The Arab Woman who Carved Exquisite Beauty into Science

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




3 Malcolm X Books for Kids

I wanted to introduce my youngest daughter to Malcolm X since it’s Black History Month. The first place I went to look for information was our local library where I found three book selections on the shelves. I brought them home so that we could read them together to learn about Malcolm Little, who would change the world as Malcolm X.


After we had gone through them, the experience reminded me of one of my father’s favorite Western movies, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. This 1966 spaghetti western was about 3 gunslingers, however the film’s title has entered the English language as an idiomatic expression. It is typically used when describing something thoroughly, the respective phrases refer to upsides, downsides and the parts that could, or should have been done better, but were not.

The Ugly

Let’s start with the ugly, or what should have been done better, but was not. Malcolm X by Michael Benson.

We didn’t get very far in this book because I made my daughter stop reading it. There were a few lines that made warning bells go off in my head, the first was one of the first lines into the book: “African Americans, who were politely called Negroes in those days”…How odd, I thought, as my daughter read the word “politely,” that the author would choose to label the white people as polite in a book about civil unrest due to bullying, scare tactics and lynchings.


But I didn’t say anything and my daughter kept reading. Two pages later, she read this line “Many black families had first come to America as slaves or as servants to white families.”


I actually startled my daughter when I yelled out loud for her to stop reading. “Come to America?!?” I explained to my daughter that black families did not come to America. They were brought here, brutally, on slave ships. Many families were ripped apart by white men who kidnapped children, women and men from their homes in Africa, to bring them to America to work for free as slaves. I let the “servants” comment go…but not for long it seems.


She continued to read a few more pages, then stopped herself. She had gotten to the part about Malcolm’s mother having to work after her husband was killed. “At first, Louise was able to land jobs sewing or keeping house for white people. Many white people didn’t want African American in their homes.”


My daughter was confused because, remember, she had just read “black families had first come…as servants to white families.” Why did they leave their homes in Africa, to come to American to work, when the white families didn’t want them in their homes?


That was enough of that. We stopped reading and moved on to the next book.

The Bad

The second book we picked up was Meet Malcolm X by Melody S. Mis.

The first paragraph on page one was “In 1965, Malcolm X gave a speech that shocked America. He said that African American should use “any means necessary” to get freedom. This suggested that blacks should use violent actions to gain equality.”


My daughter again looked at me startled. I took the book away from her to explain about Malcolm’s childhood. I told her about him looking on as his house burned while the white fire department also watched, I told her about his father being beaten, then killed and driven over by a streetcar, and I also told her about his mother not being able to collect his insurance because they said he had committed suicide. Lastly, I told her about his teacher telling him he could not be a lawyer because of the color of his skin.


I made sure she understood that it was quite odd for a book about the civil rights movement to start with the violence from the black community. I turned the page to discover that the KKK was pictured there, with the title The Early Years next to it. I could not understand, nor could I explain to my daughter, why the author choose not to start with the violent actions of the whites. But this was something that did not sat well with me, so we put that book aside also.

The Good

The book Malcolm Little was written by his daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz. We are in love with this book.

The very first line had us hooked “Malcolm X was one of the most influential men in American history.” Why he was influential was then explain to us in beautiful script that took us to where Malcolm’s mother was born, Grenada, West Indies “where the sweet smell of nutmeg and cocoa swirled together in the tropical air.”


We understood his passion for public speaking because his father Earl used to preach and Malcolm loved to tag along to watch him mesmerize audiences. His “uplifting messages proclaimed freedom, justice and equality for all” was something that Malcolm would listen to with rapt attention.


We learned about his hardships of losing his father and how a butterfly outside his window reminded him that his home was a safe “haven where lessons and values came like nourishment each day.”


After we finished it, my daughter wanted to learn more about Malcolm X becoming a Muslim and I filled in the details. I told her he was a bad young men who got sent to prison and there he learned about Islam. That was where he first changed his name from Malcolm Little to Malcolm X, honoring his slave heritage with a new last name that the slaves used, since they were mostly illiterate and could only sign an x.


