.بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Recently, my little tutee E had turned eight years old. And someone, presumably a relative of his, had gifted him some money. With this money, he had requested that his mum buy him: some cardboard boxes. He has since made a little play-house in his living room.
We’ve each been created with potential. Various types, each according to our own natures. We’re here for a reason. To worship Allah : to have Īmān, to worship, do beautiful deeds.
As Muslims, the wonderful thing is that we can bring everything back to True Purpose. i.e. whether you become a heart surgeon, a businessperson, or a pilot, in the future: it’s all about our intentions.
Do you… begin with Bismil Llah ? Do you accept that we’re being tested, via goodness and via personalised trials?
Will you treat people well, and uphold standards of beauty and excellence? Will you pray, even in the middle of a ‘busy’ day? And so on.
My student E. I think I may be tutoring a future pilot, or plane/train/bus designer/engineer or something, In Shaa Allah , here.
He’s so passionate about certain things. Has built things like that house, and a Lego airport. Knows the makes and models of planes, trains, and even of fire alarms. What Allah has equipped the human mind with: we are the best group of creatures to have been made by Allah . What are we doing with our Divinely-gifted gifts?
E attends a local Catholic primary school. On the front of his reading log, I think I’d seen: a school slogan about learning, alongside “our friend Jesus”. Isa (AS). We are trying to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Jesus (AS). Moses (AS). Abraham (AS).
E told me that in RE (that stands for Religious Education, as he’d kindly clarified) they are learning about Muslims. They’d built model mosques, out of recycling material.
E had some questions for me, about Islam, if I wouldn’t mind answering. They had been as follows:
- Why do Muslims have to do things with our right hands?
- Why do Muslims take off our shoes when we enter a masjid?
- Why do we have Ramadan and Eid?
And so, I tried to answer. Right hands: I think I’d begun by trying to say something like, part of it is symbolic. We try to stay on the ‘right path’, and the right is associated with good. But then I explained that, we seek to follow the example of Muhammad (SAW). To do things like eating, with our right hands.
Some Islamic etiquettes of eating: mention the name of Allah . Eat with your right hand. Eat what is closest to you (i.e. try not to reach over for various foods).
An added note: generally, for example, cleaning oneself after using the bathroom. The left hand is used for that. Purity and cleanliness are very important in Islam. [You’ve also gotta wash with water every time you use the bathroom.]
Shoes off, before entering the masjid.
From what I’ve learned so far, it’s actually Sunnah to keep your shoes (or slippers) on while praying, and also ensuring that they are free from impurities, beforehand. But the tradition of taking one’s shoes off before entering the prayer space of the masjid… I think it’s about the carpets. And about not bringing impurities in. Generally, in Muslim households too: we take our shoes off at the door. And sometimes we’ll have indoor slippers, sandals, for ourselves and for guests. Cleanliness and purity.
Ramadan and Eid.
Why do we mark these occasions?
Ramadan: the month in which the Holy Qur’an had been Sent down. Religion is about being cognisant of Allah , and this is fundamentally aided by prayer, fasting, and charity. Thus: since, generally, we increase in these things in the month of Ramadan… It is a month of God-consciousness. [Of course, I’d tried to explain this in slightly different terms to my eight-year-old tutee. Even though he is very intelligent, Allah hummabārik].
Eid: one of these (two, annual) festivals is to mark the end of Ramadan. A day of rejoice and celebration. The other: to mark the event of the sacrifice of Ibrahīm (AS). His humble, devoted obedience to his close Friend, Allah . And how Allah had lovingly returned him with such great relief and rewards.
I think we can safely say that it all comes down to: being aware of our Creator . Cleanliness, both on the physical levels, and on the spiritual ones: certainly helps with this. The Angels, for example, like clean places. We have to pray in clean spaces, and not among filth.
We try to keep our thoughts (e.g. of other people) clean. And our words. Our intentions, our hearts, our living spaces, our bodies.
I think it’s kind of common, also, to hear such questions about Islam as: well, why aren’t you allowed to eat pork? [We can’t eat pork. We also… can’t tell porkies…]
As much as we can ‘reason’, and seek ‘scientific’ responses, the truth is that: as incredible as Allah has Made these human minds of ours… [capable of building incredible buildings, of performing heart surgeries, of sending things into space…] we also rely on Allah entirely, at all times. Even ‘atheists’ do: they aren’t in command of their own heartbeats or capabilities.
We want to be like Ibrahīm (AS). Devotedly obedient. And like Maryam (AS). [My aunt is currently working on the website of the Maryam Centre in East London: the Islamic women’s centre. Yet another aspect of the legacy of this incredible faithful Servant of Allah . Mother of Jesus (AS), an entire chapter in the Qur’an named after her, and such an example for Muslims, honoured by the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth Himself !]
And so, ultimately and finally, the answer to these questions about Islam is:
إِنَّمَا كَانَ قَوْلَ ٱلْمُؤْمِنِينَ إِذَا دُعُوٓا۟ إِلَى ٱللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِۦ لِيَحْكُمَ بَيْنَهُمْ أَن يَقُولُوا۟ سَمِعْنَا وَأَطَعْنَا ۚ وَأُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ هُمُ ٱلْمُفْلِحُونَ
“The only statement of the [true] believers when they are called to Allah and His Messenger to judge between them is that they say, “We hear and we obey.” And those are the successful.“
— Qur’an, (24:51).