Amidst the gloom,
We will all be left alone
While family and friends head home
And flesh falls from rotting bone


al-Sawād al-A’dham: Usāmah Ibn Zaid Ibn Ḥārithah

Usāmah Ibn Zaid Ibn Ḥārithah

“The beloved, son of the beloved.”

Usāmah Ibn Zayd Ibn Ḥārithah Ibn Sharāhīl al-Kalbī is the son of Zayd Ibn Hārithah, the Prophet’s freed slave and adopted son, and Umm Ayman, the Prophet’s freed slave and “mother after (his) mother”. He was born into Islam and was eighteen or twenty years old when the Prophet died. cUmar would honor him and treat him with deference, and gave preference to him, with respect to gifts, over his own son, cAbdullāh Ibn cUmar.

He removed himself from the fitnah after the murder of cUthmān and died in the latter portion of Mucāwiyah’s, may Allāh be pleased with him, khilāfah. He lived in Mizzāh, one of the districts of Damascus, Wādiy al-Qurrāh, and Madīnah where he died in the year fifty-three A.H.

Imām Dhahabī writes, “He was extremely black [in complexion], amiable, shrewd, and courageous. The Prophet raised him and loved him immensely. He was the son of the nurse of the Prophet , Umm Ayman, and his father was white[1]. The Prophet  was extremely happy at the statement of Mujaẓẓiẓ al-Mudlijīyyu: Certainly, these feet are related.”

Usāmah Ibn Ẓayd narrates that the Prophet used to take him and al-Ḥasan and say, “O Allāh, love them for, indeed, I love them.”

Ibn cUmar relates that the Prophet deputed a detachment and put Usāmah ibn Ẓayd over them. Some of the people disapproved of his leadership, so the Prophet said, “If you disapprove of his leadership, you disapproved of the leadership of his father before. By Allāh, [his father] was qualified to lead and was the most beloved of people to me, and this one [Usāmah] is the most beloved of people to me after him.”

cĀisha relates that the Messenger of Allāh came to see her once and was so happy that the features of his face were shining. He enquired, “Did you hear what al-Mudlijīyyu said to Ẓayd and Usāmah [when he saw their feet]? Certainly, these feet are related.”

cAbdullāh ibn Dinār reports that Ibn cUmar was in the masjid once when he saw a man in a corner of the masjid whose clothes were trailing on the ground. He asked, “Who is this? If only he were near me [so I could advise him].” Someone said, “O Abū cAbdur-Raḥmān, don’t you recognize this person? This is Muḥammad, the son of Usāmah.” At this, Ibn cUmar put his head down and struck the earth with his hand. After a while he said, “If the Messenger of Allāh saw him he would have loved him.”

[1] Imām Al-Dhahabī writes in Sīyar Aclām al-Nublā:

‭  ‬ثم‭ ‬إن‭ ‬العرب‭ ‬إذا‭ ‬قالت‭ ‬فلان‭ ‬أبيض‭ ‬فإنهم‭ ‬يريدون‭ ‬الحنطي‭ ‬اللون‭ ‬بحلية‭ ‬سوداء‭ ‬فإن‭ ‬كان‭ ‬في‭ ‬لون‭ ‬أهل‭ ‬الهند‭ ‬قالوا‭ ‬أسمر‭ ‬و‭ ‬آدم‭ ‬و‭ ‬إن‭ ‬كان‭ ‬في‭ ‬سواد‭ ‬التكرور‭ ‬قالوا‭ ‬أسود‭ ‬و‭ ‬كذا‭ ‬كل‭ ‬من‭ ‬غلب‭ ‬عليه‭ ‬السواد‭ ‬قالوا‭ ‬أسود‭ ‬أو‭ ‬شديد‭ ‬الأدمة‭ ‬و‭ ‬من‭ ‬ذلك‭ ‬قوله‭ ‬صلى‭ ‬الله‭ ‬عليه‭ ‬و‭ ‬سلم‭ ‬بعثت‭ ‬إلى‭ ‬الأحمر‭ ‬و‭ ‬الأسود‭ ‬فمعنى‭ ‬ذلك‭ ‬أن‭ ‬بني‭ ‬آدم‭ ‬لا‭ ‬ينفكون‭ ‬عن‭ ‬أحد‭ ‬الأمرين‭ ‬و‭ ‬كل‭ ‬لون‭ ‬بهذا‭ ‬الإعتبار‭ ‬يدور‭ ‬بين‭ ‬السواد‭ ‬و‭ ‬البياض‭ ‬الذي‭ ‬هو‭ ‬الحمرة

