Childrens Column for YMD Oct 2014

The Qur’an for Young Hearts – 54

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

[190] And fight in the Way of Allah with those who fight you, but do not do overkill. Surely Allah does not approve of the wrong-doers.

[191]  Kill them wherever you get hold of them, and chase them out of those places from where they chased you out. Physical torture is worse than killing. But do not fight by the Holy Mosque unless they attack you there. But if they attack you (there), put them to the sword. Such is the reward of the unbelievers.

[192] But if they quit fighting, surely Allah is Forgiving, Kind.

[193] And, fight them until there remains no unbelief and the Religion becomes Allah’s. But if they quit fighting, then there is no rough-dealing, except against the tyrants.

 

Understanding the above Verses

The world is the world of the strong. If you are weak, you lose out everything: your property, your life and your honor. You are attacked for no reason. You might have noticed some boys, tough looking, tough acting in your own class and school. They go around bullying the weaker ones. They will push this one, elbow that one, trip a third and so on. The weakest of the boys simply had it. They are harassed left and right. In school their pencil is taken away, in hostel their food is eaten away. The girls, of course they tease and chase a lot, making them run here and there, trying to hide from them.

And these toughies form gangs. When they are in good numbers, they begin to attack even the strong ones. In the neighborhood, they control the streets and areas.  When they do that, those other peace-loving strong boys they were bullying also form gangs. Then gang fights take place. In short, the strong ones make the life of the weak ones miserable. Sometimes one or two of the weak ones commit suicide also.

This is how the world’s peoples and nations are. The strong ones bully the weak ones. They take away their wealth. Sometimes they enter the lands of the weak ones, on some pretext or the other. Some of them create the pretext to forcibly enter their lands. Then they loot, murder and imprison. In the prison they torture those who resist.

This goes on all the time. When the Crusaders started from Europe to invade the Muslim lands, then, on the way, the holy warriors pillaged their own villages and town, looted and destroyed them. The raped women. Jews were special targets. They killed them wherever they found them. This they were doing even before they entered Muslim lands. So, imagine, what they did in Muslim lands.

So, there is no peace for the weak in this world. Peace, as someone said, is the peace of the strong. Mao Tse Tung said that peace flows through the barrel of the guns.

What is happening in our times? The strong nations invade the weak ones, if the weak nations have some riches. They loot them by the trillions. They create pretext to invade other people’s lands, with the help of newspapers, radio and TV, they spread false news, to justify their invasion. They say, “We are creating peace,” and from next day they start bombing helpless people.

So, what’s the solution? The Qur’an gives the solution. It says, “Fight those who fight you. If they have chased you out of your lands and sent you in refugee camps, you chase them out of your land.”

Yes, peace, is the peace of the strong.

But, Islam instructs, do not fight them in the holy land around the Ka`ba. That is, if they take refuge in the holy land, then, let them stay inside in peace. Do not go in to kill them, even if they fought you outside. But, if they begin to fight from inside the holy Haram, then, the instruction is, fight them there also.

If you do not fight back, they will torture you and make your life miserable. They will torture you, and torture is worse than death. So, fight out and finish off those who torture you. When you fight back, they will say, “Oh. You are a religious people, you should not be fighting.” Or, they will tease you and say, “You are terrorists.” Don’t worry about their propaganda. Their philosophy of life is all false. They have failed; and hate you for your peaceful life. See their life, rape, murder, divorce, child-killing, crimes, all these things go on all the time in their lives. The strong is looting the weak. Slums are increasing and more and more people are going below poverty-line. So, worry not for what they say. Fight for your lives, your property and your honor.

Exercise:

  1. In what sense is Allah near everyone?

 (To be continued)

Faruq and the Termites

It was a bright, sunny Sunday. Faruq had gone to the forest for a picnic with his teacher and his classmates.

Faruq and his friends began playing hide and seek.

Suddenly Faruq heard a voice crying, “Be careful!” Faruq began looking to his right and left, unsure of where the voice was coming from. But there was nobody there.

Later on, he heard the same voice again. This time it said, “I’m down here!”

Right next to his foot, Faruq noticed an insect that looked very much like an ant.

“Who are you?” he asked.

“I’m a termite,” the tiny creature replied.

“I never heard of a creature called a termite,” mused Faruq. “Do you live alone?”

