Friday, June 24, 2016

My Son Is of My Family

Asalamu Alaykom,

Today, we reached the eleventh surah in Quran.  That makes us sound very diligent about reading Quran this Ramadan.  The truth is that it has taken us three Ramadans to reach this point.  I read the Quran to El Kid, but we don't zoom through.  We end up discussing and exploring meaning.  Our discussions are what every parent dreams of, but our page count is not anything to brag about.

Surah Hud explores the idea that you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.  Messengers (peace be upon them all) were sent with "glad tidings" or at least that's what it says in my Mohammed Asad translation.  Honestly, it makes me think of the Christmas carol line, "Glad tidings we bring to you and your kin.  We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!"  Anyway, The Truth can be delivered to your community, but that doesn't mean anybody is going to accept it.

Prophet Noah/Nuh had the task of being a loner.  He was different.  Not many accepted his ideas.  I understand him---not even his own son agreed with him.  Recently, I've had dealings with my oldest son that have us looking at life from two different angles.  I can understand the amount of anguish involved with wanting the best for your son and not being able to make it happen.  Again, you can't force someone to accept what you want for them---in any regard.

There has to be free will.  We can always offer, but then we also have to accept when it is not wanted.  Often, the people we want to accept Islam the most are the ones who are the least interested.  We have to let it go.

Here is the section from Surah Hud which tells us about Prophet Noah/Nabi Nuh

In the beginning, Noah really tries:

25. And indeed We sent Nuh (Noah) to his people (and he said): "I have come to you as a plain warner."

26. "That you worship none but Allah, surely, I fear for you the torment of a painful Day."

27. The chiefs of the disbelievers among his people said: "We see you but a man like ourselves, nor do we see any follow you but the meanest among us and they (too) followed you without thinking. And we do not see in you any merit above us, in fact we think you are liars."

28. He said: "O my people! Tell me, if I have a clear proof from my Lord, and a Mercy (Prophethood, etc.) has come to me from Him, but that (Mercy) has been obscured from your sight. Shall we compel you to accept it (Islamic Monotheism) when you have a strong hatred for it?

29. "And O my people! I ask of you no wealth for it, my reward is from none but Allah. I am not going to drive away those who have believed. Surely, they are going to meet their Lord, but I see that you are a people that are ignorant.

30. "And O my people! Who will help me against Allah, if I drove them away? Will you not then give a thought?

31. "And I do not say to you that with me are the Treasures of Allah, "Nor that I know the Ghaib (unseen); "nor do I say I am an angel, and I do not say of those whom your eyes look down upon that Allah will not bestow any good on them. Allah knows what is in their inner-selves (as regards belief, etc.). In that case, I should, indeed be one of the Zalimun (wrong-doers, oppressors, etc.)."

32. They said: "O Nuh (Noah)! You have disputed with us and much have you prolonged the dispute with us, now bring upon us what you threaten us with, if you are of the truthful."

33. He said: "Only Allah will bring it (the punishment) on you, if He will, and then you will escape not.

34. "And my advice will not profit you, even if I wish to give you good counsel, if Allah's Will is to keep you astray. He is your Lord! and to Him you shall return."

35. Or they (the pagans of Makkah) say: "He (Muhammad pbuh) has fabricated it (the Qur'an)." Say: "If I have fabricated it, upon me be my crimes, but I am innocent of (all) those crimes which you commit."

Then he realizes that he's never going to be voted Mr. Popularity:

36. And it was inspired to Nuh (Noah): "None of your people will believe except those who have believed already. So be not sad because of what they used to do.

He obeys the command to build the ark, even though he was laughed at:

37. "And construct the ship under Our Eyes and with Our Inspiration, and address Me not on behalf of those who did wrong; they are surely to be drowned."

38. And as he was constructing the ship, whenever the chiefs of his people passed by him, they made a mockery of him. He said: "If you mock at us, so do we mock at you likewise for your mocking.