He later performed hajj in Mecca and traveled to different African countries to see people that looked and acted like him. He was impressed with the teachings of Islam and the equality it provides all it’s worshipers, regardless of skin color. He came back from the trip a changed man, and changed his name again to Hajj Malik El Shabazz.


I’m sure there will be more to tell her later, but for now, I’m glad she was now knows who Malcolm X is and his importance in her American history. We especially enjoyed learning it from a loving source that explained in detail how he became of of the greatest civil rights leaders of all time.


To read about more remarkable Muslims, check out these 8 Remarkable Muslims. Or visit A Crafty Arab on Pinterest for other children book reviews. This post was written as part of the Multicultural Kids Blog Black History Month blog hop series:



Black History Month Blog Hop on Multicultural Kid Blogs

Welcome to our fourth annual Black History Month series and giveaway! Follow along all month long as we explore the rich history and cultures of Africa and African-Americans. Be sure to enter our giveaway below and link up your own posts at the bottom of the page.

You can also follow our Black History board on Pinterest:

February 3
Embracing Diversity on Multicultural Kid Blogs: Afro-Latino Arturo Schomburg – The African Diaspora’s History Keeper

February 6
Embracing Diversity: Afro-Latinos and Baseball’s Color Line – 5 Pioneers in the Post-Segregation Era

February 7
Hispanic Mama: 5 Latino Dishes that Feature Our African Heritage

February 8
Mama Smiles: How to Use Stories to Teach Children Black History

February 10
Colours of Us: 21 Award-Winning Children’s Books for Black History Month

February 13
Crafty Moms Share: The Real Women Mathematicians of Hidden Figures

February 15
All Done Monkey: History of STEM – Black Medical Pioneer Vivien Thomas

February 17
A Crafty Arab

February 22
Kitchen Counter Chronicles

February 24

Black History Month Giveaway

Coming soon! Our annual Black History Month giveaway runs from February 3 through February 28, 2017. Winners will be drawn and notified within 48 hours. Note that some prizes have shipping restrictions. If the winner lives outside of that shipping area, that part of the prize package will go to the next prize winner. Read our full giveaway rules.

Black History Month giveaway on Multicultural Kid Blogs - Grand Prize

Grand Prize

From World of EPI: Winner’s choice of 18″ doll US Shipping Only
From Penguin Kids: I Am Martin Luther King, Jr.; I Am Rosa Parks; and I Am Jackie Robinson by Brad Meltzer
From Quarto Knows: A Stork in a Baobab Tree by Catherine House: Who is King? by Beverley Naidoo; The Fire Children retold by Eric Maddern; Thank you, Jackson by Niki Daly US Shipping Only
From Bino & Fino: DVD set US Shipping Only
From RiverFrog Publishing: Bella’s Adventures in Africa by Rebecca Darko and Rutendo Muzambi

Black History Month Giveaway on Multicultural Kid Blogs - 1st Prize

1st Prize

From Queens of Africa: Azeezah doll with natural hair, and clothing from SLICEbyCAKE US Shipping Only
From Penguin Kids: I Am Martin Luther King, Jr.; I Am Rosa Parks; and I Am Jackie Robinson by Brad Meltzer
From Abrams: The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters; Pathfinders: The Journeys of 16 Extraordinary Black Souls by Tonya Bolden; George Washington Carver by Tonya Bolden; My Uncle Martin’s Words for America by Angela Farris Watkins US Shipping Only

Black History Month giveaway on Multicultural Kid Blogs - 2nd Prize

2nd Prize

From Penguin Kids: I Am Martin Luther King, Jr.; I Am Rosa Parks; and I Am Jackie Robinson by Brad Meltzer
From Candlewick Press: Jazz Day by Roxane Orgill; X: A Novel by Kekla Magoon and Ilyasah Shabazz; Voice of Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford US Shipping Only

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Arabic Happy New Year {2017}

Kul ‘am wa antum bikhair


That’s how to say May You Welcome Every Year with Good Health in Arabic. You can say this saying on new year’s eve or for a birthday.


We are welcoming in a new year here in the US, and also a new directory over at Muslimah Blogger.  To celebrate, we have a downloaded that you can get for free once you subscribe to the A Crafty Arab newsletter.


Be sure to check out A Crafty Arab Printables on Pinterst to see more free downloads.