“No,” replied the insect, “We live in nests in big groups. If you like, I’ll show you one.”

Faruq agreed, and they moved off. When they arrived, what the termite showed Faruq looked like a tall building with windows in it.

“What’s this?” Faruq wanted to know.

“This is our home,” the termite explained. “We build these ourselves.”

“But you are so small,” objected Faruq. “If your friends are all the same size as you, how can you possibly make something as enormous as this?”

The termite smiled. “You’re right to be surprised, Faruq. For little creatures like us to be able to make places like this really is very surprising. But don’t forget, this is easy for Allah, Who created us all.”

“What is more, besides being very tall, our homes have other very special features to them as well. For example, we make special children’s rooms, places for growing mushrooms and a queen’s throne room for our homes. And we don’t forget to make a ventilation system for our homes. By doing this, we balance the humidity and temperature inside. And before I forget, let me tell you something else, Faruq: we are unable to see!”

Faruq was amazed, “Although you are so tiny and you can hardly be seen, you still build homes just like the tall buildings people make. How do you manage to do all this?”

The termite smiled again. “As I said before, it is Allah Who gives us these extraordinary talents. He created us in such a way that we are able to do all these things. But now Faruq, I must go back home and help my friends.”

Faruq understood: “OK, I want to go and tell my teacher and my friends what I’ve learned about you right away.”

“Good idea, Faruq!” The little termite waved. “Look after yourself! Hope to see you again.”

Amazing Facts about Termites

  • Termites have been around since the time of the dinosaurs!
  • Termites live long lives. Every termite colony has a queen which may live from 15 to 30 years, laying hundreds of eggs each day. Any number of colonies may infest a home.
  • Termite colonies eat non-stop, 24 hours a day, seven days a week!
  • Termites do more damage than all fires, hurricanes and tornadoes combined.
  • The total weight of all of the termites in the world is more than the weight of all the humans in the world.
  • In Australia, termites build towers 6 metres high and 30 metres wide. Ten tonnes of mud are collected bit by bit by millions of insects. Soldier termites guard the mud castle, where the queen lays her eggs and is fed by worker termites.
  • Termite nests may be over 20 feet (7 meters) high and contain more than a million insects in a highly structured society.
  • These nests are intricately built, with a huge network of chambers and passageways, including ventilation, drainage, and heating systems.
  • Amazingly, termites manage to build their nests entirely out of soil, using saliva where necessary to hold it together!

Give and Take? Six Questions before
Giving Advice and Four Tips to Take It

By Chad Earl

Part 1: Introduction

We often hear and read that giving advice to our brothers and sisters is a critical part of our faith. “Ad-din An-Naseeha: Religion is sincerity” is often quoted to remind us of the importance of giving sincere advice to those who might take benefit from it (Naseeha can also mean advice). Yet all too often what we hear from brothers and sisters can be so harsh that it can scarcely be called advice. I would like to mention some things to keep in mind when we find ourselves on the receiving end of some of that bad ‘advice,’ but first as a reminder let’s clarify what Naseeha is and what it is not.

What is Naseeha?

Naseeha can mean both sincerity and advice, yet its meaning is much deeper than either of these terms. Imam Al-Ghazali, (may God be pleased with him), defined an-Naseeha as: “Wanting or hoping for the continuation of God’s blessing upon your brother Muslim from that which is beneficial for him (in his life and afterlife).”

Or as Imam Al-Khattaabi so eloquently stated: “It is guiding them to that which benefits them in this life and the next, refraining from harming them, teaching them that which they are ignorant about regarding their faith by defining it through words and actions. It is preventing harm to befall them, and bringing good to them. It is commanding them to Good, and preventing them from Evil with gentleness, sincere affection, and loving care for them. It is revering the elderly among them, and being merciful to the young among them. It is leading them with beautiful preaching. It is abandoning all forms of dishonesty, deception, and envy toward them. It is loving for them what you love for yourself, and hating for them all which you hate for yourself. And it is defending their wealth, and honor.”

The Importance of Naseeha

In his famous work, Risalat al Mustarshidin, Imam Al-Muhaasibi succinctly shares the heart of advice, stating:

“Know that the one who gives you sincere advice surely loves you.”

And: “Never abandon giving advice to the Believers.”

