Children’s Column Content for YMD November 2014

The Qur’an for Young Hearts – 55

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

[194] Sacred month demands sacred month: holy things (demand) giving back in the same way. Therefore, whosoever commits aggression against you, you also reply to him in the same way in which he commits wrong against you. Fear Allah, and know that Allah is with the righteous.

[195] (In the meanwhile) Spend in the Way of Allah and do not work at destruction at your own hands. And do things well. Verily Allah loves those who do things well.

Understanding the above Verses

Without the explanation of our old-time scholars, we would not be able to understand the above verse. The Qur’an was sent down without lots of necessary details. If it did, it would be a 100,000 page document. The Qur’an did not give details because the Prophet was there to give the details. And, then, using the details given by the Prophet, his Companions and others explained what was still not clear.

So now, if you read the Qur’an just for good advice, it is alright, you can do that and you will profit from it. But if you wish to know details, you must refer to scholars of old – known as commentators.

Of the above two verses, the first one is saying that, when you answer the challenge of the pagans who attack you during the Sacred months, they say, “Oh. You Muslims do not respect the Sacred months.”

What are the Sacred months? They are Rajab, Dhu al‑Qa`dah, Dhu al‑Hijjah, and Muharram. There should be no bloodshed during these months.

What the Qur’an is saying is that Sacred months have to be respected by both the parties: the pagans and the Muslims. If the pagans (or others of the enemies of Islam and Muslim) don’t care for the Sacred months and attack the Muslims, then why Muslims should not answer sword with sword?

The second verse, no. 195, has another meaning hidden in it. The plain meaning is that you should spend in the way of Allah. But, scholars have explained that the hidden meaning here is that you cannot continue to live in this world without supporting those who fight for your life, property and honor. You must help them continue to defend you with your contributions. If you could not go to the battlefield, then, at least spend on those who have gone there, their families and others.

What will happen if you did not spend on defense efforts? Well, it is like suicide. That is why it says, “do not work at destruction at your own hands.”

Summary:

Your enemies, O Muslims, have devoted their lives to fighting against you. This is because they are jealous of your peace, social happiness, your women’s hijab, and the innocent faces of your children. They will attack you whenever they want. When you try to defend yourself, they will say, “according to your own religion you should not be fighting this way or that way.” Actually, what they want is that you should not fight back.

Whosoever does a wrong to you, you must fight back. If you did not, you will be finished off by your enemies. But remember: do not commit a wrong on them greater than the wrong they commit. Piety does not merely demand a lot of visits to the mosque. That every other people do, visiting their temples, churches, etc. Piety has to be shown everywhere, even in battlefields. So, do not kill their ten for killing your one, as they do to you. This is piety, and Allah is with the pious.

Now, when you are attacked, you might be wishing to go and fight your enemies. But you may not be able to go because of one or the other reason. What should you do? Well, send the fighters your help with money, food, medicine, etc. If you did not do that, your fighters will die hungry and there will be no one left to defend you. Your enemy will come and slaughter you. So, not helping those who defend you, your life, your property, your honor, is like committing suicide. And, do whatever you do, well, keeping justice and kindness before your eyes.

Exercise:

  1. From your own knowledge, bring out another verse of the Qur’an which you cannot understand without explanation.
  2. Why has the Qur’an not given all the details to understand it?
  3. Where is the explanation of the Qur’an?
  4. Name a Commentary of the Qur’an which you have seen with your own eyes.
  5. Do you need a Commentary to understand the plain meaning of the Qur’an?
  6. Look into an Islamic calendar and find out the nos. of Sacred months in it.
  7. What is committing destruction at our own hands?

Dictionary:

  • Sacred: honored. During Sacred months, no warfare was allowed.
  • Aggression: attack, wronging another.
  • Document: any written material, short or long.
  • Companions: when written with capital C, it means, companions of the Prophet.
  • Commentator: he who wrote a book explaining the Qur’an.
  • Bloodshed: shedding or spilling of blood.
  • Pagan: an idol-worshipping people.
  • Devote: give something full attention.
  • Innocent: sinless.

