26. Illuminated Quran: The Poets

There are two stories from this surah that are interesting to review with children.  The first is the story of Musa (a)  and his staff.  In part of his story the staff turns into a serpent when his power is demonstrated to the Pharaoh and the magicians.

Discussion question:  why did the staff of Musa (a) turn into a serpent?

In the next part of the story the same staff is used to part the Red Sea when the believers escape from Egypt.

Discussion question: why is the staff of Musa (a) invested with these powers?  Where did the staff of Musa (a) come from?

If you would like to read the story of Musa (a) to your children there is a chapter concerning him in: My Little Lore of Light.

The second story mentioned in this surah is the story of Salih (a) who brought the miracle of the she camel who came out the boulder.

The people of Salih (a) in this surah are referred to as the people who carve houses out of mountains which possibly refers to the Nabateans of Petra. In this context the story is part of a series where many civilizations rejected the message of various prophets.

Discussion question:  what can we learn about history by reading the Quran?  What can we learn about history from looking at ruins and archaeological evidence?

I am planning to play a short video about the Nabateans at Petra.

If you would like to read the story of Salih (a) to your children there is a chapter concerning him in: My Little Lore of Light.

Image:  for this surah I chose to do a sketch of an artifact of a staff with serpents on its head as an illustration of the staff of Musa (a) that turned into a serpent.  This staff is in no way intended to be an accurate representation – only an artistic interpretation.

Please share your ideas for teaching children about the Tafseer of Quran.

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Musa: Dreams 

Today we learned that the Pharaoh Walid had a dream about a fire coming from Sham to his gates in Egypt. He was advised that this dream meant that he should declare himself a god and when he did the Believers would not follow him.  For this they were made slaves and very badly treated.  

  
My son asked why the Pharaoh was mean to them and I said it was because they would not believe he was a god.  He said that if he were Pharaoh he would not have done that.  

Please share your ideas for teaching children about the lives of the Prophets.  

25. Illuminated Quran:  The Criterion

This surah speaks about the contrast between right and wrong.

Discussion question: how do you know right from wrong? Can you give an example of right and wrong?

The surah also speaks about the contrast between night and day and the shadows.  It says that the night is like a robe and the day is like a resurrection.

Discussion question:  do we experience night and day for a reason?  What do light and dark mean?  If there is a shadow what does that mean?


Image:  for this surah I chose a simple water color wash graduating from light to dark.

Please share your ideas for teaching children about the Tafseer of Quran.

Musa: The Fruit

Today we learned about a Pharaoh that came after Yusef (a).  This Pharaoh had a dream that the Believers were becoming too numerous like fruit growing on a tree and he began to oppress them.  My son wanted to know why the Pharaoh had that dream.  I told him I wasn’t sure but what would he think if he were Paroah and had such a dream.  My son said that if he had this dream that he would wish to be among the people on the tree.  

The tree described reminded me of a tree in heaven where each souls has a leaf, here depicted as a tree of butterflies like souls.  

  

Please share your ideas for teaching children about the lives of the Prophets.  

24. Illuminated Quran: The Light

In this surah it says that every animal is created from water and that they crawl on their bellies or walk with two legs or four.

Discussion question:  why is water important for living things?  Can you think of an animal that crawls? One that walks on 2 legs? One that walks on 4 legs?

There is a point of adab regarding children in this surah worth discussing with children.  The children must knock or ask permission before entering on three occasions: before Fajr, at the noon prayer and after Isha prayer.  It says that this has to do with children who have come of age or children that have reached puberty.

Discussion question:  what does privacy mean?  Why do we knock before opening a door?

Image:  I used this door design to illustrate the recommendations that children knock before entering a room at certain times to respect the privacy of their parents.

Please share your ideas for teaching children about the Tafseer of Quran.

