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February 2005
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Children's Corner

Hakeem bin Hizaam
Despite being a friend of the holy Prophet (Pbuh), he embraced Islam 20 years after the Prophethood was conferred, a fact that he rued all through his life.

Hakeem bin Hizaam, may Allah be pleased with him, was a great friend of the holy Prophet (Pbuh). Yet, he took almost 20 years to embrace Islam. This aspect of his personality has mystified many a historian of that age.

Hakeem was son of sister of Hazrath Khadija, the wife of the Prophet and has the unique distinction of being born inside the holy Kaaba. It so happened that Hakeem’s mother developed the labour pain while visiting the Masjidul Haram even while she and her friends were inside Kaaba which was then incidentally open that day. Pain grew intense by every moment. It was not possible to shift her to a place where better care could be administered. She was made to lie on a leather mattress. Soon she delivered a handsome baby boy who was named Hakeem.

Hakeem was though five years elder to Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, the twain shared a great deal of affection for each other and were bosom friends. Hakeem came from a family of Quraish which was known for its gentleness, wisdom and scholarly traditions.

Hakeem embraced Islam only while the Islamic army from Madinah was triumphantly marching into Makkah with the Holy Prophet leading it from the front. This factor constantly worried Hakeem. Once, his son found him crying inconsolably. When enquired about the reason, he said:

‘Son! There are three factors that constantly prick my conscience. First, it took me 20 years to decide about joining the fold of the faith after the Prophet declared his Prophethood. This gap of two decades has caused a serious dent into my account of virtues. I have missed a great deal of opportunities to share glories of Islam, attain virtues that my predecessors have carted away in mountainous proportions and which cannot be mine even if I distribute gold worth the weight of the earth in charity. Second, I know no way to express my thanks to Allah for having saved me from being killed in the battle of Badr and Uhud in the state of disbelief and at war against the Prophet. I had decided time and again never to confront the army being led by the Prophet in a battle. But Quraish compelled me to come out and join the forces on their side. Third, I was not bold enough to take a plunge in support of the Prophet. I tried many a time to go over to the Prophet’s side and recite the shahadah. But all this while I was swayed by the counterpull of Quraish’s status and pride of its leaders. I am devastated. I attracted all this curse because I preferred to look at the elders of the Quraish rather than the Prophet.

During the conquest of Makkah, the Prophet told his companions, “I am terribly depressed by four of my close acquaintances who have so far not entered the fold of Islam and continue to be with pagans. These are Hakeem bin Hizaam, Attab bin Usaid, Jubair bin Mutaam and Suhail bin Amr.”
Allah showed his mercy instantaneously. They all embraced Islam the same night. Consequently, the holy Prophet declared Hakeem bin Hizaam’s house one among the places where one could seek asylum while the Islamic forces were taking over Makkah.

Hakeem vowed to spend his wealth on the promotion of Islam once he joined the fold of Prophet Muhammad and sold away the majestic building known as ‘Darun Nadwah’ where the Quraish would gather during the years of rise of Islam and would conspire against the Prophet. It was under the ownership of Hakeem. The price he got was one lakh dirham. He gave away the entire amount for charity. He sacrificed 100 she-camels during the first Hajj he performed. Subsequently, he set free 100 slaves in the next Hajj. On the occasion of his third Hajj, he sacrificed 100 goats and distributed the entire meat among the poor.

He went to the Holy Prophet after the battle of Hunain and asked for his share in the war booty. The Prophet gave him some camels. He asked for more and the prophet added a few more inasmuch as he received a total of 100 camels. But the Prophet advised him: ‘Hakeem, the worldly possessions are very tempting. One who receives them with contentment, finds satisfaction. One who secures them with greed, remains unsatiated. He is like one who eats and eats, yet never feels the fulfillment. Remember! the hand that gives is better than the hand that receives.’

