Assalamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.
It has been a long time. Alhamdulillah. It is a well known fact that, when one is blessed to be pregnant, her circumference is inversely proportional to her levels of energy. Hence, bedtime had become somewhat rushed and “utilitarian” around here … But not anymore!
Alhmadulillah we gave our bedtime a makeover with the stories of the prophets as summarized at the end of most chapters in the wonderful book “Fasting from Alif to Yaa“, compiled by my teacher Umm Mujaahid Khadijah bint Lacina al-Amrikiyah (may Allah preserve her).
(Amazon sells it, but – if you can – do support a Muslim’s business and/or get it straight from the author HERE, Insha’Allah)
We have now gone through this book for 3 Ramadaans in Umm Mujaahid’s lessons and, although it is still a long time before the next Ramadaan comes along, this book is a must have even just for the stories of the prophet the whole family can benefit from, masha’Allah.
I don’t know about you, but I am forever hunting for good Islamic books I can use with my children; and by good I mean from authentic sources, without some crazy concepts in them, without haram images to have to sort out, written with care not only with regards to the English language, but especially to the contents of those story (i.e. you want to be careful what you say about a prophet and his story). Books like these for children are hard to come by but, once again, I am questioning whether we really need them when we can adapt books written for adults by adding some explanations and adjusting the vocabulary so that your 4 year old will get it.
Umm Mujaahid uses plenty of ayaat and if there is one thing I have learned about her is that she is very precise and cautious in the way she speaks – masha’Allah. She included plenty of comments to help a child reflect and relate to what is being narrated, as well as listing points of benefit and suggesting related activities.
Alhamdulillah for a better quality bedtime reading!
Assalamo aleykum. Little health and family issues in the last few weeks meant I had less time and energy to post, but I still have love for this little project. Alhamdulillah.
So here is the most recent feature of our wall (and bedtime stories repertoire): our poster about al-Khidr, Alhamdulillah.
As well as Stories of the Prophets we also used Ibn Katheer’s tafseer of surah al-Kahf. Here are some bullet points.
- His name comes from the colour green (أَخْضَر), because he used to sit on a mat (or a patch of dried vegetation) that turned green.
- The Qur’an tells us about him in surah al-Kahf, when Musa (‘alayhi as-salaam) sets out on a journey with his servant (Yushaa bin Noon) to find him.
- Musa is looking for al-Khidr to learn from him.
- When they find him, Musa asks if he could follow him to learn his wisdom, but al-Khidr tells him, “You will not be able to be patient with me.”
- Musa promises he will do his best and sets off with him.
- They go on board of a ship and the people of that ship, recognizing al-Khidr, let them on free of charge. However, during the journey, al-Khidr begins making a hole in the ship. Musa was shocked by this behaviour and asks him why would he do such thing to people that had been nice to them.
- Al-Khidr reminds Musa, “Didn’t I tell you that you were not going to be able to be patient with me [and wait to ask questions until I myself explain things to you]?” Musa apologises and they continue the journey.
- They come across a boy playing with other children, and al-Khidr kills him. Again, Musa is upset by this behaviour and expresses his concern to al-Khidr.
- Again, al-Khidr reminds Musa, “Didn’t I tell you that you were not going to be able to be patient with me [and wait to ask questions until I myself explain things to you]?” Musa apologises and says to al-Khidr, “If I do this again, then you can send me away.”
- They arrive in a village, but its inhabitant are not hospitable to them and they don’t want to treat them as guests. Yet, al-Khidr finds a wall that is about to collapse and fixes it, so that it stands straight again. Musa comments: “If you wanted, you could have asked to paid for this job.” He probably thought al-Khidr was being so nice to the same people who refused them hospitality.
- Al-Khidr then said: “This is when me and you go our separate ways.”
- But before Musa has to leave him, al-Khidr explains to him the reason why he did those things that Musa had found so strange.
