Children’s Column – February 2015

The Qur’an for Young Hearts – 58

Important Notes

1:The translation of the Qur’an being presented here is interpretative. It is meant for children. Those who can understand other translations should better consult them.

2. Parents are advised to hold sessions at home and teach the verses and explanation as given here, and, if they can, add more from Qur’anic commentaries.

3. Answers to exercise below may be attempted. Parents may evaluate them and reward the children suitably.

4. Schools could also include this in their Islamic curriculum.

5. The underlined words have been explained in the Dictionary given below.

Verses from Surah No. 2, al-Baqarah

[203] And, remember Allah much through the appointed days. Whoever hastens (from Mina) in two days has no sin upon him, nor upon him who delays so long as he tries to gain piety. Fear Allah therefore, and be of knowledge that to Him you will return.

[204] And among the people is one whose talks in worldly affairs will amaze you. He will put forward Allah as a witness with regard to what is in his heart – although he is a most stiff-necked man of argument.

[205] When he turns his back, he tries to spread corruption in the land and destroy crops and cattle, even though Allah does not approve of mischief.

[206] When he is told: ‘Fear Allah,’ he is led by arrogance to more sins. Hell shall suffice for him – an evil place to rest indeed.

[207] While among the people is one who will readily sell himself in search of Allah’s Pleasure. Allah is full of kindness towards such of His slaves.

Summary of Meaning:

The verses are still dealing with the issue of Hajj. The Haji is in Mina on the 10th of Dhu al-Hijjah. He has finished stoning, sacrificing, cutting of hair or shaving, and has done the most Tawaf of Hajj (called Tawaf al-Ifaadah, or Tawaf al-Ziyaarah). After having done these things, he needs to stay in Mina for 2 more days, that is, the 11th and 12th of Dhu al-Hijjah. The appointed days are the 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th of Dhu al-Hijjah. During the two-day stay of 11th and 12th, he does stoning, every day. How should he spend his free time? Well, the verse 203 says, he must spend his time remembering Allah much: recite the Qur’an, do dhikr, du`a, etc. He must not loiter about, or spend time chatting and gossiping.

As for the third day at Mina, that is the 13th of Dhu al-Hijjah, it is not compulsory to stay there. If the pilgrim wishes to move out, he is allowed.

But not everyone obeys. There are others who will perhaps talk of worldly things in Mina, and when someone objects, he will say, Dunya is also part of Deen. If you try to reason him out, he will endlessly argue.

This is the kind of man who when turns towards home, he will spread corruption. And, moral corruption badly affects men, animals and even crops. If you tell him to fear Allah, he gets angry and commits more sins, despite having performed Hajj.

In comparison, there are people who are ready to do anything to earn Allah’s pleasure. If there is need, they will sell themselves to earn His approval. This is the kind which can hope to win Allah’s rewards.

Exercise:

  1. Can you mention in points the things to be done on the 10th of Dhu al-Hijjah?
  2. Supposing you are doing Hajj. How will you spend your time in Mina on the 11th and 12th of Hajj? State precisely.
  3. What happens when people return from Hajj, but continue living a sinful life?
  4. What exactly is meant when Allah said that some people can sell themselves to win Allah’s Pleasure?
  5. What exactly will you do to claim that you are also ready to sell yourself for Allah’s Pleasure?

(To be continued)

Ahmad and the Happy Duck 

Ahmad had gone with his family to visit his grandfather at the week-end. Before dinner, as usual, Ahmad’s grandfather took him to the park. When they arrived at the park, Ahmad was very happy to see the ducks swimming in the pond. His grandfather knew that Ahmad really liked ducks, so he had brought something along to feed them with. He gave it to Ahmad, and they sat there together on a bench. Ahmad ran toward the ducks.

“Hi,” he said: “My name is Ahmad. I brought you some food.”

One of the ducks there said, “Hi, Ahmad, thank you very much.”

“I was thinking,” said Ahmad: “If they didn’t feed you here, or if you lived somewhere where there were no human beings, how would you find food?”

The duck answered: “We ducks don’t often leave the water when we live in the wild. We get our food from the water.”

“But I don’t see any food in the water where you are swimming,” said Ahmad, puzzled.

The duck explained: “We get our food from the water in several ways. Some ducks stay on the surface of the water and eat plants and insects. Others dip their heads and the front part of their bodies under the water and look for food with their tails in the air. And still others dive right under the water and search for all their food in that way.”

duck-feb2015Ahmad had another question: “Why do you stay in the water all the time? Why don’t you walk around on the land?”

“Our webbed feet let us swim around in the water, and we can swim very quickly, but it is hard for us to walk on land,” the duck told him.

Ahmad then asked the duck: “When I go into the water, I always have to keep moving to stay afloat. So, I have to use water wings to stop myself from sinking. How do you manage to stay afloat for so long?”

“Just as you don’t have to move to stay afloat when you use your water wings, so the air in our bodies lets us stay on top of the water,” the duck answered.

Ahmad was still puzzled: “But when I wear water wings, I can’t dive under the water. How do you manage to do it?”

“We have air sacs in our bodies that look like little balloons,” said the duck. “When these sacs are filled with air, we duck2-feb2015stay afloat; and when we want to dive under the water, we pump the air out of those air sacs. So we can dive easily because there is less air left in our bodies.”

“So, you can stay on top of the water, and you can dive under it, and you can swim beautifully,” said Ahmad.

