Brave Young ‘Āisha: A Children’s Story

Young ‘Āisha (May Allah be pleased with her) lived with the Prophet (May peace and blessings be upon him) in Medina.

Medina was a city in the desert.

One day the Prophet (May peace and blessings be upon him) went on a trip.

Young ‘Āisha and some other Muslims went with him.

On the way back they stopped to rest for a while.

When they started traveling again they forgot someone.

They forgot young ‘Āisha.

Young ‘Āisha had lost her necklace.

She was busy looking for it when the Muslims left.

The Muslims did not know they had left young ‘Āisha behind.

She was all alone in the big desert.

Young ‘Āisha (May Allah be pleased with her) did not cry.

She was not worried.

She sat down where she was and waited for the Muslims to realize she was not with them.

She knew they would come back to the last place they saw her.

Eventually young ‘Āisha (May Allah be pleased with her) went to sleep.

While she was sleep another Muslim came.

He was checking to see if the Muslims had left any of their belongings behind.

Young ‘Āisha (May Allah be pleased with her) was not a bag or anyone’s luggage but she did get left behind.

The Muslim saw young ‘Āisha (May Allah be pleased with her) sleeping and said:

إِنَّا لله و إنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِعُوْن

That means: ”We belong to Allah and we will return to Him.”

Young ‘Āisha (May Allah be pleased with her) woke up and the Muslim helped her get back to the Prophet (May peace and blessings be upon him) and the rest of the Muslims.

Lessons:

Do not waste.

If you are lost stay where you are so that people can find you.

When something bad happens we say:

إِنَّا لله و إنَّا إِلَيْهِ رَاجِغُوْن

“We belong to Allah and we will return to Him.”

 


References:
Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhāri 2:593-594
‘Umdah al-Qāri 13:333
Faṭḥ al-Bāri 10:387, 386, 416

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Supplication after Salah

This was my first attempt at translating a book. I started in 2011, in response to a question forwarded to me about making ducā after ṣalāh. After completing the rough translation of Shaykh cAbdul-Fattāḥ Abū Ghuddah’s three booklets on ducā after ṣalāh, the files languished on my computer for a while, were proofread by a brother in the community with an English degree (may Allāh bless him), and then languished some more. Towards the end of 2017, I attempted to track down the aḥādīth mentioned in the book and attached the ones I found in the endnotes. Then I found out the book had been translated by people more capable than myself and decided to turn my efforts to other projects.

This is a link to the translation of the first of those three booklets: Supplication After Salah.

Prophet Isā For Children

Many years before our prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, was born, there was another prophet.

He was named Isā.

This prophet was not born like me and you.

He only had a mother.

He did not have a father.

When Isā, peace be upon him, was a little baby, he spoke to the people.

When he got big, Allah made him a prophet.

He used to perform miracles to prove that he was a prophet.

He would cure people who were born blind.

He would raise the dead.

He did these things with the permission of Allah, so the people would know he was telling the truth.

Some people did not want to admit that he was telling the truth.

They were his enemies.

Allah saved Isā, peace be upon him, from his enemies.

His enemies went to the house he was in.

They wanted to kill him

Allah raised him up into the heavens to keep him safe.

When the enemies went in the house, they arrested someone who looked like Isā, but it was not him.

The people at that time did not agree what had happened to Isā, peace be upon him.

Some of them thought the person they arrested and killed was Isā, peace be upon him.

But the true followers of Isā, the Muslims, knew that he had been taken to the heavens.

One day, Isā will come back to the earth.

He will help us, and fight the Dajjāl.

He will get married, have children, and eventually die.