Along that line, we are reminded of a saying attributed to Omar bin Al-Khattab (ra) which says: “There isn’t any good in a people who don’t give sincere advice, nor good in those who don’t love sincere advisers.”

The companion, Jarir bin ‘Abdullah (ra), also reminds us of the importance that the Prophet (peace be upon him) put on Naseeha when he said: “I pledged allegiance to the Prophet to establish prayer, to establish alms-giving, and to be sincere to every Muslim.”

Imam Al-Bukhari (ra) relates in his book, Al-Adab Al-Mufrad that Al-Hasan Al-Basri (ra) said: “‘By God, People never seek advice without being guided to the best possibility available to them.’ Then he recited part of the verse which praises the believers who practice mutual consultation (Shura) which is a form of Naseeha, ‘And manage their affairs by mutual consultation.’ (Qur’an 42:38)”

Lastly, as the Prophet (pbuh) said, one of the six rights that a Muslim has over another Muslim is that: “…and when he asks for your advice, give it to him (sincerely).”

In conclusion, all of us value and cherish our personal freedoms. It’s normal to feel a little uncomfortable when we find other people intruding into our lives, but love for our brothers and sisters is at the heart of all sincere advice. We should try to open our hearts to receiving advice from those around us, even seeking it whenever possible. Accepting advice, of course, doesn’t mean that we have to implement everything anyone tells us, but that we listen with an open heart and thank them for their efforts to make our lives better.

Part 2: Want to Give Naseeha? Wait a Second…

All too often we hear about “advice” that is so poorly given that it’s downright offensive, usually causing more harm than good. There are a number of reasons for this, one of the most important of which is acting without proper knowledge of how best to give someone advice. As Umar bin Abdul-’Aziz said: “The works of one who acts without knowledge harm more than they benefit.”

So before you decide to come to someone’s rescue, here are a few questions you might want to ask yourself first:

(1) “Do I even know this person?”

If not, you’re probably better off not trying to “fix” their problem, especially without even properly introducing yourself and learning the person’s name. Only superheroes can get away with that!

(2) “Do I have all the facts?”

We sometimes see things that don’t seem right, and we have this urge to do something, anything, to change it. It may be that we see someone doing something which seems wrong but is, in fact, completely halaal (permissible). Even if considered Makrooh (discouraged) by scholars, that act would still be allowed, and can even sometimes be the most appropriate (or necessary) action that the person can do at that time and in that situation. Without knowing the full circumstances, we risk not only offending or bothering our brothers or sisters, we also risk making ourselves appear (or even becoming) narrow-minded or short-sighted by not trying to give them the benefit of the doubt. We may even restrict that which Allah, (exalted is He), has purposely left open for us knowing the challenges we face in this life often require making choices which aren’t ideal.

(3) “Is this the right time and place to talk about it?”

If it’s something bigger than “Brother, your shoes are untied,” you might want to think about the best time and place to talk about the issue. If it’s really something wrong, then perhaps it would be best to invite the brother or sister for coffee or lunch to discuss it. Not only would this give you a chance to talk about the matter in detail, it shows you actually care about them, which is all too often lacking from these kinds of scenarios where we generally just show how much we care about their “mistakes.” As Imam Ash-Shaafi’i said: “Shelter me with your counsel in private, and avoid advising me in public, for indeed, advice amongst the people is a kind of scolding I’m not pleased to hear. But if you differ and disobey my words, then don’t be sad when you’re not given obedience.”

(4) “Are my words and actions displaying my concern and love for my brother or sister, or just scaring them?”

Patience, kindness, love, and gentleness are all qualities which should be at the core of the Muslim’s personality, yet are often discarded out of “zeal” for the truth. If we think we’re going to make positive changes in this world without these noble characteristics, we are in for a rude awakening. If fact, when we ask a lot of Muslims who don’t generally frequent the Mosques as to why, we find it is these traits that we’ve decided aren’t worth taking with us which are scaring people away. Yet this is the complete opposite of what our Prophet (pbuh) told us to do when he said: “Make things easy and do not make them difficult, cheer the people up by conveying glad tidings and do not repulse (them).” In another tradition, he said: “Allah is kind, gentle and loves gentleness. He gives for gentleness what He does not give for harshness.”

