Children’s Column – YMD October 2016

The Qur’an for Young Hearts – 77

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.

Verses from Surah No. 2, Al-Baqarah

[275] Those who deal in bank-interests shall not stand (on Judgment Day) except as he stands whom the Devil has driven to madness by touch. That is because they say, ‘Trading is indeed similar to bank-interest,’ whereas Allah has made trading lawful and forbidden bank-interest. So, he whom the warning has reached from his Lord and (so) gives up,for him remains what was in the past and his affair is with Allah.But he who goes back, it is such indeed who are companions of the Fire. They will stay there forever.

[276] Allah destroys bank-interest and cultivates charity.And Allah has no love for any denier, sinful (person).

Understanding these verses:

There is something which is completely opposed to charity. It is bank-interest. Actually, the right word is usury. But easier word is bank-interest. So, what is bank-interest? Well, it goes something like this. You have, let us say, 1000. If you put it in a bank and leave it there for one year, they will give you back 1100. That is 10% extra.

Now, that is strange. Where did the additional 100 come from? And, since you did nothing, what right do you have to get that extra 10%? Simple. The bank lends your 1000 to a shop keeper who is in need of quick money to carry on, or his shop will close down. The condition by the bank is that the shopkeeper will return 15% over the 1000 after one year. That is, 1159. The shopkeeper doesn’t like it but he has no choice. He is in a difficult situation, so he agrees. Sure enough, after one year he returns 1150. If he cannot, the bank takes away his shop.

So, the bank made 150 out of your deposit of 1000, gave you 100 and kept for itself 50.

Now, how did the shopkeeper make 150, that is, a profit of 15%, when it is so hard to make a profit of even 5%? Well, he did several things: (a) he purchased from his suppliers two varieties of materials (good quality and bad quality) and mixed them, but sold at the price of good variety; (b) he played tricks in his weights and measures, for instance, instead of weighing 1000 gm. he weighed 975; (c) he paid his employees less than they should get; (d) he made them work for maybe 10 hours instead of 8 hours a day; (e) he cut 2 day’s salary if any employee was absent for one day; (f) he cheated the government by not paying full taxes; etc. There are many other ways which he adopted to make a profit of 15%, so that he can pay it to the bank. In some cases, the shopkeeper could not make 15% profit despite all the tricks he played. So, in most cases, he borrowed again from the bank to save his shop. His due to the bank goes on increasing year after year after which the bank stops giving loans unless he can return some of the loans which have, say after ten years, become 125,000. So, what does the shopkeeper do? Well, his shop is worth 200,000. If he doesn’t return 125,000 to the bank, he will lose his shop. So, first he sells his wife’s jewelry. Then, after a few years he sells his house and goes into a rented house. If he is lucky enough to make some good profit, for several years, fine. But if he cannot, the bank takes away his shop, and the man goes into a slum. Next he will be selling vegetables on a cart. In this way, interest on loans increases poverty.

This was a simple example. In actual, it is more complicated. It is the same story when a man runs a factory on bank loans. The banks always get richer and people poorer. People’s houses become smaller and smaller, but the bank’s offices and buildings become bigger and bigger. In many cities, most beautiful buildings belong to banks.

Here, in this verse, Allah promises a banker, (one man running a pawn shop, or several people joining together and running a bank), that they will not stand on the Day of Judgment among mankind but like someone who has been touched by the Devil, so that, he doesn’t know where he is. One hadith says that their tummies will be made so big, that they will not be able to stand straight. Every time they manage to rise, Fir`awn and his folks, running away from punishment from one end to the other, will tramp them down. Then, as they manage to rise up, still staggering, Fir`awn and his folks will tramp them again, as they come back running away from the punishment at the other end. It will go on until they are all thrown into the Fire. The Prophet has also said that he who borrowed on interest, and he who lent on interest, are equal in sin and punishment.

What is the Devil’s touch? It is mostly his evil guidance. When someone begins to obey the Devil, then, gradually his mind and spirit get weak, until, he becomes so weak, that the Devil is able to affect him mentally also. So that, he begins to make wrong decisions, and commit errors. This is the secret behind the failure of Muslim businesses. If he continues, he becomes mentally so weak that he is unstable physically also.

