Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fwd: Is there a PlayStation in Jannah?

Is there a PlayStation in Jannah?

For E Islam by Umm Ismail


Some years back my 11 year old son asked me if I thought there would be a PlayStation in Jannah(Paradise), because really, if there wasn't going to be one, then he didn't know if he still wanted to go there. While I was gratified to be thought so knowledgeable, I was also aware that my reputation as Oracle-In-Chief was now at stake.

So naturally I thought very carefully about how to respond.

His query reminded me of another, a few decades earlier. I attended Madressah(Islamic School) with an older aunt who graciously conceded to teaching me privately in the afternoons after school. When I started high school, she told me I would have to start wearing the hijab soon. Now this was the 80's – South Africa was in the grip of the last, bloody, grasp of institutional apartheid, the Rainbow nation hadn't yet been born, and a head-scarfed girl at my school wasn't an option.

So being 12 and opinionated, I asked her why, and whether I would have to wear it at school as well. I knew of other girls who wore it, then instantly discarded it at the school gate for the duration of the school day, only to put it on again when they went home. She replied that it would indeed be all right since hijab was for one's protection, and at school girls were protected (from what, I wondered!).

If wearing hijab was compulsory, my teen brain reasoned, then surely there had to be a proper reason. I also questioned why would it be ok to wear the hijab on one side of the school gate and unnecessary on the other side? Silently, I promptly decided never to wear hijab - until aeons later, at 17, when it made perfect sense!

When our children question us about Islamic principles, ethics or concepts, we often find it difficult to address their concerns head-on. We either react with self-righteous indignation, or sometimes we're just amiably dismissive, while pointedly informing them about what's allowed and what's not.

Our children however, are not pint-sized, programmable versions of adults, who after a few basic instructions – pray 5 times daily, learn all your Surahs(Quranic Verses), and don't forget the eating dua (prayer) – will then happily be on their way. Utterly complete human beings, endowed with a healthy curiosity and a growing intellect, they need to be engaged, debated with and have their sometimes misguided views, challenged. Their insecurities, preposterous or profound have to be entertained too.

The Quran constantly encourages us to ponder and use our 'aql (intellect):  "And We have certainly left of it a sign as clear evidence for a people who use reason." (Quran:29:35) and again "And it is He who gives life and causes death, and His is the alternation of the night and the day. Then will you not reason?" (Quran23:80). Despite this, we consistently choose not to heed to seek reasoning, nor do we expect our children to. Indeed we expect them, ironically, to do as their forefathers did and inherit the faith we sometimes wear with weary familiarity. Why?

Perhaps it is because we assume that wanting to understand the essence of a Divine instruction is to question its validity. Perhaps, more often than not, we ourselves don't understand its logic and wisdom. But does this have to be so?

As Hazrat Ali (RA) taught us, and echoed by educationist Ken Robinson, we raise our children for a time other than our own, in fact for a future as yet, quite undetermined. In order for them to grow into the Caretakers that Allah SWT intended, their faith must grow organically; because faith, unlike Granny's antique cups, cannot be passed down to future generations.

Their first steps into the world of meaning and values must be infused with the continued appreciation of the Divine Presence. This primal awareness as created beings starts with the athaan (call to prayer) in the new-born's ear, settles in the heart as a fledgling seed, to be delicately nurtured with love and patient understanding (and a healthy dose of humour). Not for nothing did the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) spend the first 13 years in Mecca nurturing this seed – its blossoming is what enabled that collective cathartic moment years later when the Muslims were ordered to wash the stain of alcohol out of their lives …. In the words of my teen, how awesome was that? 

If we want our children to be of those who "strive hard with their property and their persons" (9:88), who "invite to good and enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong" (3:104), and whom Allah SWT "will love and who will love Him" (5:54), we will need to encourage them to find the answers to their questions from within the Quraan. Let us from the beginning encourage our children to reflect on and be amazed by the universe outside of (and within) us and then weave into that the Qur'anic ethos. This will enable them to view and practice Islam with understanding and love rather than Islam being viewed  as sets of  mechanical actions or regurgitation of the verses of the Quraan without passion and affection.

There is NO excuse today not to make the effort to educate ourselves. Books, the internet, YouTube, community classes, all abound. Indeed, it's our emphatic duty as parents to be exemplary in the desire for authenticity, to "ponder and reflect" together with our children, and to seek out well-researched, thoughtful answers to their queries like why exactly are we here, If Allah SWT is so merciful, why do people suffer, what happens to good atheists, and ….  is there a PlayStation in Jannah?  