 (To be continued)

The Woodpecker and Irfan

Irfan once went for a walk in the woods with his father on a Sunday. While he was walking, he was thinking about how beautiful the trees and all of nature were. His father then bumped into a friend, and as the two grown-ups were chatting Irfan heard a sound:

Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap…

The sound was coming from a tree. Irfan walked up to the bird that was making it and asked:

“Why are you hitting the tree with your beak like that?”

The bird stopped what it was doing, and turned to look at Irfan. “I am a woodpecker,” it answered. “We make holes in trees and build our nests in them. Sometimes we store our food in these tree holes. This is the first hole I’ve ever made. I will make hundreds more like it though.” Irfan looked closer at the hole.

“Fine, but how do you store food in such a small place?” he wondered.

“Woodpeckers mostly eat acorns, and acorns are quite small,” the woodpecker explained. “Inside each hole I make I’ll put one acorn. That way I’ll be able to store enough food for myself.”

Irfan was puzzled: “But instead of struggling with lots of small holes,” he said, “you could make one big one and store all your food there.”

The woodpecker smiled: “If I did that, other birds would come and find my food store and steal my acorns. But the holes I make are of different sizes. When I put the acorns I find into the holes, I store them according to their size. The size of the acorn exactly matches the hole I put it into. That way the acorn fits tightly into the hole. Because Allah created my beak so that I can take the acorns back out of the holes easily, I can take them from the trees without any problem. But other birds can’t do that, so my food is safe. Of course, I don’t have the brains to think all that out. I’m only a woodpecker. Allah makes me do these things. It is Allah Who taught me how to hide my food and Who created my beak in the right way for me to do it. Really, it isn’t just me—all living creatures are able to do the things they do because that is what Allah taught them.”

Irfan agreed: “You’re right. Thank you for telling me all that… You reminded me the great power of Allah.”

Irfan said goodbye to his little friend and went back to his father. He was very happy because wherever he looked he could see another of Allah’s miracles.

Amazing Facts about Woodpeckers

  • There are more than 180 species of woodpeckers worldwide, but none of them are found in Australia, Madagascar or New Zealand.
  • The most common plumage colors for all woodpeckers are black, white, red and yellow. A few species also have orange, green, brown, maroon and gold in their coloration.
  • A woodpecker’s tongue is up to four inches long depending on the species, and it wraps around the skull. Many woodpeckers have barbed tongues that help them extract bugs from trees and holes.
  • Woodpeckers eat bugs, sap, fruit, nuts and seeds. In the backyard, they are often attracted to suet feeders or nut feeders.
  • The two largest woodpeckers in the world are the imperial woodpecker and the ivory-billed woodpecker, but both may be extinct. The largest confirmed woodpecker is the great slaty woodpecker of Southeast Asia, which measures 20 inches long. The pileated woodpecker is the largest North American woodpecker species.
  • The piculets are a type of woodpecker found South America and Asia and they are the smallest woodpeckers, measuring only 3-4 inches long depending on the species.
  • Woodpeckers do not have vocal songs, and instead they drum on resonant objects such as hollow trees and logs, utility poles, chimneys, rain gutters and trash cans. Woodpeckers drum to attract mates, establish territories and otherwise communicate, and both genders are known to drum.
  • Between feeding, excavating nest cavities and drumming, woodpeckers can peck up to 20 times per second, or a total of 8,000-12,000 pecks per day.
  • Woodpeckers don’t get headaches from pecking. They have reinforced skulls structured to spread the impact force, and their brains are tightly cushioned and protected.
  • Most woodpeckers have a distinct undulating flight consisting of a few rapid wing beats followed by a quick glide when the wings are tucked against the body rather than spread like many other birds.
  • The average life span of a wild woodpecker can last from 4-11 years, depending on the species.
  • Woodpeckers are omnivores. They eat insects, insect larvae and eggs, tree sap, seed, nuts…
  • Woodpeckers have chisel-like bill that is used for drilling of the trees when woodpecker searches for food or when it prepares nest during the mating season.
  • Woodpecker is able to peck 20 times per second. It produces between 10,000 and 12,000 pecks per day.
  • Feathers that look like bristles on the nostrils of woodpecker prevent inhalation of wood particles.
  • Woodpeckers have zygodactil feet. Their feet have four fingers, two facing forward and two backward. This arrangement ensures strong grip to the branches and provides stability.
  • Woodpeckers have unique flying pattern: three wing flaps are followed with gliding. This pattern repeats all the time during the flight.
  • Woodpeckers are monogamous (one pair mate for a lifetime). Both male and female prepare nest in the tree. Female lays between two and five eggs. Incubation period lasts eleven to fourteen days. One month after hatching, young woodpeckers are ready to leave the nest.

