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Harry Potter Book Series (1997-2007)

Picture of Harry Potter Books

 

Harry Potter Book Series (1997-2007)

Appropriateness Rating: Don’t Miss It

Entertainment Rating: Awesome

 

 

The Harry Potter series is about a young orphan boy, Harry Potter, who is living with his mean aunt and uncle and their bullying son Dudley. When he receives a letter from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and finds out that he is a wizard his life gets turned upside down. Each book in the series tells the story of one year of Harry’s magical education starting from his first year at the age of eleven and going up to his seventh year when he is seventeen years old. The books grow as Harry gets older so the later books are scarier and they include some mentions of dating and boyfriends and girlfriends. The way in which these topics are handled, however, is quite mature in comparison to most other media, and you should not let these aspects discourage you from reading these books. When it comes to finding good, clean, books for your children to read this series is one of the best out there, don’t miss it!

Warnings: teenage dating, girlfriends and boyfriends, kissing scenes

Starting from the fourth book Harry Potter reaches puberty and feels attracted to girls. However, the way in which the whole girlfriend/boyfriend issue is handled is relatively mature and well done – you can tell it was written by a mother who did not want to encourage children to just accept that these things are normal or cool without questioning them and while she wasn’t a Muslim the way she handled it much better than most other novelists. Where most books and movies these days just show young people having relationships and try to portray it as cool or normal the Harry Potter books show the teenagers struggling with some negative consequences of their actions when they get negative reputations, have their feelings hurt and betrayed by others, etc.

In the fifth book there is a hilarious scene where Harry is going out on a date with a girl, but the entire situation is shown as a disaster, as something silly and frivolous and a waste of Harry’s time who ends up leaving because he has something more important to do (warn the rest of the Wizarding world that a very evil wizard they thought was dead is alive and coming back to power). There is also a kissing scene in the fifth book, but it isn’t described in detail, the scene just changes and we know it happened. In the sixth book there is more love and dating and so on, but again, it’s made fun of and described in ways that make it seem silly rather than “cool” or exciting. And in the end the main characters get married to people who they respected not the ones they were most attracted to. This is a good discussion starter for older children.

It would be easy to skip over those parts if you are reading the books with very young children, and for older children you can discuss it and supplement the ideas in the book with the proper Islamic way to act around the opposite gender.

Ideas and Morals: magic and witchcraft

Many Muslim parents stay away from these books and try to avoid them because they know there is magic and witchcraft involved. And it’s true, there are magic spells and magic wands, there are magical creatures that fly around and so on, but if you really compare it to some of the most well-known stories that even Muslim parents and grandparents will tell to kids about giants or ghouls or Ali Baba and the magic word he used to open the cave or Sindibad and the Rokh, for example, it’s not very different from any of these stories and the ‘damage’ you might think it does to your kids upbringing is much, much less than the damage caused by some other books and cartoons you might think are ‘harmless.’

Also, in the portrayal of some of the aspects of magic in this book we can see some ideas we know from Islam, such as the deception involved in fortunetelling/predicting the future, that it’s impossible, even for wizards with magic, to bring back the dead, etc.

Of course every parent should make their own decision, but you should know that while the world that the Harry Potter series takes place in has many magical elements in it, the focus of the story is not reallu magic and the messages that are sent in these books are mostly positive messages like the importance of family, friends working together, helping others, standing up for what’s right, etc.

Messages: importance of family, working together, humility, standing up for what’s right, helping the weak, being honest in competition, standing up against prejudice and bigotry, etc

As an Orphan who started his journey in the first book knowing nothing about his parents Harry’s story is really one about self-discovery and about the importance of family. He learns more and more about his parents as he grows older and he also finds a loving family – the family of his best friend Ron – that takes him in and stands by him. He learns to think about others and he also learns how to distinguish good friends that he should be with and trust from bad influences.

Harry is the hero of the books and he is a very humble person who doesn’t look for glory or money or fame, but instead always tries to avoid the spotlight. He has strong moral stances on many issues. For example he stands up to bullies in his school and befriends less popular students that others make fun of or bully. He also learns to stand up for the weak and less fortunate such as Muggles (people who can’t do magic and are often helpless in front of evil wizards who attack them) as well as House Elves (magical creatures enslaved by some wizards).

Harry also stands up to a very evil teacher that comes to the school in his fifth year and even the Ministry of Magic politicians when they abuse their power. His struggle against lies in the media is also quite a good introduction to critically thinking about what we see in the real media around us.

There is an ongoing competition in the school in sports as well as House Points and throughout this competition Harry and his friends stay honest while the bad characters are the only ones who resort to cheating. In the end of each year it is Harry and his friends, the honest, brave, loyal ones who end up winning and getting the most House Points and not the bullies or the cheaters.