Concepts:

  • Can you name a prophet like Isā, peace be upon him, who had no father? Hint: This prophet did not have a father or a mother.
  • Why do prophets perform miracles?
  • Dajjāl: This is the name of a person who will pretend to be something he is not. He will cause a lot of trouble.
  • Admit: You and your brother have matching toy cars. You put an x on your car so that it would not get mixed up with your brother’s car. One day, your brother took your car. He wouldn’t give it back when you showed him the x. You told your mother that he took your car and won’t give it back. She called your brother and asked if he had your car. Your brother lied and said he didn’t. He would not admit he had your car.
  • Muslim: A Muslim is a person who believes the prophets sent by Allāh were telling the truth.

A Meditation on Robert Frost’s Birches

“Die now, Die now, in this love die; When you have died in this love, you will all receive new life./ Die now, die now, and do not fear this death, for you will come forth from this earth and seize the heavens.”- Rumi

The child of William Prescott Frost Jr. and Isabelle Frost, Robert was born in 1874 in San Fransisco.(Frostfriends.org) His mother “was a spiritual woman, who read to her children from the Bible and Scottish legend.”(Frostfriends.org) Robert Frost wrote his first poems while a student at Lawrence High School, and in 1913 published A Boy’s Will.(English.illinois.edu) His  third work “Mountain Interval, which appeared in November 1916, offered readers some of his finest poems, such as ‘Birches’”.(English.illinois.edu) “Birches” followed the format of a Greek ode, with a strophe (introduction of talking points), antistrophe (development of aforesaid talking points), and epode (a conclusion commenting on those talking points). Greek odes were a serious, stately, and elegant treatment of a subject (normally athletic achievement), and lends itself well to the topic Frost is dealing with. Fond of deep philosophical thinking and posing questions about the ‘eternal verities’, it is little wonder that he would use the somber format of a Greek ode for this particular poem. In the following lines we will look at the development of “Birches” (i.e. the talking points and final comments), as well as explore some of the meanings behind the poem in the context of the Greek ode.

To proceed, we find that the poem opens up with a description of birch trees bent “to left and right.”(line 1) This image of bowed deciduous hardwood trees, “associated with the Tír na nÓg, the land of the dead and the Sidhe, in Gaelic folklore, and as such frequently appear[ring] in Scottish, Irish, and English folksongs and ballads in association with death, or fairies, or returning from the grave,”(Facts) is juxtaposed by the description of a nameless mass of “straighter darker trees”(line 2) hovering, almost ominously, in the background. This mixture of contrasting images is developed throughout the poem and continues as the poet begins wistfully describing how he envisions a boy “swinging them”(line 3) as the cause for their bent forms, and refutes this notion in the next lines by stating “But swinging doesn’t bend them down to stay./Ice-storms do that.”(lines 4-5) That is, despite the romantic notion that this is just the boisterous fun of children, something more serious is at work on the trees. As he draws the strophe to a close, he utilizes ironic imagery: “Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground/Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair/Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.”(lines 18-20) This incongruity between youthful males and females frolicking and the pale, bent forms of what must certainly be old trees, an apt metaphor for the elderly, as well as the vagaries of life as signified by the ice-storm is developed throughout the poem. The themes of death, life, tribulations, youth, and old age  seem to be the main topics he is developing as his ‘talking points’.

The theme of youth and old age persists in the antistrophe. But here youth’s benign, if a bit dangerous, amusements are depicted as lessons, a form of learning at the hands of the wizened birch tree. The notion that the tree is symbolic of an erudite teacher is added, while Truth (death) continues to hover in the background. Frost speaks of youth gaining experience from his carefree play, “conquer[ing]”(line 32) and “subdu[ing]”(line 28) these stately trees, while detailing in a jubilant manner the glee with which this same youth “flung outward, feet first, with a swish”(line 39) Interestingly, the joyous state of the boy in this daydream, if you will, is shaped in spite of the truth. As the Arab poet has said: ladū lil mat wabnū lil kharāb “beget for death and build […] for ruin” (Google Books) The ice-storm (reality, the vagaries of life, or death) has worn these trees, and us, down. He, and we, would prefer the wear and tear to be caused by the playing of boys, but “Truth broke in/with all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm”(lines 21-22) Reality, it would seem, cannot be covered up so easily no matter how much ṭamannī (fanciful wishing) is done. Life collects a tax from us all.