Story

Parachuting Cats to the Rescue, Or Allaa Tatghaw Fil-Mizaan: A True Story

The mosquitoes in Borneo were terrible. On bad days, the people of Borneo would be covered in mosquito bites.

That’s right — those mosquito bites made them itch and scratch like mad.

The itching made them uncomfortable, but the real problem with the mosquitoes was that they carried a sickness called Malaria. This meant that sometimes the people who got bitten by mosquitoes would get really sick or even die.

Scientists from an agency called the World Health Organization wanted to stop the people of Borneo from getting sick and dying from Malaria. They decided to do something about those mosquitoes. They sprayed a chemical called DDT all around the villages of Borneo, because they knew that would kill the mosquitoes. It worked. The mosquitoes died and the people stopped catching Malaria.

Everything seemed fine, but what the people didn’t know at first was that the mosquitoes weren’t the only insects that the DDT had killed. Some wasps died, too. These were parasitic wasps whose larvae ate caterpillars. Without the wasps there wasn’t balance in the ecosystem. Because they were not there to eat the caterpillars’ larvae, the caterpillar population began to grow and grow. More and more caterpillars were born and they were hungry. They ate and they ate and they ate.

The problem was, the people of Borneo lived in houses with thatched roofs made out of grasses.

That’s right, the caterpillars ate holes in the thatched roofs and soon the roofs began to fall in. The people of Borneo replaced the roofs, but… there was an even bigger problem to deal with.

The wasps weren’t the only insects that ate the DDT. Cockroaches and other insects did, too. So, the cockroaches and other insects began to get sick. And these insects were the food for Borneo’s small lizards, the geckos. The more cockroaches and other insects the geckos ate, the more DDT got inside the geckos. The geckos started to die, too.

And the geckos of Borneo were eaten by cats.

That’s right, the cats began to die. But even worse… the cats were important because they killed rats. When the cats died, there wasn’t balance in the ecosystem. There were not enough cats to kill the rats. So the rat population of Borneo grew and grew. The rats began to overpopulate. More and more rats were born.

The trouble with rats is that — just like mosquitoes — they often carry serious diseases which people can catch from them. Now the people of Borneo worried that they might have an outbreak of the plague or another illness that could kill lots of people.

The people of Borneo realized they needed more cats to bring back the balance in their ecosystem. Some were borrowed from neighboring villages but they still needed more. And that is why, in 1959, members of the British Royal Air Force flew over Borneo in a helicopter and sent 20 cats in parachutes to the ground. Can you imagine that? Twenty cats in parachutes — all because some clever people disturbed the balance Allah had put in nature.

‘It may be that you hate a thing and it is good for you…’ (The Qur’an)

African Proverbs

  • Do not look where you fell, but where you slipped.
  • If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for something.
  • It is the calm and silent water that drowns a man.
  • It is the fool’s sheep that break loose twice.
  • It’s a bad child who does not take advice.
  • No one tests the depth of a river with both feet.
  • One cannot both feast and become rich.
  • One falsehood spoils a thousand truths.