That is the Devil’s touch. It can be easily avoided by following the guidance shown by the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Therefore, he who received the warning, and stopped in interest-bearing dealings, saved himself from punishment. If he had lent some money to others, in the past, say on 10% interest, he may take back the amount he lent (called the principle) and return the interest. He is also forgiven what happened in the past, when the Qur’an had not been revealed. But now, it is commonly known that Islam prohibits interest, and so, if anybody deals in interest, he will face the punishment. He who lends money on interest, is slightly greater in sin. So his immediate punishment is that his prayers are not accepted.

But all the evils of bank-interest are wiped out when, instead of lending on interest, Muslims help each other out by lending money to each other.

Interest also hardens the hearts. People stop loving each other. Will you hug a man on the Day of Eid, if he has taken away your house? Will an employee hug his boss lovingly if the boss cheats him while paying the salary?

But it is not money alone that is the way to measure. It is Barakah from Allah that descends on a people who avoid dealing in bank-interest, but lend each other, and, of course, do not cheat each other, when they have taken loans. The Barakah is the greatest of wealth.

This interest-lending was unlawful to the Jews and Christians. But they had little faith in their religion. The Jews modified their literature to make interest unlawful between themselves, but lawful with non-Jews. This is another reason why Allah sent another Messenger and another Scripture.

(To be continued)

Just Imagine:What if we could shrink the earth’s population…!

If we could shrink the earth’s population to a village of precisely 100 people, with all the existing human ratios remaining the same, it would look something like the following.  There would be:

  • 57 Asians
  • 21 Europeans
  • 14 from the Western Hemisphere, both north and south
  • 8 would be Africans
  • 52 would be female
  • 48 would be male
  • 70 would be non-white
  • 30 would be white
  • 70 would be non-Christian
  • 30 would be Christian
  • 6 people would possess 59% of the entire world’s wealth and all 6 would be from the United States.
  • 80 would live in substandard housing
  • 70 would be unable to read
  • 50 would suffer from malnutrition
  • (ONE)1 would be near death;
  • (ONE)1 would be near birth;
  • (ONE)1 (yes, only 1) would have a college education;
  • (ONE)1 (yes, only 1) would own a computer.

When one considers our world from such a compressed perspective, the need for acceptance, understanding and education becomes glaringly apparent.

And, therefore…

  • If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world.
  • If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million who will not survive this week.
  • If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace, you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy.
  • If you can attend a religious meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death, you are more blessed than three billion people in the world.
  • If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.
  • If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful, you are blessed because the majority can, but most do not.
  • If you can read this message, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all.

As you read this and are reminded how life is in the rest of the world, remember just how blessed you really are!

“And Which of the Favours of Your Lord Do You Deny…?” (The Qur’an, SurahAr-Rahman)


The Rat Trap

A rat looked through a crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife opening a package. What food might it contain? He was aghast to discover that it was a rat trap. Retreating to the farmyard the rat proclaimed the warning; “There is a rat trap in the house, a rat trap in the house!”

The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, “Excuse me, Mr. Rat, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it.”

The rat turned to the goat and told her, “There is a rat trap in the house, a rat trap in the house!” “I am so very sorry Mr. Rat,” sympathized the goat, “but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured that you are in my prayers.”

The rat turned to the cow. She said, “Like wow, Mr. Rat. A rat trap. I am in grave danger. Duh?”

So the rat returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer’s rat trap alone. That very night a sound was heard throughout the house, like the sound of a rat trap catching its prey. The farmer’s wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see that it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer’s wife.

The farmer rushed her to the hospital. She returned home with a fever. Now everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup’s main ingredient. His wife’s sickness continued so that friends and neighbors came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them the farmer butchered the goat.

The farmer’s wife did not get well. She died, and so many people came for her funeral that the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide meat for all of them to eat.

So the next time you hear that someone is facing a problem and think that it does not concern you, remember that when there is a rat trap in the house, the whole farmyard is at risk.


Amazing Facts

  • Atoms are mostly empty space.
  • If you removed all the empty space from the atoms that make up all the humans on Earth, the remaining mass could fit inside a sugar cube.
  • 111,111,111 × 111,111,111 = 12345678987654321.
  • You can use a blue whale’s wax earplug to work out its life history.
  • There’s a mantis that can camouflage itself to look exactly like an orchid.
  • There’s an insect that has gears.
  • The world’s oceans contain 20 million tons of gold.
  • If the oceans dried out, the salt left over would cover the continents to a depth of five feet.
  • There are more cells of bacteria in your body than there are human cells.
  • There’s a species of jellyfish that is essentially immortal.
  • Ladybirds can fly at speeds up to 60 kph.