39. "And you will know who it is on whom will come a torment that will cover him with disgrace and on whom will fall a lasting torment."


40. (So it was) till then there came Our Command and the oven gushed forth (water like fountains from the earth). We said: "Embark therein, of each kind two (male and female), and your family, except him against whom the Word has already gone forth, and those who believe. And none believed with him, except a few."

41. And he [Nuh (Noah)] said: "Embark therein, in the Name of Allah will be its moving course and its resting anchorage. Surely, my Lord is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (Tafsir At-Tabari, Vol. 12, Page 43)

His son isn't going with him.  This is the part that chokes me up:

42. So it (the ship) sailed with them amidst the waves like mountains, and Nuh (Noah) called out to his son, who had separated himself (apart), "O my son! Embark with us and be not with the disbelievers."

I really understood better this year the last ditch effort Noah was making.  The son wasn't on the ship.  The waves were already rolling in.  Honestly?  It was too late.  Noah called to his son who was now far away.  Why?  The disbelieving son had distanced himself from his father; the father still reached out to the disbelieving son.

43. The son replied: "I will betake myself to a mountain, it will save me from the water." Nuh (Noah) said: "This day there is no saviour from the Decree of Allah except him on whom He has mercy." And a wave came in between them, so he (the son) was among the drowned.

It's not that the son doesn't understand there is danger; he simply can't follow his dad.  There is a BOAT in front of him with his loving father once again begging him to jump on, but he can't.  The son is so stubborn.  He tries to think up another way to stay alive.  THERE'S A BOAT! but the son tries to find a mountain.  Subhanallah.  

Before we all think of the people we know who won't jump on our boats, we have to acknowledge that there's been a number of boats we ourselves refused.  Life is so hard when we are hard-headed.  Sadly, Noah's son right there and then---pretty much in the middle of stating how he was capable of doing it differently---has a wave rise up and drown him.

Noah saw that.  Noah saw his son's face, saw his son's hope in finding a way out of the disaster (as long as it didn't mean listening to his father), and then saw the water pull him under.  That's horrible.  That's not easily forgotten.  

The flood subsides thanks to the Grace of God:

44. And it was said: "O earth! Swallow up your water, and O sky! Withhold (your rain)." And the water was diminished (made to subside) and the Decree (of Allah) was fulfilled (i.e. the destruction of the people of Nuh (Noah). And it (the ship) rested on Mount Judi, and it was said: "Away with the people who are Zalimun (polytheists and wrong-doing)!"

That is MAJOR drama!  The flood, the earth swallowing water, the sky ceasing its rain, the ship on a mountain?!  If you were making a movie from this story line, you'd been working for months on these special effects.  Remember that Prophet Noah is in the center of it all---manning the ship through turbulent waters and pounding rain, and finally coming resting on dry land .  Right after he is saved, he is told that alllllllllll the people who teased him are gone.

What is Prophet Noah's first thought? 

45. And Nuh (Noah) called upon his Lord and said, "O my Lord! Verily, my son is of my family! And certainly, Your Promise is true, and You are the Most Just of the judges."

No matter what monumental challenge Prophet Noah had survived, his heart was still connected to what he had lost.  This year, that really hit me.  I've always felt a special affinity for this story as it relates to me and my family.  However, this is the first time I cried over these words because they simply rang so true.  The fact that God had safely brought Noah through the hardest time in his life wasn't on his mind.  Despite all our blessings, we all do mourn whatever we have to let go.

Noah wasn't sounding 100% on board with what had just happened.  If he was a prophet, then why had God let his son drown?

God answers:

46. He said: "O Nuh (Noah)! Surely, he is not of your family; verily, his work is unrighteous, so ask not of Me that of which you have no knowledge! I admonish you, lest you be one of the ignorants."

God sets Noah's mind to right with wiping away his doubts.  No, that wasn't a son who could come to follow the straight path.  It wasn't going to happen.  Besides that, Noah needed to simply believe in God and accept God's ways.  That's actually funny.  