There are many more positive messages in the seven books that you can find and discuss with your family members which it would take too long to list. Here is a breakdown of the seven books and the level of appropriateness of each:

1 Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone Without reservations

Main themes: family, fighting against desires, working together, courage

2 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Don’t miss it

Main themes: fighting prejudice, seeking glory and fame is not good

Warning: some students trade Valentine’s day cards

3 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Without reservation

Main themes: importance of friendship and family, courage, the power of memories, importance of seeking the real truth warning: frightening

4 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Don’t miss it

Main themes are courage, working together, using our brains/skills to overcome problems, the negative impact of war, helping and respecting the less fortunate

Warning: attraction to opposite gender, school dance, killing/scary scenes

5 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phenix Don’t miss it

Main themes: standing up for the truth, working together, the power of memories and friendship, the importance of thinking before acting, ugliness of prejudice,

Warnings: dating, girlfriends and boyfriends, scary scenes, death/loss

6 Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince Don’t miss it

Main themes: seeking the truth, seeking to do good/help others, the negative impacts of killing on a person’s soul, ugliness of prejudice

Warnings: dating, scary scenes, death/loss

7 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Don’t miss it

Main themes: triumph of good over evil, not stooping to use bad means even if the ends is good, the negative impact of evil, oppression and killing on a person’s soul, kindness to the less powerful, humility, judgment after death

Warnings: brief mentions of girlfriend and boyfriend relationships, scary scenes/events, many deaths in the war

3 Comments

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  1. I just found an excellent article that discusses “5 Important Lessons From Harry Potter” on the Muslim Matters site:

    http://muslimmatters.org/2012/01/12/5-important-lessons-from-harry-potter/

    This might be useful for those wondering what lessons can be gained from reading such books or looking for a second opinion about the themes discussed in this review!

  2. Thanks a ton for blogging this, it was very informative and told quite a bit

  3. if youre into vampires, i sgugest the Vampire Academy series. It’s not at all cliche with the oh no s and you’re a vampire s as found in other books. It’s about a kickass girl that protects her friend since they have a special bond. and the girl also finds love with her mentor who is also a badass. i’ve read the five out of six books (of Rose’s (the main character) perspective). It’s pretty good action too. all different types.another series the mortal instruments series. Two words: amazingly thrilling!!! Another love triangle story kind of but not the main issue. a teenage girl who was raised by her mother learns about this other world full of shadowhunters(demonhunters) and demons, vampires, werewolves, fairies, and worlocks .its really cool. not the basic magical world we all think but there are some great twists. So anyways, her mother was taken by demons and Clary (the girl) tries to learn about her mother’s secret past (that she left behind) and the world of her culture, the Shadowhunter culture, and she tries to save her mother at the same time. she meets the sexily god-like JACE!!! you’ll fall in love with him, i guarantee it. In Twilight, you know Bella is devastated when Edward leaves her, but here Clary is badass and puts up with sh!t that makes this book great with action aside from the love issues.Shiver, another wolf book, pretty good too. A girl’s perspective, the wolf she soon falls in love with is always there in her backyard forest, and something weird happens. Grace has always had a strange relationship with the wolves outside her Minnesota home, ever since being attacked by them as a child. They both scare her and fascinate her, and one in particular draws her interest. He is her yellow-eyed wolf, and he intrigues her. Sam is a boy with a secret. In the warmth of the summer, he is a human, a thin boy with floppy hair and a love of reading. In the cold of winter, he turns into a black wolf with yellow eyes that roams the forest near Grace’s house. Sam feels a sense of belonging in his pack of fellow wolves, but he yearns to remain human. When Sam is shot as a wolf, the shock turns him back into a human, and he crawls to Grace’s door for help. Grace cares for him, provides him with a place to stay, and keeps his secret. Together, they share their insecurities, support each other, and fall in love. Both Grace and Sam have always yearned for real love, and they find it in each other. This is Sam’s last year as a human, and unless Grace can figure out how to keep him from changing, she will lose him forever.Fallen is great novel too! Luce is put into this asylum for teens and she meets Daniel. Daniel pushes her away, but when she is sort of drawn/allured by this other guy ( i forget his name), then Daniel cares. Turns out this guy and Daniel are eternal enemies. and Daniel and Luce have been meant for each other. Only Luce has been reincarnated every 17 years, and as soon as she turns 17, she dies since she always finds a way to Daniel within each reincarnation. at the end of the novel, she’s 17, but doesnt die, and Daniel and this other guy (his enemy) are at battle with each other. btw, Daniel is an angel so, its not so fantastic like the Mortal Instruments Series (city of bones, Ashes, Glass ), but its okaySomething similar to Fallen is Hush, Hush. It’s about an angel falling in love with a human and was damned to earth because of his feelings that’s all i remember but it’s a good read too.i really reccommend TMI (the mortal instruments) and the VA (vampire academy) series really great kickass books.thats all i got for now that i really reccommend!! Good luck!!! msg me for other good reads i hooked three of my friends on the mortal instruments series so i hope i hook you onto it too.Most new books I find are recommended from books I like.

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