This idea that life is finite, and riddled with both joys and sorrows, is something an old poet stated while lamenting the fall of al-Andalus. An old poet possessing the agnomen, Abū Ṣāliḥ/Abū al-Baqā (d. 1285), writes: Fa Jāicu al-dahru anwācun munawwacatun wa liz zamāni musarrātun wa aḥzānu (The misfortunes of time are of varied types/Time possesses happinesses and sorrows).(Fiqh ul Islam) In the epode, Robert Frost openly states that he was “once […] a swinger of birches,”(line 41) but the vigor of youth has departed, replaced, as he says, by a desire “to get away from earth for a while.”(line 48) Why is this so? The preceding lines list the reasons. He tells us he is “weary”(line 43) then draws a metaphor for his state in an individual whose “one eye is weeping/From a twig’s having lashed across it open,”(lines 46-47) and whose “face burns and tickles.”(line 45) He states that “life is too much”(). Despite this, he does not wish for death, that great destroyer of opportunity. He would like to climb birches until he was near heaven and “the tree could bear no more.”(line )

A poet fond of deep philosophical, the format of the Greek odes, especially the Pindaric which is ”generally more tranquil and contemplative than the Pindaric ode,” lends itself well to the serious contemplation of mortality. (Poets.org) Within the lines of “Birches”, in particular the epode, Frost vividly depicts the vagaries of life, contrasting youthful energy and fearlessness with the sorrows of old age when navigating the forest has become a chore, and giving up seems like a very good idea. However, he adds that there is something that makes life worthwhile, that smooths over the weariness, and is a soothing balm to the burning face. What is this cure for the sojourner through this world? Love. For “Earth’s the right place for love,”(line 52) Here, it does not seem to refer to eros, philia, or storge, due to the references to heaven, and thus, I believe, Frost speaks of love for the Creator. This is the balm, though for some the realization only comes in later years.

 

Radiant Lamp

 

When the heavens wept

over man’s foul deeds

and the cursed one was well pleased

When the world groaned and sighed,

and from the dark depths of oppression,

the weak cried

When the infernal fire sputtered and died

and the eavesdropping devils

tried to hide

In that ebon’ night,

a radiant lamp was lit

that spread its light

In the east and the west

Like a rising sun, this son

More sublime of character, none could be

This answer to a father’s ancient plea

More generous than the wind,

this Master of the best of men

And liege-lord to the noble ten

Praised in the celestial seven

And the earth below

He crossed the vault of heaven

beneath the moon’s brilliant glow

The world rejoiced at his birth

This is the chosen one!

Through him, the worship of the many

became the worship of the One

May Allah bless him until the sun dies

until the sky splits

until the blessed are blessed with abodes of bliss

May Allah bless him in an endless stream

May Allah bless him endlessly

Commenting on the following āyah:

<و إذ قال إبراهيم لأبيه و قومه إنني برآء مما تعبدون إلا الذي فطرني فإنه سيهدين و جعلها كلمة باقية في عقبه لعلهم يرجعون>

‘Allāmah Muḥammad Shafī’a (May Allāh have mercy on him) states, “This teaches the ummah to make as much effort as possible to rectify their children and progeny, and ensure that they remain Muslim.” He then goes on to list various means of doing this such as: giving parting advice (at the time of death), ensuring that knowledge of the religion is passed down to one’s progeny, and earnestly supplicating to Allah.

Pointing to the importance of this last item, he quotes Shaykh Abdul-Wahhāb al-Sh’arānī, “The most effective way of spiritual rectification in one’s children is the parent’s supplication that they will be spiritually upright and protected from corruption,” and then goes on to write, “I only draw attention to this because of the widespread negligence of it in our times. And Allāh is the one who gives Ṭawfīq.” –Aḥkām al-Qurān Vol: 4, Page: 173