 “When the Arab says,’ So-and-so is abyaḍ (white),’ they mean a wheatish color embellished with black. If one were the complexion of the people of Hind (India) they would say, ‘Asmar and ādam (brown).’ and if they were black like the people of Takrūr (West Africa) they would say, ‘Aswad (black).’ Likewise, those who were overwhelmingly black would be called, ‘Aswad (black) or shadīd al-udmah (extremely brown).’ An example of this is his statement, ‘I was sent to the aḥmar and the aswad,’[Muslim #521] meaning that the children of Ādam are not free of one of these two. With this in mind, every complexion fluctuates between aswad, and biyāḍ, which is ḥumrah (red).” (2:168-169 of the Muassas al-Risālah print)


You cut Joy at the root
You wreck the fresh blush of Youth
O, ravager of Beauty and fleeting Fame
Even the dead hearts tremble
at the mention of your name

Destroyer of crowns bedecked with jewels
And bellies distended, devoid of food
Your iron grip, none can elude

Your arrival is never premature
Though it separates lovers
From those they adore
Like the dull thud of dirt
Rapping softly on eternity’s door

Tagore, Rabindranath. “The Conclusion,” in The Longman Anthology of World Literature. Trans. Krishna Dutta and Andrew Robinson. David Damrosch, ed. 1st edition. 2004.

Tagore, Rabindranath. “The Conclusion,” in The Longman Anthology of World Literature. Trans. Krishna Dutta and Andrew Robinson. David Damrosch, ed. 1st edition. 2004.

Like other colonies of Britain, India was left in a woeful mess. The psychological and physical scars left by years of colonialism can only be imagined by outsiders. This paper will attempt to take a peek at those scars and one individual’s manner of dealing with it through an exert of one of his works: ‘The Conclusion’. It will consider the social and quasi-political background of the author and ultimately the educational argument that rather glaringly leaps forth from the written word of Tagore’s writings when the historical background is considered, specifically as depicted by the couple described in the story.

Utilizing the “keys…[of] superior weaponry, a strong profit motive, and Eurocentric confidence[,]”(“Learn About British Rule in India“) Britain managed to subdue an entire nation with its own rich history spanning centuries. The author, Tagore, was born ”three years after Britain took over the government of India.”(949) That is, the Bengali, Tagore, was born three years after rumors, if we are to believe this explanation of events, “…that the cartridges [of the Indian Army] had been greased with pig and cow fat, an abomination to both major Indian religions [caused the “Indian Mutiny”, which was started by] mainly Bengali Muslim troops.”(“Learn About British Rule in India“)

After this mutiny, the British Raj started, and along with controlling the government of the Indians, Britain began “educating them in British modes of thought, and stamping out cultural practices…”(“Learn About British Rule in India“) Though Tagore “benefitted… from the early example of the Bengali reformer Ram Mohan Roy (1772-1833) who, offered an early synthesis of European enlightenment with brilliantly reinterpreted Hindu tradition[,]”(949) we find that “he found his outside formal schooling to be inferior and boring and, after a brief exposure to several schools, he refused to attend school.”(“Rabindranath Tagore on education“) One may well wonder what it was about the education system in India at the time that produced such a dislike. Shades of this dislike can be found in his work.

Briefly, The Conclusion is the story of Apurba Krishna, a hindu who has just passed his BA exams in Calcutta and no longer has an excuse for warding off marriage. Instead of marrying right away though, he goes to see the girl, a meeting that is disrupted by the village “pagali”, Mrinmayi, whom he finds intriguing. Upon returning home he announces his intention to marry this rebellious madwoman and digs in his heels in the face of his mother’s opposition. The marriage gets off to a rocky start, appears to smooth out when the couple visits Mrinmayi’s father, hits a roadblock once they return home, and then finally comes to a “blissful” end once Mrinmayi realizes she loves her husband.