The duck went on: “It is because of our webbed feet that we can swim so easily. When we move our feet forward or backward in the water, these webs spread out and allow us to push ourselves against the water with more force.”

“Just like the flippers that grown-ups put on their feet when they go swimming in the summer so they can swim faster and easier!” exclaimed Ahmad.

“That’s it, Ahmad,” the duck agreed. “If your human feet were like that you would not be able to walk comfortably. Because we are water birds, however, the shape of our feet lets us swim and feed ourselves very easily.”

“All ducks look alike, so what kind of differences are there between them?” wondered Ahmad.

duck5-feb2015“We do all look alike,” agreed the duck: “But there certainly are a number of differences between the various kinds of ducks. Male ducks have shinier feathers than females. This is an important protection for the female as she sits on her nest to hatch her young. Because of her dull colors, her enemies can’t see her, and she is much safer as she sits there. The female duck’s dull colors that blend in with the background make her difficult to spot even from a close distance.”

“So, what happens when an enemy comes near the nest?” asked Ahmad.duck7-feb2015

The duck explained: “The male ducks draw attention to themselves by using their colorful shiny feathers in order to draw the enemy’s attention away from the female in her nest. When an enemy approaches the nest, the male immediately flies into the air, making a lot of noise and doing everything he can to drive the intruder away.”

At that moment Ahmad saw some baby ducks swimming in the water. He was amazed that they were so small and could swim so well. He asked: “How do these baby ducks learn to swim so quickly?”

duck3-feb2015“Baby ducks manage to make their way to the water to swim and feed themselves just a few hours after they hatch,” the duck informed him.

Ahmad wondered what would happen to him if they left him in the water a few hours after he was born. He would certainly not be able to swim; he would swallow a lot of water and die.

He considered how perfectly Allah had created ducks so that they can live, swim and feed themselves in the water. Then Ahmad’s grandfather got up from the bench and came up beside him.

“Grandpa,” said Ahmad: “Ducks can swim really well, can’t they? And they’re so cute!”

His grandfather agreed: “Yes, Ahmad. Just one of their special qualities shows us how perfectly Allah has created every living thing. Did you know that ducks can also fly? When they fly, they keep changing direction so that they will not fall prey to wild birds.”

duck6-feb2015“How do the ducks know that they have to change direction all the time to escape predators, Grandpa?” he asked.

His grandfather told him: “Just as Allah has given special qualities to other animals, he gave this one to cute ducks so that they can protect themselves. Allah creates what He wills. There is a verse about this in the Qur’an:

‘Allah created every animal from water. Some of them go on their bellies, some of them on two legs, and some on four. Allah creates whatever He wills. Allah has power over all things.’ (Surat an-Nur: 45)

“Come on Ahmad,” he said: “Dinner is almost ready. We’d better make our way back home.”

“OK Grandpa. I’ll tell you what I learned about ducks on the way!”

“Really?” asked his grandfather. “Now where did you learn all this from?” Ahmad winked at the ducks in the water and said good-bye.

Ahmad took his grandfather’s hand and left the ducks behind. They walked home together talking about Allah’s perfect creation and giving thanks for it.

Amazing Facts about Ducks

  • Ducks are found in grasslands and both salt as well as fresh water and divided into river ducks and sea ducks.
  • A full grown duck can weigh about 8 lbs and can grow to about 16 to 20 inches in length. Their lifespan is 2 – 20 years.
  • They are omnivorous and will eat grass, tree leaves, fish, insects, worms and small amphibians. They are opportunistic and will eat fruit, seeds, aquatic plants and crustaceans.
  • All ducks have highly waterproof feathers as a result of an intricate feather structure and a waxy coating that is spread on each feather while preening. A duck’s feathers are so waterproof that even when the duck dives underwater, its downy underlayer of feathers will stay completely dry.
  • Most male ducks are silent and very few ducks actually “quack.” Instead, their calls may include squeaks, grunts, groans, chirps, whistles, brays and growls.
  • There are more than 40 breeds of domestic duck. The white Pekin duck (also called the Long Island duck) is the most common variety raised for eggs and meat.
  • Ever wondered how a duck can swim in icy cold water, even when the weather is freezing? Ducks have no nerves or blood vessels in their feet. Hence, they never feel hot or cold.
  • You will be surprised to know that ducks have three eyelids. The bird also boasts of having a keen vision.
  • Another most interesting fact about duck is that they sleep with half their brains awake. Ducks sleep with one eye open when they are located on the edge of sleeping groups. Ducks have an extremely special ability to detect predators in less than a second.
  • Duck eggs have tiny pores that help draw in respiratory gas as well as water vapor to assist breathing.
  • Baby ducks are born with their eyes open and a warm coat and do not rely entirely on their parents for food. In fact ducklings are ready to leave the nest within hours of hatching.

Jewels for the Soul and Mind

  • “When you’re tempted to lose patience with someone, think how patient Allah has been with you all the time.” ~ Unknown
  • ‘A person will always remain weak until he seeks strength from Al-Qawi.’ – The All Powerful.’ ~ Yasir Qadhi”
  • “The believer is not a person who hurts others with words, or curses, or swears, or is foul-mouthed.” [Bukhari: al-Aadab al-Mufrad]
  • “If you want to know what a man’s like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals.” ~  J. K. Rowling
  • “The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make a mistake.” ~ Elbert Hubbard
  • “Speak when you are angry – and you’ll make the best speech you’ll ever REGRET.” ~ Unknown