Growing up, there was no mainstream Islam – or rather, there was no Islam in my mainstream. We had no Masjid or Madrassah, there was no such thing as a ‘Muslim’ toy or book, and Muslim television? Don’t even think about it. For me, any sort of connection with a Muslim Ummah didn’t come till much later.
Naturally, I didn’t want the same for my kids. So, when I was offered a subscription to an online resource for Muslim children – in exchange for a fair review – I was very keen to check it out.
What is Muslim Kids TV?
Muslim Kids TV is a subscription streaming service billed as ‘a complete interactive experience with games, social media and tonnes of educational resources’. Essentially, it’s a bit like a Muslim Netflix for kids, with added features.
They are currently offering a free 2-week trial, with subscriptions thereafter at $9.99 a month or $79.99 per annum – which comes in at about £7 per month or £56 for the year. They are also running a promotion whereby you get one free month of subscription for every friend you successfully refer.
You can create one adult and up to 3 child accounts, complete with parental controls. There’s also a Muslim Kids TV app, available on Google Play and Apple.
What we loved
As self-respecting pre-schoolers, having recently graduated to the tender ages of 1 and 3, my children are, quite naturally, hardened television addicts. To that end, it wasn’t hard to convince my eldest to sit down at the computer with me to give some new videos a try. She settled in like a pro.
These are a few of our favourites.
Hurray for Baba Ali: teaching children good adab or manners.
Knowsy Nina: an animated series featuring an inquisitive little girl called Nina, who learns a lot about science and the natural world.
Learning Arabic with Alif Ba Kids: a very catchy sing-along series, complete with activity sheets. Both my children love this.
With many dozens of shows to choose from, I’m confident that there’s enough quality content to curb their binge-watching appetites for the next few years at least.
The few games that my 3-year-old and I have sampled have been effective and fun. I found the matching and memory games to be useful for younger children. We’ve even acquired a virtual gardening habit, thanks to the simple strategy game Go Garden Grow.
One could very feasibly teach oneself or one’s child to pray and recite Qur’an with Muslim Kids TV. There are videos teaching Arabic, many duas and salaah, as well as the aptly named Recitation Buddy. This is a program designed to aid Qur’anic recitation and memorisation, by allowing you to select, read, listen to and record yourself reciting the Qur’an step-by-step, ayah by ayah, from whichever point you choose. Sadly, Recitation Buddy doesn’t seem to be available on the app.
Another really fun feature is that you can create a cartoon avatar for each account, with different hair, clothes, expressions and accessories. Needless to say, my 3-year-old loves playing with this! For older children, if they post a comment on the site, their avatar acts as a profile picture.
Whilst the sheer volume of content available is genuinely impressive, the video section could do with some organisation, for example by category. One hazard of having such a large library is that you might come across something you like, only to have trouble being able to find it again the next day. The search function, in particular, I found to be often ineffective.
As with any streaming service, the quality of content on offer varies – and whilst there is certainly no shortage of opportunity to find many a series, game or activity that your child will truly engage with, I do believe that the website could benefit from clearing out some of the ‘dead wood’.
There are a great number of resources for Muslim children scattered all over the internet, and it would be madness not to explore them. But the sobering reality is that most parents just do not have the time, the patience or even the skills to effectively unearth and collate them.
The beauty of a service like Muslim Kids TV is undoubtedly that they’ve done the hard graft for you. Logic would also dictate that the more of us who sign up, the richer the investment, leading to even better-quality content. Especially if we’re not shy in giving feedback (there is indeed a prominent suggestion box on the website).
In a nutshell
Despite my earlier flippancy, I don’t believe that children can get all of their schooling from a screen, and that stands for their Islamic education more than anything else. There is still very much to be gained from sharing a few well-chosen books or investing in some Islamic toys or games for your child or your family. And the epitome, actually living Islam in your everyday life, in everything you do.
But the modern-day reality is that whether or not you find online resources for your children, they will sooner or later find their own. Start well, as you mean to go on.
I’m not at all ashamed to say that I will be using Muslim Kids TV to further my own Islamic learning as well as that of my children – InshaAllah.
By Nadia Tariq