YMD Children’s Column

The Qur’an for Young Hearts – 36

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

[132] Ibrahim instructed the same thing to his sons. And Ya`qub did the same (by saying), ‘Surely my sons! Allah has chosen this religion for you, so see that you die not except as Muslims.’

[133] Why, were you present when death appeared before Ya`qub? When he asked his sons, ‘Whom will you worship after me?’ They replied, ‘We shall worship your God and the God of your forefathers ‑ Ibrahim, Isma`il, and Is-haq ‑ One God; we have surrendered to Him.’

[134] That was a nation that has passed away. For them will be what they earned and for you what you earn. And you will not be questioned about what they were doing.

Understanding the above Verses

Jews, Christians, Muslims, and sometimes even Hindus, claim that Ibrahim belonged to them, and followed their religion. The previous two verses informed us about what the religion of Ibrahim was. It was not of worshipping Allah, this way or that way, observing this practice or that practice. His religion was: submission. He was a totally obedient servant of God. He did what he was told. He offered no excuses, neither true excuses nor false ones.

This is the religion chosen by Allah. Muslims should remain obeying Allah, until death. Verse 132 above says that not only Ibrahim submitted to his Lord wholeheartedly, and most truthfully, he also urged all his children the same true religion. That is, that of complete obedience to Allah. There is no religion greater than this.

Among his children two were important. They were Isma`il and Is-haq. The Arabs are the children of Isma`il. Jews used to be the children of Ya`qub who was a son of Is-haq (Isaac of the Bible). We say they “used to be” because, over the centuries, most children of Is-haq were killed or died out. The Jews of today are not at all the children of Is-haq. They are a mix-up of so many races, although they call themselves Israelites. Today, Israel is dominated by European Jews.

In any case, Ibrahim taught his children to ‘submit to none but Allah,’ meaning obey none but Allah, or in one word, be ‘Muslims.’ Ibrahim’s children also taught their children the same thing so that Ya`qub taught his children submission to Allah. He did not teach his children to be Jews.

At the time of death, most people give instruction about what should be done with the wealth they are leaving behind, or, how to distribute their property, etc. But Prophets do not talk of worldly things. They know that their children will fail in life if they did not submit to Allah. Therefore, Ya`qub instructed his children at the time of his death that they should remain obedient to Allah all their lives.

This was also important to state in the Qur’an because the Qur’an has come to correct major errors in the Bible and other holy literatures. The Jewish Holy Book, the Bible, in the Old Testament, (also known as Torah), it is stated that Ya`qub (Jacob of the Bible) spoke some funny things to his son at the time of his death. He tells his first son that he is not stable, about two other sons that they are too violent, about a third son that he is like a donkey in strength, about a fourth son that he is like a wild wolf. He promises the first son that he will never gain good qualities. (The Bible, Genesis, chapter 49)

Allah sent down these verses to the Prophet also because the Jews told the Prophet that they could not follow him because Isaac had instructed his children to remain Jews. Actually, the words “Jews” did not exist at the time of Jacob. This word ‘Jew’ came to be used many centuries after him.

The Qur’an corrects the Bible, the Torah, and the Jews. It says here that Prophets were not like what the Bible says about Ya`qub (Jacob), nor are they like what it says about other Prophets. The Prophets were very conscious about their Lord, and so Ya`qub gave the most important instruction to his sons before his death. Words spoken out near death are always remembered by those present at the scene of death. So, Ya`qub spoke about obedience to Allah. The believers also do so.

The Jews are always boasting about so many Prophets raised among them. But the Qur’an says here in verse 124 that it is no use boasting about how many great men came among a people. Every people will be judged by what they earned of the good or bad deeds. Neither a people will be asked about previous generations, nor will those previous generations be asked about what the generations following them did. The Jews believe that the good people of the past will save them from Hellfire. That’s not true.

Lessons:

  1. Surrender to the will of Allah was the religion not only of Ibrahim but that of his sons.
  2. Even his grandson Ya`qub (Jacob of the Bible) followed the same religion and instructed the same his sons at death-bed.
  3. What the Bible says about what Ya`qub said at his death-bed, is not true.
  4. Every people will be judged by what they do, not by what their forefathers did, or their children did.
  5. There is no responsibility on any people about the deeds of their forefathers, if they disown their bad deeds. If they boast of them, they are equal in crime and sins.