Hakeem declared then and there that he would not ask anything from anyone thereafter. He stood by his words through the rest of his life. Caliph Abu Bakr and Umar offered him his share in booty from the public treasury several times. But Hakeem refused to accept anything.

Encourage Kids to Help Others
By Seema Saleem
It was a cold and foggy morning. Wajid Hussain was going through the morning news paper while sipping his hot coffee. The newspaper was filled with sad stories of Tsunami victims and their pathetic conditions. Wajid’s heart ached to see the little orphans who lost their parents in the disaster. For a moment, he just imagined himself as a victim and his legs shivered at the mere thought. An idea struck his mind. He walked towards the breakfast table for his wife Kauser was calling him and his children for breakfast. At the breakfast table, he started a conversation with his children on the Tsunami tragedy and the victims. His two elder daughters Nida and Hira were well informed, but his youngest daughter Sadaf and little Saif did not know much about the calamity. He explained to them the plight of the victims and the help and support they need at this time of crisis. He said, “ kids, I have a suggestion for you. I know you all have been saving your Eidis and pocket money to buy a new and advanced computer. But my dear kids! Don’t you think those poor victims need your monetary help more than you need a new PC? There was a complete silence for a moment. They all looked at each other not knowing what to say. Wajid Hussain said “take your own time kids! And by the way, it’s just a suggestion,” and quietly left the room giving them time to decide. They all put their heads together for some time and then finally decided to help the victims. They all went to their father’s room and Nida said, “Baba, we have decided to donate the money,” and handed over the amount to Wajid. Wajid was very pleased and said, “Kids, you know you are depositing this amount in Allah SWT’s bank and you will be receiving it in many folds in aakhirah, inshallah”. In the afternoon, the children were waiting for their father on lunch when Wajid Hussain returned home with big cartons. Saif saw it and screamed loudly “Nida baji, Hira baji come here! See what Baba brought! They all came running and were surprised to see a brand new advanced computer. Sadaf asked, “baba you didn’t give the amount in donation? Wajid said, “I gave it beta, and here is the receipt. This computer is a gift for all of you from my side. And they all jumped with joy.”

(Moral of the story: Encourage and motivate your children to help others)

Nature Watch, Nature Watch
By Harun Yahya
As we all know, woodpeckers build their nests by boring holes in tree trunks with their beaks. This may sound familiar to most people. But the point many people fail to examine is why woodpeckers suffer no brain haemorrhage when they beat a tattoo so vigorously with their heads. What the woodpecker does is in a way similar to a human being driving a nail into the wall with his head. If a man ventured to do something like that, he would probably undergo a brain shock followed by a brain haemorrhage. However, a woodpecker can peck a hard tree trunk 38-43 times in just two or three seconds and nothing happens to it.

Nothing happens because the head structure of woodpeckers is ideally created for such a task. The skull of the woodpecker has a remarkable suspension system that absorbs the force of the blows. Its forehead and some skull muscles adjoined to its beak and the jaw joint are so robust that they help lessen the effect of the forceful strokes during pecking.

Design and planning do not end here. Preferring primarily pine trees, woodpeckers check the age of the trees before boring a hole in them and pick those older than 100 years, because pine trees older than 100 years suffer an illness that causes the hard and thick bark to soften. This was only recently discovered by science and perhaps you may be reading of it here for the first time in your life; woodpeckers have known it for centuries.

This is not the only reason why woodpeckers prefer pine trees. Woodpeckers dig cavities around their nests, the function of which was not originally understood. These cavities were later understood to protect them from a great danger. Over time, the sticky resin that leaks from the pine trees fills up the cavities and the outpost of the woodpecker’s nest is thus filled with a pool whereby woodpeckers can be protected from snakes, their greatest enemies. Another interesting feature of woodpeckers is that their tongues are thin enough to penetrate even ants’ nests in the trees. Their tongues are also sticky, which allows them to collect the ants that live there. If woodpeckers had evolved coincidentally as the theory of evolution claims, they would have died before they acquired such extraordinarily consistent traits and they would be extinct. However, as they were created by Allah with a special ‘design’ adapted to their life, they started their lives by bearing all the vital characteristics.