The work itself cannot be mistaken for anything but Indian, steeped as it is in that culture. Mouth watering references to “rice pudding, curds, and rui fish,”(951) and “dal and rice”(956) flesh out a story punctured with descriptions of clothing that is distinctly Indian in name. Apurba sets out to see his bride-to-be, decked out not in his “usual dhoti and chadar”(951) but in a “long silken chaplain, a puggree on his head…”(951) and finds her “trembling…painted and polished, tinsel round the bun in her hair, and wrapped in a fine colourful sari…”(951)

However, there appears to be a certain subtext running underneath it. Considering the fact that Tagora disdained formal education, as we have mentioned earlier, it is impossible not to view Apurba’s refusal to marry until after passing his BA “in keeping with the slogan of the day”, as something viewed in a positive manner. This is compounded by the fact that instead of being a dutiful son, Apurba refuses to marry the woman picked out for him by his wise mother and chooses a “pagli”(950) tomboy “bone-burning good-for-nothing”(950) who, “[i]n the ranks of biddable children […,] was regarded as a scrouge(sic)”(950) and who had the village woman in “a constant state of alarm at her wayward behavior.”(950)  Clearly, cultural practices are being undermined by formal British education, it being assumed that Apurba would have dutifully submitted to his mother’s wishes had he not been polluted by outside influences.

It is rather noteworthy that these two mismatched people are Other in the face of an organic and wholesome social structure. They both stick out like sore thumbs. Apurba causes trouble in his family, arguably due to his formal education, while Mrinmayi’s agitation seems due to a lack of proper upbringing, her father’s utter fondness for her preventing “her mother from imposing too strict a discipline.”(950) Thus we see that Apruba’s descision to marry Mrinyamayi is not due to love, but due to a revulsion at his mother’s choice. “The more he thought of the dolled-up kind of girl, the more repulsive became the idea of marrying one.”(953) This choice of his, and here one may wonder if it was not caused by exaggerated romances studied during the course of gaining his BA, can be contrasted by Mrinyamayi’s response.

In spite of the fact that she is “mad”, and had orally refused to marry: “I’m not going to get married,”(953) we find that she does get married, and we are not led to believe that she did so because she was forced to, the picture having already been painted of a free-willed individual who will not bend. In fact, she runs away multiple times after she is married, however, and quite unlike Apurba, she takes her rightful place in society, becoming the epitome of her father’s words, “Let no one find fault with my Minu.”(956)

Thus we find that though Minu is Other she is redeemable, whereas no such indications are given in the case of Apurba. Certainly he comes to love Minu, but do we ever see him change from the arrogant man-child just returned from exams who finds fault with his mother’s match? Does he mature over the course of the story? It is hard to tell from this brief excerpt, but from what we are given, very little about him changes and he never appears to integrate fully back into society in spite of the impressive alphabet soup he is acquiring at the end of his name, and that, it would seem, is the problem Tagore has with formal education.

Works Cited

“Learn About British Rule in India.” About. Web. 8 Dec. 2014. <;.

“Rabindranath Tagore on Education.” Infedorg. Web. 8 Dec. 2014. <;.

Tagore, Rabindranath. “The Conclusion.” The Longman Anthology of World Literature. Trans. Krishna Dutta and Andrew Robinson. 1st ed. Vol. E. N.p.: n.p., 2004. 949-60. Print.

Differential Instruction

What is learning? Is it the acquiring of some knowledge, fact, idea, or information from a ‘teacher’ to a student? Does ‘Teacher’ necessarily mean a living person lecturing or showing you something with the intention of teaching you? Could ‘Teacher’ be a book? Could it be a man/woman standing at the end of the next block, waiting for the traffic to clear so they can cross? According to some learning is “[a] change in an individual caused by experience” (Slavin 116). Another way of putting it is that it is “[a] systematic, relatively permanent change in behavior that occurs through experience.”(“The Science of Psychology: An Appreciative View, 2nd Edition (King)“)

So learning is something that changes an individual, whether it is a visible change or an internal mental restructuring that can’t be perceived, taking them from one state to another because of an experience they have gone through, whether it be good or bad, and whether that change is positive or negative.

Experiences differ. No one experiences the exact same thing or perceives it in the exact same way. My wife often mentions to me how she remembers incidents differently from her brother, who blatantly denies that things happened in the way that she describes. Our background, how we grew up, the things we like or dislike all effect the way we perceive the experiences we go through in life and the lessons we take away from them. You might go to class, listen to a lecture on how to raise children and come away thinking the speaker was talking a load of rubbish and has never had the responsibility of raising a child because what he or she is saying does not fit in with your experience raising your own son(s) or daughter(s). Another person may come away from the speech praising that same speaker, agreeing with every point and strategy that he offered, and it might not be because they don’t have any children, it could be that they have children and what the speaker said fits in with their worldview or their own experience of how to rear children effectively.

If learning is caused by experience, and experiences differ, the people absorbing these experiences differ and have different perceptions, the manner in which they learn will also differ. This is beyond just what you learn from an experience/lesson, and is about how you acquire these new changes in yourself, or this new bit of information.