Exercise:

  1. Is there one word for complete obedience to Allah?
  2. What exactly was the religion of Ibrahim?
  3. Are Muslims of our times on the religion of Ibrahim?
  4. Will Jews, Christians and Muslims be questioned about what their forefathers did?
  5. Name the children of Ibrahim.
  6. Are there any people on earth who are descendants of Ibrahim?
  7. Are Jews of today, children of Jacob?
  8. What do Muslims of today say at their death-beds?
  9. What instructions did Prophets give their children at their death-beds?
  10. State why the Qur’an mentions what Ya`qub said at the time he was dying.

Dictionary

  • Submission:Surrender, unconditional obedience.
  • Stable:Not constant; changing behavior every now and then.
  • Surrender:To obey fully, completely.
  • Descendants:Those who come after a man in his family, are his descendants.
  • Generation:The sons and daughters of an earlier people.

(To be concluded)

 

” Not Educated… No Expert…”

We need [to constantly] remind ourselves of how little in reality we know—and how an obsessiveness of thinking that we’re “right” is not a characteristic of a humble Believing Mind. In this second article, we explore how we can reach the intellectual humility that we crave.

1.Always remember that Allah alone is Al-‘Alim—The All Knowing—and we’re not! Allah (swt) asks us, “Did I not tell you that I know the unseen [aspects] of the heavens and the earth? And I know what you reveal and what you have concealed.”  (Qur’an 2:33)

2. Follow the confident yet humble example of the Greats. For me Malcolm X’s greatest quality was not his world-class debating or even his championing of human rights—it was his ability to change from…criminal to a follower of Elijah Mohammed to someone who found true Islam; his greatest quality was to have the humility to change. He said once of himself, “I am not educated nor am I an expert in any particular field. But I am sincere and my sincerity is my credentials.” I was recently reading the Muqaddimah by Ibn Khaldun, regarded as one of the greatest books of all of time, which brought forth new science; yet you meet statements such as, “I confess my inability to penetrate so difficult a subject,” and “Admission (of one’s ignorance) is a specific (religious) duty.”

3. Realize that knowledge is a candle in the darkness of the world. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The superiority of the learned man over the worshipper is like that of the moon, on the night when it is full, over the rest of the stars. The learned are the heirs of the Prophets,” (Abu Dawud). If food is sustenance to your physical body, knowledge is the sustenance to your inner body. But the candle needs to remain lit, by constantly seeking knowledge—it is a means to existence, not the ends. Recently when I was learning about Rumi from Shaykh Dr. Akram Nadwi, he turned out to be very different to what the world makes him out to be. What folly it would be to think I knew it all already. I remember how Malcolm X in his jail cell read the whole dictionary. He used to read on the floor in the night from a glimmer of light—”Each time I heard the approaching footsteps, I jumped into bed and feigned sleep.”

4. Chill with the people of knowledge. If we want knowledge to get closer to our Lord, then it isn’t going to happen through reading Facebook updates or simply watchingYoutube videos (though they have their uses). We need to learn and chill with the people of knowledge (and recognize scholarship). Allah elevates them, “And these examples We present to the people, but none will understand them except those of knowledge,” (Qur’an, 29: 43). We gain more than knowledge from them. The mother of a young Imam Malik said to him (before he went to study with his teacher), ‘Learn his Adab [manners] before learning his knowledge.’ Search for local classes, travel to gatherings, invite scholars to your town.

5. We learn how to master games, do we learn about how to learn?Let us learn how to read a book. Shaykh Hamza has two incredible lectures on that here. My teacher says that to learn we don’t need time-management, but self-management—if you can’t control your sinning then you won’t learn. If you want a receptive mind, then discipline your sleep, your food, your idle-time. In ‘The Value of Time’ by Shaykh Abu Ghuddah we learn how people like Dawud al-Ta’i used to eat bread crumbs, and would say: “The difference between eating crumbs and chewing bread is the reading of fifty verses.”

