We have a fresh opportunity to reflect on Jenna the Quran teacher. Samira Amarir is going to speak about the doll, as well as how kids are helped to recitesome verses of the Qur'an.
My name's Samira Amarir, I'm Muslim. I was born and I grew up in France, originally we are Moroccans. I am married and I have two kids.
Q: Amarir, I want to know how you got this good idea?
SA: When my daughter turned two, I bought for her what was on the shelve in the French toys stores, the classic kind of Barbie dolls. The more I observed my daughter playing with the dolls and the more I noticed the influences of the toys on her. She quickly believed that a sexy bimbo was the reference in the way she dresses and wears make up. I started then looking at alternatives to influence her and show her how diverse human beings are. We can't all be blond, with blue eyes and with an unrealistic body. Little did I know at the time that I won't find much in this space. It is when I decided to start my own concept. Not only I wanted to create a doll that reflects our cultural different, roots and heritage but I wanted to create a doll that would fit a larger goal. I have always been fascinated watching my daughter playing with her toys and see how much she would learn through a playing session. This is when I got it. I wanted her to relate to a doll that represent our culture but in the meantime could teach her verses of the Quran. I struggled to make her learn some of the basic verses. The reason was simple. Learning for her wasn't fun. It was a task whilst learning can be a game. Kids learn much better when they play because it resonates better with them. This is why I started this entire journey.
Q: I wonder why you designed a toy for Jennah.
SA: Her name is actually Jenna with no 'h'. I simply wanted to design something that could showcase the beauty behind diversity. We are not all barbies. The world is far more diverse. Muslims have a beautiful culture, heritage and history and our toys should reflect that. It is important to feel proud of our origins so that our coming generations get closer to our roots. Unfortunately, we don't do enough for our kids to create this feeling of cultural pride. Jenna is a good example of it. A beautiful Muslim teacher that can inspire our kids. Learning whilst playing is an important dimension of our concept. It was important to ensure first that the concept doesn't hurt our community. We worked very closely with the Dubai Islamic affairs to adapt the doll and ensure that it is Shariah compliant. After months of work and adjustments, the Dubai Islamic Affairs have given us their green light.
Q: Yea, Jenna, Could you elaborate on reasons that encourage you to continue?
SA: I receive everyday tons of messages of proud parents and children that experience the immense benefits of Jenna as a doll and as a teacher. After couple of days interacting with the kids, Jenna teaches them verses of the Holy Quran with no pain, more than that in a fun way. The kids feel proud and their parents even more. This is my fuel every day. Knowing that you have a positive impact on the society and the parents and kids recognize the added value is what makes me wake up every morning
Q: How do you find its popularity among your friends in the town of
SA: little did I know that Jenna The Quran teacher will become such a phenomenon around family and friends. To be blunt, Jenna was a game designed for my daughter. When I felt that the need that I saw for my daughter was affecting a far larger audience, it is only then that I decided to extend the scale of it.
Q: Your doll recites verses from the Quran I'd like to know how it
helps children to learn them quickly and easily.
SA: kids learn in a much easier and effective manner when they play. There spam of attention when playing is far greater than when they are in a too formal environment. When they play, their minds, moods and bodies are more receptive to learning because they don't do it under an external pressure. Playing is actually so natural for the kids, hence they are receptive to capturing and digesting more information. To put it simply, learning can be fun and this is what we have done with Jenna. We made learning accessible to the kids.
Q: I want to know if some professors study its affective on learning?
SA: Education is not only the responsibility of school teachers and professors. While they are key in shaping up our kids minds, the parents have a key role to play in the kids education. It is important to get involved, observe our kids and contribute to their growth and learning. When I first created Jenna the Quran Teacher, it was a doll from a mother to her daughter. The doll was created not to replace a teacher or parents but it was designed to connect with the kids in a fun, easy and accessible way.
Q: How do you find the right voice for the doll?
SA: we have been interviewing hundreds of young girls. And have been unsuccessful for months. We were not looking for a voice only, but someone who could pass on the spirit of the doll in having a perfect tajwidpronunciation. Certainly not an easy one. Funnily enough and after months of castings, we have finally found the right voice at a dinner with friends. There was this young woman named Asma that had such a beautiful voice, smile and face. Not only she was a perfect fit from a voice stand point, but she was so charming, joyful and down to earth. We requested her to go with us on studio, which she accepted. After the recording, we knew straight away that she was the one.
Q:What four verses does Jenna recites to learn children?
SA:Jenna recites Surah Al Fatiha, Surah Al Falak, Surah Al Ikhlas and Surah Al Nas.
Q: If I were you I'd add Sira of the Prophet Muhammad shortly.
SA: The viability of our concept is paramount. We are working incredibly hard to ensure that the parents and kids engage with the concept. We are working closely with parents and kids to develop a full range of products and services that can keep on feeding our kids in respecting the concept of Jenna. There's much more to come in the coming months and we will keep on adding new Surahs, increase the level of connectivity and bring up new products incredibly innovative to make the life of our kids even more fun.
Abdelrahman: I absolutely love your experience and I find it compelling and incredibly interesting, thank you very much. Let me thank AdilAmesrouh, your kind husband. Without his great effort, we cannot manage this interview.
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