God tells Noah to preach to the people---he does it.

God tells Noah to build a ship in the desert---he does it.

God tells Noah to gather up the animals---he does it.

Noah is FULLY believing and accomplishing every task until it comes to his family.  This is why the Quran says that children are a trial.  They aren't really ours.  We have them on loan (same as our bodies).  Yet, we want to think otherwise; we want to hold on to them as if they are an extension of ourselves.  They have their own minds and their own paths which is already known to Allah.

Noah realizes that he's gone too far.

47. Nuh (Noah) said: "O my Lord! I seek refuge with You from asking You that of which I have no knowledge. And unless You forgive me and have Mercy on me, I would indeed be one of the losers."

That's the moment of letting go.

48. It was said: "O Nuh (Noah)! Come down (from the ship) with peace from Us and blessings on you and on the people who are with you (and on some of their off spring), but (there will be other) people to whom We shall grant their pleasures (for a time), but in the end a painful torment will reach them from Us."

This is where the story ends, but Allah speaks to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in what has to be the most amazing story summation. 

49. This is of the news of the unseen which We reveal unto you (O Muhammad pbuh ), neither you nor your people knew them before this. So be patient. Surely, the (good) end is for the Muttaqun (pious)


Don't be afraid to build your ship, to board it, and prepare yourselves for the future.  Your family---especially your children---are to be invited on your journey of faith, but they can't be forced.  

Stay buoyant this Ramadan and always.


Anonymous said...

When I was young, my main problem was with God..Who created him was my question...I found HIM in creation of nature, universe, galaxies, nebula's,black holes and wonders within universe and beyond.
YOU SAID: ...Don't be afraid to build your ship, to board it, and prepare yourselves for the future. Your family---especially your children---are to be invited on your journey of faith, but they can't be forced.
Only one ayah reflects so many things in it:
Alhamdu lillaahi rabbil AAalameen.

All praise is due to God alone, the Sustainer of all the worlds,
The Galaxies
The Sun, of which we are a satellite like the other planets surrounding it, is itself an infinitesimally small element among a hundred billion stars that form a whole, called a galaxy. On a fine summer night, the whole of space seems to be filled with stars that make up what is known as the Milky Way. This group has extremely large dimensions. Whereas light could cross the solar system in units of one hour, it would require something like 90,000 years to go from one extreme to the other of the most compact group of stars that make up our galaxy.

The galaxy that we belong to however, even though it is so incredibly huge, is only a small part of the Heavens. There are giant agglomerates of stars similar to the Milky Way that lie outside our galaxy. They were discovered a little over fifty years ago, when astronomy was able to make use of an optical instrument as sophisticated as the one that made possible the construction of the Mount Wilson telescope in the United States. Thus a very large number indeed of isolated galaxies and masses of galaxies have been discovered that are so far away that it was necessary to institute a special unit of light-years, the 'parsec' (the distance light travels in 3.26 years at 186,000 miles per second).

Anonymous said...

I am not sure where you want to lead your older son. Since he at least at the age of reason... if it is religion (or lack thereof), it must be something he wants to explore of his own accord, without parents saying a word. Belief is a very personal thing and none believe exactly the same because not one of us has had the exact same life experiences.

If it is education/immediate physical and mental health/moral and social values, then I agree that a parent could feel badly about not being able to influence their child. For religious beliefs, all bets are off. Mothers love unconditionally and bend over backwards to keep a connection going with their child, no matter what. You are wise to leave it at that.

Deanna Troi

Yosra said...

Asalamu Alaykom Anonymous,

You have a lot to say! Have you ever thought to get your own blog?

Asalamu Alaykom Deanna,

My son...God bless just in a different place than what I would have imagined him being. I won't get into it other than to say that I'm proud of so much, but sad about some key issues which hinge on the personality he's developing. He's still young enough to ease into and out of attitudes, so I hope this too shall pass.

Love and Light!