Forgotten Heroes, Piri Reis - the Naval Commander
Amidst the Turkish men of the sea of great repute, Piri Reis is by far the one with the greatest legacy. The famous (Piri Reis’s) map of America, which is a genuine document, not a hoax of any kind, was made in Islanbul in the early 16th Century. It focuses on the western coast of Africa, the eastern coast of South America, and the northern coast of Antarctica. Piri Reis could not have acquired his information on this latter region from contemporary explorers because Antarctica remained undiscovered until 1818 CE, more than 300 years after he drew the map.”

Piri Reis was born towards 1465 in Gallipoli. He began his maritime life under the command of his, then, illustrious uncle, Kemal Reis toward the end of the fifteenth and early centuries. He fought many naval battles alongside his uncle, and later also served under Khair eddin Barbarossa. Eventually, he led the Ottoman fleet fighting the Portuguese in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean. In between his wars, he retired to Gallipoli to devise a first World map, in 1513, then his two versions of Kitab I-Bahriye (1521 and 1526), and then his second World Map in 1528-29. Mystery surrounds his long silence from between 1528, when he made the second of the two maps, and his re-appearing in the mid 16th as a captain of the Ottoman fleet in the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. Piri Reis was executed by the Ottoman Sultan for losing a critical naval battle. It is sad that the contribution of Piri Reis as a Muslim Geographer is absent from so many history books.
Figs in Spain
Although figs may not have had the economic importance of olives, they afford an excellent example of the intensification of agriculture in Islamic Spain, manifest in the dazzling variety of the fruit available to consumers. From the standpoint of production for the export market, Malaga was the most important fig center, the city being surrounded on all sides by figs of the Rayyo (rayyî, also referred to as mâlaqi, Malagan) variety, “which is the best class of figs and the largest, with the most delicious pulp and the sweetest taste.” Malagan figs were exported by Muslim and Christian traders and sold in Baghdad and as far away as India and China, where they were valued for their taste and their ability to preserve it over the full year’s travel occupied in their transport.

In the Sierra Morena a wide variety of figs were grown, including the qûtiya (Gothic), sha’arî (hairy), and doñegal. The fig was also of interest to the agronomists: al-Hijâri reported that in the Garden of the Noria in Toledo there was grown a kind of fig tree whose fruit was half green and half white.
Respect Your Mother
By Saira Begum
There was a young man,before he was a Muslim, he lived with his mother until he was about 18 years old. Then he moved out of his home and lived in a different place on his own. During those days, he met some Muslims and became very close friend to them. Eventually he himself became a Muslim after learning about the beautiful religion of Islam from them. He made an effort every day to learn more and more about Islam. One day, he came to learn about the benefits of being good to one’s parents.. After knowing this, he decided to visit his mother whom he did not visit for many years. He bought some flowers and fruits for her on his way. His mother was very pleased to see him after so long. He started spending lots of time with his mother on a regular basis. During his visits, he would stare at his mother and tears would roll down from his eyes. The mother noticed this happening many times and asked him one day the reason why he visits her so much all of a sudden and why he cries. He told her about how he became a Muslim and that the position of a mother in Islam is very high. He also told her about the reward he gets for looking at her. But while looking at her, he cries because the mother is not a Muslim and would not be able to save herself if she dies in this state. The mother immediately recognised the beauty of Islam and became a Muslim.

Memo From a Child to Parents
• Don’t spoil me. I know quite well that I ought not to have all I ask for. I’m only testing you.

• Don’t be afraid to be firm with me. I prefer it, it makes me feel secure.

• Don’t let me form bad habits. I have to rely on you to detect them in the early stages.

• Don’t make me feel smaller than I am. It only makes me behave stupidly “big”.

• Don’t correct me in front of people if you can help it. I’ll take much more notice if you talk quietly with me in private.