A harsh approach is so unpleasant and displeasing to Allah (swt) that He revealed to our beloved Prophet (pbuh), who was a Mercy to the Worlds, the following verse:

“So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him].” (Qur’an 3:159)

(5) “Is my advice realistic?”

If you’re dealing with a complex or difficult situation, it is very easy to oversimplify the problem and offer advice that just doesn’t offer real solutions. If you can’t come up with answers that can really be implemented, perhaps they’ve also been trying to deal with it and have run into the same dead end. A good friend might be able to use this as an opportunity to help brainstorm, offer support, and make du`a’ (supplications) for the person, but in any event we should respect personal boundaries and remember that they are the ones who will have to live with the choices that are made and whatever consequences come from it, not you.

(6) “Will my advice be received well?”

At the end of the day, even if we say all the right things in all the right ways, with all the best intentions, the other person just might not want to hear it. When this happens we should try to have a little empathy and patience. Maybe it’s a problem they’ve been dealing with for awhile, or have received similar advice from countless others and they feel pressured and overwhelmed. Besides, it’s wise on our part to know whom we can and can’t reach. As Imam Ash-Shaafi’i said: “Surely don’t give your opinion to someone who does not want it beause you won’t be praised and your opinion won’t benefit them.” (Diwan Imam As-Shafi’i, Dar Al-Fikr, Lebanon)

This is not to say that we completely abandon advising our brothers and sisters just because we know they’re most likely not going to listen. Yet we should try to have more tact and empathy in doing so, especially amongst the youth when we see them go astray from time to time, knowing that they know better. We should make du`a’ for their guidance and well-being in this life and the next, and be there as friends and brothers/sisters to support them whenever possible to get them back on track. If and when the time is right to offer them advice we should be ready to give it from the heart.

Part 3: How to Deal with Bad Naseeha

As we have seen in the first two parts of this article, the word Naseeha means both sincerity and advice, which gives us a very clear understanding of where our starting point should be when we engage others to offer them advice. It is also where our starting point should be when we are on the receiving end of someone’s advice; poorly worded or expressed beautifully, wanted or otherwise.

When a brother or sister offers us advice (yes, even the really bad kind that gets your blood pumping), we should try to assume they mean well, even if we disagree with 100% of what they have to say. Knowing that the true Muslim only wants good for his brother or sister should empower us with enough patience to listen respectful and to hold our tongues from telling them, “Mind your business,” on those days when we just are not in the mood to hear it. Although easier said than done, this virtue is of the highest order, as ‘Aisha (ra) said about the Prophet: “He did not avenge a bad deed with a bad one, but forgave and let it go.” This was in keeping with the command he was given from His Lord: “[…] But pardon them and overlook [their misdeeds]. Indeed, Allah loves the doers of good.” (Qur’an 5:13)

So next time you find yourself in this situation, try to do a few things to the best of your ability:

(1) STAY CALM!

(2) Listen until they’re finished. When they stop, tell them Jazaakallahu Khaira (May Allah reward you), and try your best to actual mean it. Even if their delivery needs some major changes, we should remember that the Prophet said: “Whoever doesn’t appreciate people, doesn’t appreciate Allah.”

(3) Take some time later to reflect not on the experience, but on what was said. Ask yourself: “Could they be right?” Or, “Is there anything positive that I can take from it?” Often, someone from theoutside brings a different perspective, so we need some time to really think and reflect on it to get the most benefit.

(4) Remember that we’re all human, and we’re all growing in our knowledge and practice of our faith. Sometimes we hear things which seem strange and don’t make sense only later to come to the understanding that they were right from the beginning. We should never deceive ourselves into thinking we have all the answers to our own problems, or anyone else’s either, nor should we ever forget Allah’s words (swt): “[…] We raise in degrees whom We will, yet over every possessor of knowledge is one [more] knowing.” (Qur’an 12:76)

Conclusion

The recommendations in this article are in no way a complete or perfect guide for every situation, yet I pray this work as a whole will be of benefit to you dear reader, and I pray that I can be guided to apply my own advice before giving it to others. As Allah (swt) tells us: “O you who have believed, why do you say what you do not do? Great is hatred in the sight of Allah that you say what you do not do.” (Qur’an 61:2-3). And as Abu ‘Uthman Al-Hiri said: “An impious man commanding people to piety: A doctor giving treatment, yet the doctor is sick.”