Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

May 2012
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CHILDREN'S CORNER

Dodges Death, Blessed with Iman
A.I.Makki
The first Muslim armies fought a series of battles with the Persian Empire and emerged victorious. At that time, Harmusan was the ruler of a small part of the Persian Empire. He was the last among the Persian Kings to fight courageously with the Muslims. It was at the end of the third phase of the final battle that he was taken prisoner and was brought in triumph to Madinah to be put to death before Umar, the great Caliph of Islam and the Commander of the Faithful.
When he stood before the Caliph in chains, the Caliph asked him courteously whether he wished for anything. At this, Harmusan replied: “O great Caliph! I am extremely thirsty. Please bring me a pot of water and let me drink to my fill and after that I am ready to face whatever punishment that you may mete out to me.”
The Caliph ordered a pitcher of water to be brought before the prisoner. His wish was immediately obeyed and a pot of cool water was placed before the prisoner, while the angry Muslims who had fought with him waited impatiently with their swords drawn, standing close to him, waiting to strike at him at the command of the Caliph. Harmusan had noticed their frustration, took the pot of water in hand and hesitated to drink it. He thought that the Muslims would kill him, while he was drinking the water.
The Caliph understood his secret fears and said: “Do not fear a secret blow, for the Muslims do not kill treacherously. I give you my word that you shall not die until you have finished drinking from the pot of water that you hold in your hands”
Harmusan was clever. He had seen how the Muslims held their Caliph in high respect. Within a matter of seconds, he dashed the pot to the ground before him. The pot broke into several pieces before the amazed onlookers, spread on the hot burning desert sands of Madinah and soon vanished into the earth below.
Now, Harmusan stood triumphantly before the Caliph and said: “You have just given your word that I would not meet my death until I had finished drinking the water from the pot. Now, command your soldiers to gather the water that has been spilled from the ground and I will face death only after drinking that water.”
The Caliph was highly amused at the ruse employed by the clever Persian to save his life, and was impressed by his presence of mind. The Persians believed that a monarch’s word was sacred and hence it must be upheld at all costs. The Holy Qur’an had also commanded Muslims to be true to their promises. So, he commanded another pot of water to be brought before Harmusan. He said: “Drink, I said before and perish; now I bid you to drink and live for I grant you complete freedom!”
Harmusan was perplexed at the Caliph’s generosity, a quality which was unknown to the Persians. The Commander of the Faithful, indeed, had a noble character. He did as the Caliph had commanded, and said: “Now, I testify that there is no other god but Allah, and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah!”


Old Man and the Plastic Plate
Maqbool Ahmed Siraj (Translated from Urdu)
Illustrations by Fakrunnissa Mohsin

He was an old man who had not tasted any grief in his life. He had lived a happy life, siring a number of sons and daughters. His business had had a remarkable stability, never having suffered any loss. Now he and his wife were left alone in their cottage, with all children having set up their own homes.
Having performed Hajj and marrying off all his sons and daughters, he was looking forward to a blissful, retired life enjoying the coffee on a rocking chair on the balcony amid the chatter of birds every morning and narrating tales of fairies, devils, and the angels to the gaggle of grandkids who gathered around him every evening. But then the things do not remain the same forever. The old man lost his wife within a few years, robbing his cottage of the presence of the ever-smiling woman.
Looking at the solitude that engulfed his ageing father, the elder son persuaded him to move with him. He set aside a special bedroom for him that opened out on a verandah facing the backyard garden. Arriving home from office, he would first head for the father’s room, sit and chat with him for some time and would arrange for his dinner. But this did not continue for long. His wife, known as Bahu Begum to all others, did not like her husband spending time with his father. To begin with, even the thought of hosting her father-in law in her home had never found favour with her. She began to express her discomfiture every time her husband returned home from the office. A host of grievances would welcome the poor husband. One day she declared: “It’s either me or your father. Enough is enough! I can no longer bear this torture of looking after the kids, running the home and also attending upon the old man. Let me have another house where I would stay with my kids. You be at your father’s side.”
Finally a truce was reached. Under the new arrangement, the old man was moved to a solitary room upstairs. Meals would be delivered to him there. Though, he did not like the idea at all, he opted for it as it was better than being moved away from the care of the family altogether.
Now he was rendered totally isolated from the hum of the house. Solitude would often appear stifling him. Children too had been admonished against venturing upstairs.
Now he had no one to share anything with him. He would shed tears at his fate. Even the son would visit him only occasionally, lest his wife curse him. Bahu Begum would send him meals in a plastic plate although the family would use the bone china dinner set for own dining. It was the same set that he had brought them while returning from the pilgrimage. The maid had strict order to serve him the meals in the same plastic plate all the time. “His shaking hands might drop the porcelain plate,” she had been warned. For months together he would lie on the same grumpy bed, with none to replace the bedsheet.
Unable to bear this humiliation, he was counting his last days. He was not living a life, rather he was acting as a living man. Finally, the day arrived when he had to bid farewell to this painful life. He passed away quietly with no one to mourn.
A week after the old man died, Bahu Begum’s husband entered the room with his kids. He had to clean up the room for a new occupant. It was his new car driver who would be moving in. One of the children lifted the plastic plate and began to wipe off the grime. “Throw it away, It’s not fit to be used,” the man shouted at his son.
“No chance, Baba! I would like to have it with me,” the child shouted back.
“But, Beta, what are you going to do of this worn out, filthy plate?”
“I would like to have it with me till you grow old so that I would use it to serve meals to you,” the child howled back.
It came like a thunderbolt. Bahu Begum’s husband was dumbfounded at the little child’s reply. He had a flashback of years of maltreatment and exile his old father had undergone at his hands. He bowed down and kissed his bed. But then beyond this gesture he had nothing to compensate for the sins he had committed against his father.
(Note: The original story in Urdu was picked up from the Internet)




A Tenner and a Two-Rupee
Barber Vishwanath was busy shaping up his customer in his small kiosk underneath the big banyan tree near the village chaupal. Ramu was again at his doorstep with his outstretched palm seeking the usual two-rupee coin.
“I have not seen a boy more stupid than this, just see the fun and decide for yourself, whether I am right,” said Vishwanath in a tone barely audible to anyone other than Vijay, the customer.
Ramu stood there quietly, his eyes beseeching a favour. Vishwanath extended both of his palms with a 10-rupee coin placed on the left and a two-rupee coin on the right. Ramu picked up the one on the right and vanished behind the bamboo grove and landed straight at the corner of the pond where stood the ice cream seller.
“Didn’t I tell you that no one would be more stupid than this boy? I guess such dullards have no scope in this world. They would remain where they are. Unless they grow up wiser, nothing can change their fate. And in case of Ramu, intelligence and wisdom have just bypassed him completely. He doesn’t even know that the Rs. 10 coin can him fetch more than the Rs. 2. It would be better if his parents pressed him into manual labour at a construction sites. No use sending him to school,” Vishwanath kept mumbling all the while.
Music from the scissors had stopped. Vijay dusted off the kurta and emerged from the thick canopy. He peered around. He saw Ramu chomping on an ice cream bar while looking at the ducks in the pond.
“It is countless times that you were asked to choose between a tenner and a two-rupees coin and every time you picked the latter. What’s the matter? Are you so stupid not to know which coin would fetch you more”? Vijay unleashed a volley of queries.
Ramu said: “Uncle! I do it because, I know the day I will pick up the tenner, the game would come to an end”.
Moral: A real stupid individual is one who deals with others imagining them to be fools.