In the theme of ubiquitous, for this post I’m transcribing an afterlife story based off the Islamic faith and concept of paradise, as told to me—unprompted—by one of my preschool students. I’ve done some research on the details of the story, but left the text verbatim.
I’m sitting by my student but not engaging with her and out of nowhere she says:
The bad god lives in fire. The bad god is the devil. He comes out on Halloween and kills people.
Sometimes when they do bad, Rabi (*unsure of spelling) puts people in fire. When the fire is all gone they give you breakfast because your tummy is hungry. You can’t do bad stuff or you go to fire.
When you’re in fire you melt and turn to Doubles. He (Doubles) loves “double this, double that” song because that’s his name: Doubles.
When you make fun of Rabi, Rabi gets mad—You can’t call people Rabi or Rabi gets mad and puts you in fire.
When you do good you go to Jannah. Jannah has lots of stuff, like ice cream, candy, lollipop, dinners, and house so you can cook. And even has lots of flowers and a nice T-Rex gives us whatever he likes—he gives us meat, or something else.
Rabi is behind Jannah.
My mommy told me that.
Student: Can I tell you Rabi? Before when you die, someday you go to Doubles or Jannah. Doubles is mean but has another two girls and two boys—I don’t know what their name calls but they kill you because they don’t like people—they’re brother and sister. They only like teachers.
So—I think they do is put some people in fire. They melt, then they die after melting, then after they die they turn to Doubles. Then—Can I tell you about Rabi? Rabi is good—the bad Rabi is named Doubles. Doubles put them in fire if they make fun of Rabi.
Doubles skin is black. Rabi’s skin is white. Jannah is a place. When Doubles touch Rabi his skin turned black because Rabi is a good, good clown—he has black but you can’t see because the white is covering the black.
You know who told me? My brothers.
Can I tell you more of my story? But, so, then, Rabi put people in Jannah. Rabi can do whatever he want to except for Doubles. So, Doubles cannot do whatever he wants because he’s not a good Rabi, he’s a bad Rabi.
Sometimes Doubles do not play—only the children because they’re smaller than him. Rabi talks to Doubles and says, “Doubles, do you want to be my friend?”
<She points through window at the clouds> See the clouds? The clouds are Rabi.
The bad Doubles is in the sky…because he likes to. <interrupted>
<When asked if Doubles scares them (at this point I now have three students contributing to the story), both Student 1 and Student 2 nod vigorously and say, “Yeah, yeah, Doubles scares me.”>
Student 1: I learned it [the story] from Rabi when I died…he tried to wake me up…but I wake—I go to Jannah. He told me that.
I’m not scared of Doubles at night, only in the afternoon.
Student 2: I heard it somewhere too. My mom told me.
Student 1: I died when I’m ten years old.
Student 3: When I was in the car with my dad, we saw Rabi in the road so he stopped and said, Let’s go somewhere else; Rabi was going where we were going. Yesterday my mom saw Rabi in my swing. It was night time and I was out of bed getting a snack and I saw Rabi on the swing. Rabi was in the closet hiding in my shoes and under my bed. I heard it from the book and the movie and at Mosque. Rabi was running out of the house at night time.
Student 2: Yeah I saw him too at night.
Monday (following week)
Student 1: I have to tell you two things: Rabi told me that before I die, he said, Do you want to eat the sweet things? I said, “No, no, we have to eat the healthy foods.”
That is where the story left off.
I also heard afterlife stories as a preschooler, and I am in awe of how these stories are perceived by children. Visualization plays a huge role.
Never underestimate the internalized imagination of a child.