By Naseema Mall
A new fun and meaningful way of teaching children about Islam has just been launched in South Africa by Durban-based group, Binaye Blocks, which in Arabic means to build.
Launched by founder Ebrahim Vahed, Binaye Blocks is the world’s first story book that comes with a construction toy that teaches children the message of the Qur’aan.
“Binaye Industries is a tech company focused on providing innovative products and solutions to the Muslim consumer. We have four divisions within Binaye: Binaye Blocks, Binaye Games, Binaye Design and Binaye Media.”
Vahed said he had worked on the design for over a year before they launched their crowdfunding campaign in 2016. By December 2017 they had already shipped their first pre-orders to the UK, USA and locally.
Vahed told Al Qalam: “It all started with Binaye Blocks. The Islamic education system is in desperate need of products and services to support it. We live in a world where cutting edge technology is being used to improve learning experiences for ‘secular’ education but we’re seeing very little innovation in the way we teach and introduce children to Islam.
“In our current education system, particularly in South Africa, a child can go through an entire Madrassah system, including Hifz, and as an adult they still will not understand the Qur’aan.
“With Binaye Blocks we decided to address this issue, by creating the world’s first story book plus construction toy that teaches children the message of the Qur’aan, through play. We launched our first-generation product after a successful crowdfunding campaign, which included investment, and we now have two products in the range. Each toy set comes with a story book and construction toy pieces (similar to Lego or Meccano). The idea is the child reads the book (or has it read to them), they construct a toy that is related to the story, and in doing so, they will learn a lesson from the Qur’aan in an effective way. We focus on teaching kids lessons from a few verses instead of an entire story from the Qur’aan. Children (and parents) will realize that there’s so much to learn from the Qur’aan, in just a single verse.
“Binaye Games was launched in October 2018. We managed to tap into a global audience, most of which reside in the US, who could easily identify with our product offering.
“At Binaye Games, we design fun, addictive and engaging, tabletop games and apps that inspire social change.
“On the one hand there’s popular, super fun, tabletop games (like Monopoly, Exploding Kittens, Dungeons and Dragons, etc.), and on the other hand there’s educational Islamic tabletop games. Binaye Games seeks to fill the gap between these two types of product offerings, providing Muslims (and anyone else) with a tabletop game that is fun, but at the same time, imparting some good in the form of social change or Islamic knowledge, in-keeping with Binaye’s founding philosophies.
“Our first board game is entitled ‘The Middle Path’. It’s a strategy-based board game about everyday Muslim problems. It is not an Islamic board game, in that we do not claim to teach Islamic knowledge. We address issues like race and gendered stereotypes, religious intolerance, and Islamophobia – issues that affect everyday Muslims.
So what makes Binaye products unique and different from regular toys?
Vahed elaborates, “Before we launched, Islamic toys were pretty much regular dolls and puzzles with some Arabic letters or pictures of camels on them. Some added Islamic audio, like Qur’aan, Arabic Nasheeds, etc. and that was it. There were very few products that were designed from the ground up as Islamic toys.
“Binaye Blocks have been designed and engineered from the ground up as Islamic toys, using Islamic design principles and cutting-edge toy design practices. Our toys not only teach kids about a lesson from the Qur’aan. At Binaye, we believe that there is no separation between Sciences and Islam – as it is not separated in the Qur’aan. We incorporate Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) into each and every set – so your child is provided with a holistic learning experience. Many of the scientific concepts in our stories have been adapted from the Qur’aan.”
Dahlia and Ali are the central characters of the stories, an adventurous brother and sister team. “Within the story, they learn about a particular verse (or verses) from the Qur’aan. Dahlia is a girl inventor and teaches her hilarious little brother while helping him along the way. Kids will find their discourse highly entertaining,” assures Vahed.
“Alhamdulillah we continue to grow our presence both locally and internationally. Our target market is, primarily, millennial parents who we are able to connect with and who immediately see the value in our products. While our toys are designed with children in mind, we’ve had adults purchase it for themselves too!” enthused Vahed.
Binaye Blocks can be found on various social media platforms, including Instagram and Facebook. Products are also available at various book stores.