabic Dictionaries for Children

Visit A Crafty Arab on Pinterest to see more of our favorite books.