• Don’t make me feel that my mistakes are sins. It upsets my sense of values.

• Don’t protect me from consequences. I need to learn the painful way sometimes.

• Don’t be too upset when I say
“I hate you”. Sometimes it isn’t you I hate but your power to thwart me.

• Don’t take too much notice of my small ailments. Sometimes they get me the attention I need.

• Don’t nag. If you do, I shall have to protect myself by appearing deaf.

• Don’t forget that I cannot explain myself as well as I should like. That is why I am not always accurate.

• Don’t put me off when I ask questions. If you do, you will find that I stop asking and seek my information elsewhere.

• Don’t be inconsistent. That completely confuses me and makes me lose faith in you.

• Don’t tell me my fears are silly. They are terribly real and you can do much to reassure me if you try to understand.

• Don’t ever suggest that you are perfect or infallible. It gives me too great a shock when I discover that you are neither.

• Don’t ever think that it is
beneath your dignity to apologize to me. An honest apology makes me feel surprisingly warm towards you.

• Don’t forget I love experimenting. I couldn’t get along without it, so please put up with it.

• Don’t forget how quickly I am growing up. It must be very difficult for you to keep pace with me, but please do try.

• Don’t forget that I don’t thrive without lots of love and understanding, but I don’t need to tell you, do I?

• Please keep yourself fit and healthy. I need you.

(Courtesy:The Message International)
The Abbassid Mosques
The building enthusiasm of the Abbassids took a new dimension in the construction of mosques as reflected in their size and character. Unlike the Umayyads who continued the stone tradition of Syria, the Abbassids adopted the Mesopotamian tradition of mud and baked brick construction often arranged in decorative manner or carved and moulded with geometric and vegetal designs.

The minaret of the Abbassids with its monumental character and size undertook another function, in addition to the call of prayers, consisting of advertising the presence of the Friday mosque from afar and sometimes used as landmark providing a sense of direction for travellers as the case of the minaret of Mujda.

These minarets also had a symbolic significance in that they expressed the prominent role of the mosque in the Abbassid society as well as a public display of the power of the Islamic Caliphate.

The Al-Aqsa Mosque

The earliest major mosque construction undertaken by the Abbassids was the rebuilding of Al-Aqsa. The mosque was originally built by Hazrath Umar (RA) (the second Caliph) in 634, but extended and improved upon by a number of Umayyad Caliphs especially Al-Walid. After its destruction by the earthquake of 747-748 the Abbassid Caliph al-Mahdi (775-785) rebuilt it in 780 and according to Creswell (1959) the mosque retained this plan to present times.

The mosque had a building lofty central nave leading to the Mihrab and covered by a trussed timber roof. The nave had a width measured by 15 places of worshippers. In front of the Mihrab, the space was covered by a great dome of bigger diameter than today’s and had four minarets projecting high in the sky.

On the sides of the nave there were 14 aisles, seven for each side divided by arcades each consisting of eleven pointed arches. The access to the nave was on the main gate on the north, as well as from numerous secondary doors (7 doors on left and right sides of the nave, and 11 on its eastern side). The major Abbassid addition was the introduction of the arcaded portico in the northern, western and southern side to protect the faithful from winter rain and summer heat as well as sheltering the poor and travellers.

The other feature introduced by the Abbassids was the unusual shape of its plan by running the aisles of the sanctuary from North to South parallel to the central nave and intersecting them with the qibla in the Mihrab area forming a T shape. This space configuration was also adopted in North Africa in Quairawan Mosque (Tunisia) (836) and later in mosques of Samara; Al-Mutawwakil Mosque (848/849) and Abu-Dullaf (860).

There are suggestions which consider this spatial arrangement to be derived from the Christian cross plan of the church but there is a little evidence of that especially if we knew that the spread of cross as well T planned churches took place only since the 11th and 12th century Romanesque and later Gothic Europe.

(Foundation for Science Technology and Civilisation.