So back to my son. I explained that not having made that trip, I obviously couldn't give him any specifics, but what I could say for sure was that Jannah is where we will be unimaginably happy and content. I asked him to recall his most satisfying memory, and to multiply that by a gazillion (words like gazillion always make an impact) – and if that included a PlayStation, then a version of a PlayStation would be awaiting him. He nodded sagely and never mentioned it again, satisfied that his mother clearly was the go-to person when weighty matters preoccupied the mind.

He's 15 now, and the other day he sheepishly recalled that incident and exclaimed, "Mum, can you believe I actually thought Jannah was going to be full of PlayStations and games", and giggling mischievously, he added, "now I know it's going to be full of beautiful girls!" - and disappeared before I could feign shock-horror. Sigh … I suspect the "lower your gaze" talk is already overdue ….

The Year End Party

The Year End Party…

By Abu Muhammad Yusuf

Sharifa gazed at herself in mirror as she applied the final touches of make-up. A highly qualified Chartered Accountant, she remarkably climbed the corporate ladder in just a few years. She surely wanted her presence felt at her Company's Year-End Function. After all the CEO was flying in from the USA and she was to be seated right next to the local MD Mr William Cook.

The night had arrived and she wanted to be sure to shed her old title of being too "conservative and anti-social" as it tendered to hinder her career. That was precisely the reason she stopped donning her hijab(scarf) a few months ago. She felt that it impeded her progress. Tonight she was going to let her hair down!

She arrived in her latest BMW coupe scantly dressed turning heads,eyes and noses as she made her way to the function hall. Her perfume could be smelt a mile away. It was a night of glitz and glamour with many prominent socialites present.

Seated next to the MD Mr William Cook she listened attentively to some of the pre-party speeches, and the comedians were really hilarious. As William went to the podium to deliver his speech she gave him a supportive hug. Then there were moments of light entertainment before the actual bash kicked-off. William had been consuming alcohol and offered Sharifa a drink. She smiled and politely declined. Being brought up in a religious and conservative Muslim home she knew alcohol was a no no!

Sharifa was climbing the corporate ladder really fast and wanted to reach the top, irrespective of the cost. She was passionate about her career. It came well before her husband, baby and religion. Her baby was in a day care centre. Being at the top was her clear ambition. It was William's approval and signature that she urgently needed to move to the next tier.

A party atmosphere erupted in the room and the music blared out causing even the spoons to vibrate. William was soon completely inebriated and started loosing himself. William offered Sharifa a drink of wine. She thought for a moment and said to herself "its just a one glass and it will definitely not make me drunk and to refuse will be indeed so anti-social." She took the tall wine glass smiled and slowly sipped as the party fever raged.

It was now close to midnight. She faintly heard her mobile ring. Over 7 missed calls from her husband. She honestly thought she will call back when things are a bit more quiet and relaxed. Her husband, as was now a custom, stayed at home to look after their cute little baby Fatima. He never really approved of attending parties, not that Sharifa cared.

William insisted that she have a little more. She responded "ok just a little more", can't do much harm she thought. Being a teetotaller, in a short while the wine completely intoxicated her…she now lost control of herself and behaved like a party animal responding to William's passionate and intimate moves…

Soon they were on their way to William's car where he promised her the most memorable romantic moonlight drive. He stopped the car at a nearby park where he made very intimate passes and touched her at places she knew was so incorrect. She was now a bit more sober and began to realise her folly. As he tried to kiss her passionately she pushed him away. He was deeply angered and drunk and in a fit of fury, started the car, driving recklessly like a maniac. He now appeared to be the devil incarnate. Swearing and cursing her. He failed to stop at the traffic lights..she begged him, implored him to slow down but he became more rebellious and aggressive. Reeking of alcohol he now drove even faster. He had no control over the car and himself. She began to cry…

He swerved into the opposite lane and there was a huge bang… there were definitely two cars involved…it seemed the world had come to an end…she heard voices.

It was now well passed midnight. Good Samaritans ushered around them trying to pull them from the wreck. She heard one saying, " Oh no in the other car the driver is crushed to death!"

Than came the sound of sirens. Breathing became difficult. The fire fighters and paramedics huddled around her and frantically applied device after device. 'She's not not gonna make it,' she heard one of them saying. Her heart started pounding. She was soaked in sweat and blood. William lay motionless beside her, his head crushed.

Her voice uttered some feint words of regret as she was mounted onto a stretcher waiting to be loaded into the ambulance. She so regretted but there was no way the damage could be undone.

