Contributed by Muslim Bhanji,
As a mother of young Muslim children, I have always felt that stories like Beauty and the Beast, Rapunzel, Snow White and Red Riding Hood, etc. are too far-fetched from reality and have literally no significance in building up the correct Aqeedah at an early stage. Once exposed to these stories, their energetic imagination knows no bounds. First they would want the story books, then posters, then bed sheets and curtains of their favourite character. The clash starts immediately when you tell them that they can’t bring animated objects or pets in the house. They fret, they plead, they cry, but whose fault is it anyway? Ours, totally ours! So, what’s the point in getting them exposed to stuff that you would later regret about?
Over the years, I have found that Qur’anic stories are more intriguing, character building and form the basis of correct Aqeedah in young minds. The Ulemas stress the need to tell Islamic and Qur’anic tales to our children, so they can start learning at an early age.
When it comes to telling stories, one of my favourite stories is the story of the ‘people of the garden’ in the Holy Quran in Suratul Qalam (68:17-32).
The story of the ‘people of the garden’ was a famous story among the Arabs. It goes like this. Once a pious man lived near the city of Sina’ (Yemen). He had a garden that gave good crop of fruits. He, being thankful to his Creator, used to give the due share to the poor and needy.
After his death, his sons became the owners of the garden. But they were quite unlike their father. They believed it was their right to have all the fruit for themselves and not share it with the poor or needy. So, when the trees were laden with ripe fruit and it was time to harvest the crop, they made a plan.
“Let’s pick up all the fruit tomorrow, (without letting anyone else know about it). We shall keep all the fruit for ourselves and will not share it with the poor,” they said, and forgot to say Insha Allah.
So, in the morning they woke up quite early and left home without letting anyone else know about the harvesting. They kept their voices down when they talked on the way, so that none would know their plans. They thought that they would be successful in keeping the poor and needy out. But when they reached the garden, a strange sight surprised them. All around them was just a mess; no trees, no fruit!
“Perhaps, we have lost our way,” they said, but when they checked the signs and all the landmarks, they realised it was their own Garden! Allah (swt) did not like their mean plan, so He had sent His word to destroy their garden completely during the night!
One of the brothers was a good natured person. He reminded them that he had tried to tell them again and again to praise Allah (swt), for He alone is the Owner of the entire universe. We cannot take even a single step without His Will or Permission.
All the brothers realised their mistake and repented over their sins. They promised that if they were given another chance, they would amend their ways and share with the poor and needy, so that Allah (swt) becomes pleased with them.
Holy Quran says: “Indeed, We have tried them as We tried the companions of the garden, when they swore to cut its fruit in the [early] morning, without making exception. So there came upon the garden an affliction from your Lord while they were asleep. And it became as though reaped. And they called one another at morning. [Saying], go early to your crop if you would cut the fruit. So they set out, while lowering their voices, [Saying], There will surely not enter it today upon you [any] poor person. And they went early in determination, [assuming themselves] able. But when they saw it, they said, Indeed, we are lost; rather, we have been deprived. The most moderate of them said, did I not say to you, why do you not exalt [Allah]? They said, Exalted is our Lord! Indeed, we were wrongdoers. Then they approached one another, blaming each other. They said, O woe to us; indeed we were transgressors. Perhaps our Lord will substitute for us [one] better than it. Indeed, we are toward our Lord desirous”. (Al-Qalam 68:17-32)
Do you realise how many lessons does this short story give us?
5. Allah (swt) is the most Benevolent and Oft Forgiving.