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Posts Tagged ‘Qur’an’

Many things remind me of fall. Stomping on crunchy leaves as a kid, volleyball practice as a high-schooler, and yams baking in the oven, always. These memories are cozy ones and are reignited as the humidity of summer is replaced with early morning dew. And maybe this one particular memory is so embedded in my mind because baba and I have made it tradition…

Baba walks into my room.  “I think you should put on a shirt that you don’t really like. Or, one you don’t mind staining.”

I rummage through the pile of clothing laying on my desk chair and find an already stained shirt. More stains won’t matter. I make my way into the kitchen where baba has some newspapers laid out, a sharp knife, a bowl and three large pomegranates. He cracks one open and gives me half. We start the long process of picking apart the pomegranates. We’re careful not to throw the rind in with the seeds since it is so tough and sour. The process is relaxing, just baba and I plucking the juicy seeds out of their cocoons, trying not to make a mess. One can’t be in a hurried dash during this time. The pomegranates won’t let you.

After awhile baba reflects, “You know, pomegranates are mentioned in the Qur’an. Not just once, but three times!”

I nod. In my head I wanted to acknowledge that baba told us this every year since we were little, but I didn’t want to take away his teaching moment. I didn’t need a POM commercial to tell me that pomegranates are powerful fruits. These “Chinese Apples” filled our breakfast bowls before school. Soaked in rose water and sweetened with a little sugar, we would eat our morning pomegranate with some sliced bananas. I don’t really remember anyone else in our family liking it, except baba and I.

After my daughter’s check up at the pediatrician, I decided to make a stop at the grocery store. I had my list somewhere in the abyss of the diaper bag. Too much of a hassle to take out, I reassured myself that I would remember the items our family needed and I wouldn’t go overboard with the things not on the list. As I walked towards the produce section, the pomegranates were staged dead center of the aisle. $1.99 each. I remembered the great times with baba- picking the seeds and counting the purple hued stains on our shirts when it was all over.  Most of the pomegranates there were pretty bruised. I managed to find two that were in relatively good shape.

I walked over to the cash register, proud that I hadn’t veered way off course of my list which was still swimming between the wipes and diapers. A free cashier waves for me to come over, cooing at the sleepy baby.

“Ooh, brave woman! Those pomegranates can get messy. I had one for lunch. It took my whole lunch break to pick it apart!” the cashier exclaimed as she eyed the fruit.

I smiled, secretly looking forward to the peaceful moments and continued tradition of picking apart the pomegranates.

When I came home, I took out the bowl, lay some old magazines around the table, and waited for my husband to return from work. As he entered our apartment, I looked at his shirt and said rather matter-of-factly, “I think you should put on a shirt you don’t really like. Or, one you don’t mind staining.”

What traditions have you carried along from your childhood?

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So, my usra and I are memorizing Suraht al-Mujaadilah and the story of Khuwaylah bint Tha’labah raises many interesting points. Khuwaylah (ra) was married to a very old man, and during this time, it was common within Arab culture to curse one’s wife by saying, “You are to me as the back of my mother,” which is known in the Qur’an as dhihaar. When a husband would say this to a wife, this meant that he would be depriving her of intimate relations and it was akin to a divorce, but a) the husband can say this an unlimited amount of times and b) when he feels like making amends, he just returns to his wife. This essentially would leave the wife powerless. As one can gather, this is what happened to Khuwaylah, as I’m sure it was happening to other women in the Peninsula. The only difference, however, is that Khuwaylah demanded justice. She would keep going to the Prophet Muhammad (sas) waiting for revelation from Allah to grant her her rights. Initially, (pre-revelation from Allah) Sayidna Muhammad (sas) said, “Oh Khuwaylah, your husband is an old man, be conscious of Allah in him.” Khuwaylah, however, had a deep faith that Allah would reveal to Sayidna Muhammad (sas) and the rest of the humanity that she was being unfairly treated and the idea of dhihaar was not aligned with the teachings of Islam. She persisted, staying with Saydina Muhammad (sas) until Allah sent down the beginning of Suraht al-Mujadilah, and with it, came a very difficult punishment for those that abuse their wives through dhihaar.

First, Allah reminds those who do curse their wives in such a fashion that clearly, your wives are not your mothers, your mothers gave birth to you. SubhanAllah, sometimes we really need a wake-up call by stating the obvious. Also, we can just adopt sayings that really are not their literal meanings and be so unaware of the obvious. For example, the idea of saying “That’s so ill” (meaning it’s cool). Or, the story of the two fish and a turtle asks them how they enjoy the water and they respond by asking, “What’s water?”

Then, the punishment. Allah commands those who commit dhihaar and then want to return back to their wives that they must first free a slave. If they cannot find a slave to free, they must fast two months straight. Straight! That means, there is no “I am tired today, I’ll just skip this day of fasting and make it up.” If they are not able to do this, they must feed sixty needy people before they even touch their wife. It should be noted, that these are not three options, of which a husband can pick from. He must first try to find a slave, then try to fast the two months, then if those two fail, feed sixty people.

The story of Khuwaylah is impressive in so many ways. We see the persistence of a woman who knows that this Arab custom must be eliminated and has a deep faith that Allah will reveal something regarding her particular situation (remember, she was married to an old man, and Allah gives three ways of purifying him from his error). We also see the justice and mercy that Allah has towards His creation. This is a clear directive that husbands cannot deprive wives of their rights and vice versa, and yet, if we do err, “Inna Allaha la’afuwwun ghafur” (al Mujadilah, aya 2)- Indeed Allah is Pardoning, Forgiving. Then, we think of the punishment. We obviously think of it as a punishment, but in reality, Allah says why He issues it, “thaalika litu’minu billahi wa rasulihi”- this is so you can believe in Allah and his Messenger (sas) (aya 3). When we are fasting, it gives us time to reflect and make amends, and in a two month period of fasting, it would be hard to come out of it with a lower state of imaan.

Some questions that I do have: “Since the Qur’an is relevant at all times and places, and we know that this was an Arab custom that has been eliminated (I hope), how does it pertain to us today? Are there any phrases similar to it that the scholars would say the punishment would be the same?”

My second question is, “What if a wife said something akin to that phrase to her husband? What would the ruling be then?”

If anyone happens to know, please inform us 🙂

Any thoughts about the story of Khuwaylah (ra)?

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