For a moment her eye caught a final glimpse of the other car in the crash. It was her hubby's car crushed…and beside it laid his dead body. She heard an emergency service worker screaming, "we still need to remove the baby from the wreck". She was quite sure, due to his caring nature he was so worried as she did not answer her mobile and came to see if she was indeed ok.

She shrieked and wailed, "Oh Allah what have I done?"…her mouth smelling of wine and her body stained in blood she gasped and breathed her last…

The lessons to be learned are so many but most important of all is, to live in this world as if you are going to die today!

It's better to be tagged "anti-social" and "nerd" than allow our colleagues, ambitions and careers to sway us into such deeds that will destroy and harm us and our families both in this temporary world and the everlasting life of the hereafter.

The Fear of Allah and good conduct leads to Endless Hope…                                                   

Sin and vice leads to a Hopeless End!

Slow down!

Slow down !

By:Abdur Rahman Umar

"Can you believe this!" lamented Yusuf as he looked sadly at his leg covered from foot to knee in a thick white plaster cast leaving his plaster stained toes exposed.

"This is so frustrating!" he continued, addressing his exposed toes who had now become his captive audience, "Just when everything was going perfectly. Now this! Like I needed it in my life?"

Ridwaan stood idly by, adding little to the lament being addressed to the toes. He fidgeted wearily with his cell phone paying little attention to the monologue until Yusuf turned to him and asked:

"Did you hear what I said? I really didn't need this in my life. Not at any time, and definitely, definitely not now. I mean..."

"What's so special about now?" enquired Ridwaan not bothering to look up from his cell phone.

Yusuf ignored his question, shifted painfully in his chair and struggled to get his leg into a comfortable position. He stared at some of the graffiti on his plaster cast "Mojo was here!" "Oops. My brain just hit a bad sector" "On the other hand, you have different fingers" and some other writings that became a bit smudgy with the first attempt at taking a shower.

"I mean how does someone rupture an Achilles tendon playing tennis? It must be a one in a million thing, and I am the one! So now I sit – six weeks with this thing on my leg. Six weeks! and at a time when the business is going so well. Just when we got the Department of Education tender for printing. There's so much to do .... preparation, layout, design. Yo! It was going crazy at work."

Ridwaan stopped fidgeting with his cell phone long enough to exclaim, "So what's the hassle. You get a nice break and fully paid on top of it!"

"You don't understand, do you!" said Yusuf, glaring at him. An uncomfortable frown crossed his forehead, "You don't know what it means. I really didn't even have enough time to eat let alone take a six week break. We were working 12 hours a day to get that tender out. So what happens now?"

"I know exactly what it means," replied Ridwaan, "It means you were moving too fast so Allah put down a speed breaker"

"What!" he exclaimed, "What you mean...speed breaker?"

"You see, sometimes when we rush through life and we forget the important things then Allah puts down a speed bump so we can slow down and reflect. Maybe a little sickness or a small problem. Just to ponder on what we're doing and what we should be doing. And that's it! You were chasing like a madman so you got hit with a speed bump."

He paused allowing his words to sink in then continued, "You know most of us get so caught up in life then we forget about Allah, our salaah becomes just a ritual and the family ...well, they even forget who we are. I bet your kids call you Uncle by now?"

"Hey, it's not that bad," said Yusuf struggling to find a comfortable position for his plastered leg, "But I hear what you saying. Things were getting a bit out of hand. I missed my daughter's pre-school jalsa, my son's graduation and dropped a couple of salaahs on the way and jip, Allah knows what else I gave up for this tender...."

Yusuf fell silent pondering on his situation, a thin smile broke on his lips and his face lit up with this new found understanding, "So this wasn't all bad then. Actually...."

"It was for you own good," Ridwaan completed the sentence for him, "Too often we forget the real things in life...our Allah, our Deen, our families and those so called little things we tend to forget."

"Yup," chorused Yusuf, "I remember a clever guy telling me once, pay attention to the little things in life, for one day you may find out they were actually the big things. Really can't believe Allah's mercy and kindness upon us. It is, as they say, more than that of a mother. He cares for us and even what I thought was a horrible misfortune was actually an act of kindness from Him."

Allah, The Most Wise, says:"…and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know." ( Qur'an-Surah Baqarah: 216)

A calamity that makes you turn to Allah is better for you than a blessing which makes you forget the remembrance of Allah.

 Let us slow down and ponder of the journey of life and make more calculated decisions that will not only benefit us in the transitory life of this world but more so in the eternal life of the Hereafter.