Musa: The Rooster

Tonight we learned about the white rooster of the throne that announces each prayer in heaven.  The roosters on earth who follow this white rooster stopped crowing after Yusef (a) passed away.  My son wanted to know why the roosters stopped crowing and I told him that I thought it had something to do with the believers in Egypt going astray.


We also leaned that Yusef (a) was thought to be buried in a marble sarchophagus and put into the Nile bed.  My son wanted to know why he was put in the marble sarchophagus.  I explained a little bit about the importance of burial in Egytian history and that it might have something to do with that.  Children often have the ability to articulate questions that we do not know the answers to.  In these instances I either pose possible answers or ask him to make his own guess based on what we do know.  For me the most important thing is for children to learn how to reason and think carefully and to do that they need practice.  These stories provide many opportunities to do so.

Please share your ideas for teaching children about the lives of the prophets.

23. Illuminated Quran: The Believers 

This surah speaks about the Prophet Nuh (a) and the construction of the ark reminding us of the difference between the fate of those that believe and the fate of those who do not.  If you would like to read the story of Nuh (a) to your children there is a chapter concerning him in My Little Lore of Light.

Discussion question:  in the story of Nuh (a) what happens to the believers?  Is the earth like an ark that carries life around the solar system?

The 7 tracts or the 7 orbits in the sky are mentioned here in the context of the creation of biological life and the day of judgement.  Biological life can thrive under specific conditions where temperature, water, and solar energy can be harnessed.  Understanding the placement of the earth in an ideal space for these conditions in relation to the other planets can help children to understand the miracle of biological life on earth and the fragility of its existence. I am thinking to find some videos about the climates on Mars and Venus for this lesson.

Discussion question:  where is the earth in the solar system?  Do we find life on other planets?  What would make it hard to live on Mars or Venus?

Image:  I attempted to represent an illustration of the solar system as it was understood in the ancient world.

Please share your ideas for teaching children about the Tafseer of Quran.

Musa: Yusef 

Today we reviewed the story of the prophet sent to Egypt before Musa (a), the Prophet Yusef (a).

We learned that Yusef (a)  was the beloved son of his father Yaqub (a) and because of this love his brothers became jealous and threw him into a well.
 

The travellers that took him out of the well sold him as a slave in Egypt.  My son said that if he were thrown into a well he would ask Allah (s) to save him.  I said that would be a very good idea.

We also learned that the Pharaoh became a believer in the one God when he came to know Yusef (a) but that the Pharaoh who came after him did not.  

Please share your ideas for teaching children about the lives of the prophets.  

22. Illuminated Quran: The Hajj

This surah mentions that while we do not worship idols at the Kaaba we do circumambulate or go around the Kaaba on the pilgrimage.

Discussion question:  why do we go around the Kaaba on the Hajj pilgrimage?

This surah mentions that idols and false gods cannot even create a fly.

Discussion question:  if false gods cannot even create a fly why do some people believe in them?


Image: for this surah I chose a simplified image of a fly in no particular style.
Please share your ideas for teaching childrens about the Tafseer of Quran.

Musa: The Two Prophets

The first chapter of The Story of Moses concerns the importance of this story and some comparisons between Prophet Musa (a) and the Prophet Muhammad (s).

We learned that the books sent to the prophets are like a map and the prophets and saints are our guides for the map.  We finished our Silsila project yesterday concerning the saints and the location of each Maqam on a large world map.  We feel that it is an excellent transition to begin this project to learn more about this way and the guides sent by Allah (s).

We learned that there are many similarities between Musa (a) and Muhammad (s).  Both were given books, both were given laws, both were oppressed by the people they were sent to guide and both were given the very difficult task of leaving their home to make a new life for themselves and their followers. 

For this project I have decided to show my son some films about the life of Prophet Musa (a) so that he can have a sense of the overall story.  

  
Image: this image is meant to suggest the tree of prophets to emphasize the relationship between Musa (a) and the other prophets sent to earth.  

Please share you ideas for teaching children about the lives of the prophets.