- He had damaged the ship because it belonged to poor people and he knew a bad king was stealing all boats from people. Al-Khidr hoped to make it look broken so the king would leave it.
- As for the boy, al-Khidr knew for sure that he was going to grow up to become a disbeliever, and his parents – because of their love for him – would follow him in disbelief. Allah wanted to save them from it and give them a better child.
- When al-Khidr decided to mend the wall in the village where the people didn’t want to welcome them as guests, he did so because he knew that a good man had hidden a treasure for his children under it before he died; his children were still young and Allah wanted to wait until the two orphans had become adults for the treasure to be revealed.
- Al-Khidr explained that it was not his idea to do all those things but it was something he was commanded by Allah.
- One of the main things we learn from this story is that when Allah makes something happen, there is always a very good reason behind it and it is always for the best, even if it seems something bad at first.
Here is Yusef’s poster about Ishaq (‘alayhi as-salaam). It is mostly about his miraculous conception and the good news of him to his parents from the chapter about Ibrahim, because I found much of the information in the chapter on Ishaq was in fact about Ya’qoob (peace be upon both) and largely quoted from the Bible. Because Yusef is probably too young to understand if and how we can use these sources, we read those parts but I preferred to leave them out from the poster.
When I recently read this book, I found it full of beautiful stories the boys would love hearing. And they need to hear them too.
I decided to make some very brief story cards they could pick from at bedtime, Insha’Allah. I haven’t actually made any cards yet, maybe because writing down the stories makes me remember them Alhamdulillah, but I still think it would be a nice tool. This is the first. Ideally I would wait until I can print off 2 together and print them 2 per page Insha’Allah.
Story cards – birth of the Prophet
Here is the text:
This is the story of how the Prophet Muhammad was born. Because he was so important, some very special things happened around the time of his birth. As we know, he was born in the city of Makkah, in the famous year of the elephant. His mother was Aaminah bint Wahb. His father, ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abdul Muttalib, had already died. Someone came to Aaminah and said: “You are going to give birth to the master of this nation. Place him under the protection of Allah. The sign of his birth will be a light so strong that it will fill the palaces of Busrah, in the far away land of Shaam. When he is born, name him “Muhammad”, because he is called Ahmad in the old scriptures from Allah, and Muhammad in the Qur’an (Muhammad and Ahmad are almost the same name). And “Muhammad” means the he is praised by those who are in the heavens and by those who are in the earth.” When Aaminah was pregnant with him, she had a vision of the light in those far away palaces, but when he was born, she could actually see it. In the night of his birth, a special star rose in the sky. The Jews of Madinah knew what that meant, and they assembled their people and said: “The star of Ahmad, who was born tonight, has risen!”
Rephrased from “The Valley Came Alive” (from al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah) by Ibn Katheer
Yusef read about Dhul-Kifl and about the scholarly debate on whether he was a prophet or just a pious man (taken from Ibn Katheer’s Stories of the Prophets).
- His name means “One who took the responsibility and fulfilled it”.
- The preponderant opinion of the scholars is that he was a prophet. This is proven by the fact that Allah mentions him with the prophets (surah al-Anbiyaa’ 21:55-56 and Saad 38: 45-48)
- The evidence that he was a pious man (and not a prophet) is a report from Mujaahid. He told the story of how, when he became old, Elisha gathered all the people to look for someone who could judge between them after him. The man he was looking for had to fulfil 3 conditions: he had to fast all day, pray all night and never get angry. he asked twice and twice Dhul-Kifl replied he fulfilled those conditions, so he was appointed. At the time of his afternoon nap, he was visited by Shaytaan in the form of an old man. He kept Dhul-Kifl busy with a made up story of how his people had wronged him and asking for his help, so Dhul-Kifl couldn’t get any sleep. The same happened the second day. By the 3rd day, Dhul-Kifl was exhausted. He put a guard at his door, instructing him not to let anyone in because he really needed some sleep. When the old man arrived, the guard told him Dhul-Kifl could not be disturbed. But he managed to sneak I through a wall. He knocked from the inside and woke Dhul-Kifl up. He saw that the old man had enter without opening the door, so he asked him “Are you the enemy of Allah?” he replied: “Yes, and I did all this just to try to make you angry!” (But he didn’t manage.)
