Monday, September 20, 2010

The Young Die Good

In the Name of Allah, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful

8.1 million.

According to recent estimates by the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (IGME), that’s how many children under age 5 died in 2009…8.1 million…more than 22,000 children a day.

So much innocence lost….

You see, one of the beautiful things about kids, is their innocence. When we see them, we naturally gravitate towards them because we see something we like. The human soul is naturally inclined towards good; it’s part of our fitrah. It’s how we were created.

We like it when a toddler asks you a question but can’t pronounce the words properly.

We like it when that 7 year old girl flashes a beautiful smile.

We like it when little kids are running around all over the place.

We like these things…and in my opinion, one of the reasons why: their complete innocence.

What actually made me think about all this was a recent reflection on the story of Moses (peace be upon him) and Khidr found in Surat al-Kahf in the Qur’an. In this Qur’anic account, Moses (peace be upon him) meets Khidr (who is regarded as either a prophet or a pious person in the Islamic tradition) so as to learn some knowledge that Khidr had been taught. Khidr agrees, and tells Moses (peace be upon him) to not ask him any questions, until he (Khidr) speaks to him (Moses, peace be upon him) about it.

So there end up being 3 particular incidents that the Qur’an makes mention of. At each one, Moses (peace be upon him) is aghast at the seemingly evil things that Khidr is doing, and when he speaks out against it, Khidr reminds him that he (Moses, peace be upon him) is not supposed to ask questions. At the end of the third incident, Khidr finally explains to Moses (peace be upon him) what’s going on, and the wisdom behind his actions.

But of these three incidents, it is the second one mentioned that is of prime importance here.

Essentially, Khidr murders a young man:

“Then they proceeded: until, when they met a young man, he slew him. Moses said: ‘Hast thou slain an innocent person who had slain none? Truly a foul (unheard-of) thing hast thou done!’ He answered: ‘Did I not tell thee that thou canst have no patience with me?’” (18:74-75)

Later on, Khidr explains his actions here:

"As for the youth his parents were people of Faith, and we feared that he would grieve them by obstinate rebellion and ingratitude (to Allah and man).”So we desired that their Lord would give them in exchange (a son) better in purity (of conduct) and closer in affection.” (18:80-81)

A few important points I want to make here:

1) Notice Moses’ (peace be upon him) response; it emphasizes the innocence of the young boy

2) As for Khidr’s explanation, it shows some of the knowledge that he had been given by The Creator

3) And lastly, the most important point – In a lecture I recently listened to, a prominent shaykh points out how Khidr’s actions actually helped out the young man himself

But how?...

You see, in the Islamic tradition, young children, before they reach puberty, are not accountable for their deeds. They’re forgiven. In other words, they’re innocent…and as for those young souls who depart from this world before they reach that point:

Ibn Katheer (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: With regard to the children of the believers, there is no dispute among the scholars. Al-Qaadi Abu Ya’laa ibn al-Farraa’ al-Hanbali narrated that Imaam Ahmad said: there is no dispute concerning the fact that they will be among the people of Paradise. This is what is well known among people (i.e., the majority of scholars) and this is what we are definitely sure about, in sha Allaah. (Tafseer al-Qur’aan al-‘Azeem, 3/33).

Imaam Ahmad (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: who has any doubts that the children of the Muslims will be in Paradise?!

Imaam al-Nawawi said: the reliable Muslim scholars agreed that any Muslim child who dies will be among the people of Paradise, because he was not responsible (i.e., had not yet reached the age of account). (Sharh Muslim, 16/207).

So the point being made was that Khidr’s actions were not only a mercy to the parents, but to the boy himself…He was saved from a troubled future…Subhan’Allah (Glory be to Allah).

Now in all fairness, there is a difference of opinions for children born into families of other faiths, although this apparently seems to be the majority view:

That they will be in Paradise. Some of them said, they will be in al-A’raaf [a place between Paradise and Hell]. And the reason why it was said that they will be in Paradise is because this is the ultimate destiny of the people of al-A’raaf. This is the view of the majority of scholars, as reported from them by Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr in al-Tamheed, 18/96.

(Please see for more info on this topic, including the differences of opinion on this latter subject matter…and The All-Knowing knows best)

But the point of this post is not to get into a theological debate, which I am quite frankly, unqualified to get into. Instead, I just wanted to write something that, Insha’Allah (God-willing) helps us out a bit when we see these images on t.v., or read about these stories in the newspapers…about these young kids dying because of war, or violence, or disease, or poverty, or famine, or drought, or even before birth…whatever the case may be…just something that helps us get through the day…something that reminds us not only of the infinite Mercy of The Creator, but of His infinite Justice as well…just something that helps us out a bit when we feel overwhelmed by the loss of so many innocent babies…just something when these things make us weep…just something so we remember why children are so precious…just something to help us think about the infinitely expansive beauty and majesty of our Creator…just a little something to reflect on…just a little something, Insha’Allah.

Peace be unto you all.

Any goodness in this post is solely from Ar-Rahman (The Most Gracious), Ar-Raheem (The Most Merciful), and you should be thankful to Him for all of that. Any shortcoming in this post is solely from myself, and I ask Al-`Adl (The Utterly Just) and the people to forgive me for that. Ameen.

This post is dedicated to all those young kids who died innocent in all the occupations and wars…all those child victims of crime and violence…all those little ones who passed because of disease and starvation...all those young ones who never got to see their dreams…all the fallen kids…the dead babies...the little girl who will be questioned for what sin she was buried alive…all those young souls…

The young die Good.

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