6. If you’re familiar with the following, then you need to be careful.Kathryn Schultz has an awesome TED talk on ‘wrongology’ and talks about the reactions that take place in the mind of a person who is stuck in ‘rightness’, when someone doesn’t agree with them. (1) You assume the person is ignorant and that they do not have the same information as you. (2) If they do have the same information then you think they’re idiots that they do not have the ability to put the information together. (3) If they do have the same information and a right way of putting it together, then they must be evil or have motives that lead to them misrepresenting the truth for their own purposes. If any of this sounds familiar then take a step back and think of the people you have been shunning.

7. Don’t let envy block your mind from truth (like Satan).Allah (swt) is Al-Mun’im (Giver of Blessing)—but envy is to desire that a person lose what Allah (swt) has chosen for them. Satan thought himself superior to Adam (peace be upon him) and envied him, thus disobeying Allah (swt), and didn’t forgive. Enviers develop a mindset that makes it impossible to admit they’re wrong. Pharaoh was envious of Moses (he couldn’t comprehend seeing a prophet chosen among the enslaved people); and disbelievers including Abu Jahl, Umayya ibn Khalaf and al-Walid ibn al-Mughira were envious of the Prophet (pbuh), secretly wishing they received revelation from Heaven (Qur’an 74:52). People in leadership positions must especially be careful of being envious of others’ accomplishments. Spiritual scholars say that envy only damages oneself—to cure it one should love, praise and gift those they envy for their accomplishments. That one person you envy might be the one person that ends up as your saviour—assume good, kill gossip—the Prophet (pbuh)said “There are two things that no believer has been given anything better: a good opinion of Allah and a good opinion of the servants of Allah.”

8. Be wary of the clouds of love and hate.Umar ibn al-Khattab (ra) said, ‘Do not let your love be a total infatuation. Do not let your anger be destruction.’ He was asked, ‘How is that?’ He replied, ‘When you love, you are infatuated like a child. When you hate, you desire destruction for your companion.'” Delving deeper, the Prophet (pbuh)once said to his Companions, “Do you want to see a man of Paradise?” A man then passed by and the Prophet (pbuh)said, “That man is one of the people of Paradise.” So a Companion decided to learn what it was about this man that earned him such a commendation from the Messenger (pbuh). He spent time with this man and observed him closely. He noticed that he did not perform the Tahajjud (late night prayer), or anything extraordinary. He appeared to be an average man of Madinah. The Companion finally told the man what the Prophet (pbuh)said about him and asked if he did anything special. And the man replied, “The only thing I can think of, other than what everybody else does, is that I make sure I never sleep with any rancor in my heart towards another.” Go figure.

9. Mirror mirror on the wall… Tell me how amazing I am.If you have friends that constantly tell you how amazing you are—even when you’re wrong—then they’re not being good friends (tell them that). Be wary of anything in your life that fuels your ego, for your ego loves to think it’s right, and it feels good. If you have music which makes you love yourself delete it; remember that there are restrictions on these things.

10. Believing so strongly in our “rightness” and everybody else’s “wrongness” is breaking up the Islamic community. Allah (swt) created diversity in our brotherhood and sisterhood—He made us ‘into nations and tribes, so that you might come to appreciate one another.’ He Almighty says, ‘Had God so willed, He would have made you one single community.’ Yet today at least in the British Islamic community I notice that everyone believes they are ‘the mainstream’ to the expense of others (insert ‘too liberal’, ‘too conservative’, ‘chillers’, ‘fundos’, ‘deviants’ etc!). Sadly, this means we have a number of fringes (which do not talk), and we are devoid of a colourful centreground. It’s much easier to do it on your own than to sit down with those you disagree with right? I call that insecurity. We must call out those who divide us—and if your Shaykh or teacher is telling you that everyone else is misguided except for you, then you need to correct your teacher.

11. The Prophet (pbuh)said once, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should speak a good word or remain silent,” (Bukhari, Muslim).And the narration continues. Don’t talk for the wrong reason. Don’t run to be the person who is itching to grab the mic. Prophet (pbuh)said, “Whoever seeks out reputation, Allah will expose him on the Day of Judgment.”

12. Think it over, ask Allah. Though He (swt) is always available, let’s utilize those hours in the last third of the night. We’ll maybe begin to realize how important our rightness is in the context of our relationship with Allah (swt). If you live in a busy concrete-filled city, get out now and again; pray with the trees.

And I’m sure you know more. Allah knows best.