This was the second prophet Yusef was curious about. The bullet points below are taken from Ibn Katheer’s Stories of the Prophets.
- He was the 2nd prophet (after Adam and Seth).
- He is also known as Enoch.
- He is said to be the first person to write with a pen.
- He was born when Adam (‘alayhi as-salaam) still had 380 years to live.
- When Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was taken on the Mi’raj, he met Idris in the 4th heaven.
- Allah described Idris in the Qur’an calling him “Siddeeqan nabeeyya” (Surah Maryam 19:56)
- In the same surah (19:57) Allah says about Idris “and We raised him to a high station.”
- What does it mean? Ibn Katheer reports a conversation between Ibn ‘Abbas and Ka’b (rady Allahu ‘anhum) in which Ibn ‘Abbas asked Ka’b the meaning of this ayah. Ka’b said that Allah had promised Idris to give him the same good deeds as the believing people for each day he lived. He told this to an angel friend of his, and together they went in search of the angel of death to inform him. Idris was carried up the heavens on the wings of the angel. When they arrived at the 4th heaven, they ran into the angel of death, who had been sent to take the soul of Idris! The angel of death said he had been sent to take Idris’ soul in the 4th heaven, and he didn’t understand how he could be in the 4th heaven (but there he was!). So Idris’ soul was taken when he was in the 4th heaven. And this is the meaning of “high station”.
When I started giving the boys Islamic bedtime stories, they soon started asking to be told about prophets whose names they had heard, but that are not as well knows as Musa, Adam or Ibraheem (‘alayhim as-salaam). And I was stuck. So I learned a valuable lesson: Give your child your (adult) books to read. Children of a certain age don’t strictly need children books. Yusef loved so much having access to one of my (precious and cherished) books, he made him feel big. (He is saying that my Stories of the Prophets is now his, but I don’t think so… *smile*).
Anyway, the way we go about it is this:
- He picks a prophet. He reads out loud the relevant chapter(s) in the Ibn Katheer’s book.
- As he reads, I make notes in a spider diagram (he is not able to do this completely on his own at the moment, so I help him out).
- Then we make the spider diagram into a poster, which he writes (mostly) in his own words.
It is very effective masha’Allah. Immediately after completing the poster, the new information became part of Yusef’s “inventory” of stories, which he tells to his brother.
I think it is better for you (parent) to do the reading with your child and to extract the main points, but just in case you are somehow unable to do so, here’s the story how we wrote it in bullet points, Insha’Allah.
- Hud was a descendent of Nuh (4th generation after his, ‘alayhi as-salaam).
- He was an Arab. He is thought to have been the first prophet to speak Arabic.
- He was sent to the people of ‘Ad, famous for building tents with lofty pillars, and who were idol worshippers.
- It is thought they lived in modern day Yemen.
- Hud called them to worshipping Allah alone.
- They called Hud a liar. He replied he was a messenger sent by Allah.
- They called him “crazy”. He replied he was only giving them good advice.
- They refused to worship Allah alone, they were attached to their idols.
- Hud told them he feared they would receive a terrible punishment from Allah. They challenged him, asking him to bring the punishment on, if he was telling the truth.
- The punishment started off as draught.
- Then, when a cloud appeared, the ‘Ad were happy, thinking it was rain coming their way, but it wasn’t.
- The cloud brought a terrible wind that blew for 8 days and 7 night, destroying everything.
- The disbelievers were blown high up by the wind and then dropped on their heads, which would be crushed, making their bodies look like tree trunks.