Ibn Khaldun, the historian, mentions in his Muqaddimah: i’ᶜalam anna ṭalqīn al-ᶜulum lil muṭ’allimīn innamā yakūnu mufīdun idha kāna ‘ᶜalā al-ṭadrīj shai’an fa shai’an wa qalīlan qalīlan [you should know that instructing students will only be beneficial when it occurs in stages, little by little, bit by bit]. (533) This orderly manner of instruction and learning allows the student to fully understand the subjects being taught, and when this is accomplished, leaves the student in a calm state, allowing him/her to, as Kung-fu-tse says, “keep his head in the presence of a tiger”. (38)

The teachers problem, then, is finding that orderly manner of pedagogy that will be most efficacious in the face of disparate students each having their own individual experiences that influence how they receive and accept the instruction being given. A one size fits all methodology may leave some in the class with a weak understanding, if any understanding is gained at all, and as they progress, again, if at all, the blocks of knowledge being added to their weak foundation will leave them struggling.

Thus, it is essential that the teacher keep in mind that students  not only “vary in their skills and preferences in how they receive information”
(Webb & Metha 390) but also differ in the way that information is recieved, some being “imaginative, analytic, common sense, and dynamic”(Webb & Metha 390), and include varied ways of teaching the same subject in their lesson plans.

There are many areas of the classroom as well as instruction that can be modified to assist students in grasping the lesson:

Teachers can differentiate at least four classroom elements based on student readiness, interest, or learning profile: (1) content–what the student needs to learn or how the student will get access to the information; (2) process–activities in which the student engages in order to make sense of or master the content; (3) products–culminating projects that ask the student to rehearse, apply, and extend what he or she has learned in a unit; and (4) learning environment–the way the classroom works and feels. (“Differentiation of Instruction in the Elementary Grades. ERIC Digest.”)

If teachers keep in mind these points when attempting to teach it is hoped that they will be able to  reach a greater portion of their class, while keeping in mind that sometimes students will not pick something up. In such cases where there is a problem “the teacher [should] bring[…] the student to the attention of others who help decide whether special education services are warranted.”(Friend 50)

Works Cited

Confucius. The Great Digest. In The Unwobbling Pivot & The Great Digest: Trans. Ezra Pound. 1947. Print.

Friend, Marilyn Penovich, and William D. Bursuck. Including Students with Special Needs: A Practical Guide for Classroom Teachers. 5th ed. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson, 2009. Print.

Ibn Khaldun, Abdur-Rahman. Muqaddimah Ibn Khaldun. Beirut, Lebanon. Dar Ihya Al-Turath Al- Arabi. n.d. Print.

“The Science of Psychology: An Appreciative View, 2nd Edition (King).” Key Terms. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015. <>

Slavin, Robert E. Educational Psychology: Theory and Practice. 10th Ed., International ed. Boston: Pearson, 2012. Print.

Tomlinson, Carol Ann. “Differentiation of Instruction in the Elementary Grades. ERIC Digest.”Differentiation of Instruction in the Elementary Grades. ERIC Digest. N.p., n.d.Web. 11 Feb. 2015. <>

Webb, L. Dean, and Arlene Metha. Foundations of American Education. 7th ed. Boston: Pearson, 2013. 390. Print.

al-Sawād al-A’dham: Bilāl


Bilāl ibn Rabāḥ, may Allāh be pleased with him, was one of the seven who were the first to openly proclaim their Islām. He underwent severe torture for the sake of Islām but would not give his tormentors what they wanted. The Prophet ﷺ once mentioned that he had heard the rustling of Bilāl in Jannah.

Bilāl participated in Badr, Uḥud, and all of the campaigns with the Prophet ﷺ. He was the first to give the ādhān for the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ, and was in charge of the Baiṭ al-Māl (State treasury). The following āyah was revealed concerning him and Khabbāb,  Ṣuhaib, cĀmmār, etc.: “Do not drive away those who call on their Lord morning and evening seeking His countenance.”He had a sister, Ghufairah, may Allāh be pleased with both of them, but left no progeny.

Note: The commonly  heard tale that Bilāl, may Allāh be pleased with him, could not pronounce the shīn in the ādhān is not something to be repeated. (See: Kashf al-Khīfā. Maktabah cIlm al-Ḥadīth. 1:260-261, #695 & 1:530, #1520; al-Maqāṣid al-Ḥasanah. Dār al-Kutub al-cIlmiyyah. P: 112, #221& P: 247, #582) Please consult your local culama who are versed in the science of ḥadīth.