43. Illuminated Quran: The Adornment 

This surah cautions us against being distracted by material things.  One of the examples given is from the story of Musa (a).  The Pharaoh asked why Musa (a) does not have gold bracelets or a procession of angels.

Discussion question:  why did Pharaoh think Musa (a) should have gold bracelets?  Did the agngels help Musa (a)?  Could the Pharaoh see the angels that helped Musa (a)?  When we can’t see something does that mean it isn’t there?

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

Musa: A Path through Water

Tonight we read about the parting of the Red Sea.  My son said he wishes he had Musa’s (a)  staff to make the ocean open. I said yes it would be very exciting to have Musa’s (a) staff.

When the waters fell and destroyed the army of the Pharaoh my son said he was glad he was not Pharaoh because the water fell on him.

We learned that the body of the Pharaoh was thrown up on the shore to prove he had died and his body may now be a mummy in a museum.  

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

42. Illuminated Quran: The Counsel

This surah asks that we come to reasonable agreements among ourselves through consultation.

Discussion question:  how are we supposed to accomplish things and solve problems?

This surah reminds us that Allah (s) holds the keys of the heavens and the earth and gives sustenance to whom he wills.

Discussion question:  whom do we ask for blessings on earth and for the herafter?  Who decides what blessings we receive?

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

Musa: Exodus

Today we learned about the ninth sign from Allah (s) to the Egyptian people.  The angel Azrail (a) took the first born child from the homes of the unbelivers in the night.  My son wanted to know why the angel took these children and I told him is was to show the Egyptians the power of the one true God.  After the angel departed the believers left the city quietly.  

In the morning the sun was blood red and the Egyptians began to burry their dead.  My son wanted to know why the sun was red.  I told him I didn’t know but maybe it was to signify the blood of the dead.  When they saw that the believers had escaped the Pharoah led an army to follow them.    

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

41. Illuminated Quran: Revelations

This surah speaks about Allah (s) being hidden from our understanding by a screen or hidden from ourselves by a lack of faith or understanding.  This is the excuse of some people who do not believe.  In Islam we do not have representational art that depicts God.  There is even a great deal of controversy surrounding the depiction of the Prophet Muhammad (s) although he is frequently shown in a respectful manner in Persian miniatures.  This surah gives us the opportunity to speak to children about abstraction in Islamic Art as a way of describing the beauty of the unknowable God.  In this series we have approached the illumination of Quran with as much representation as is possible and respectful.  In this image we attempt to show that the screen of beautifully carved plasterwork veils us from seeing God, which would be dangerous for a human to behold but suggests the beauty of God like a light in a lamp with a shade.  This more abstract concept of sacred things is important and part of Islamic history and art just as some forms or representational art are as well.  Abstraction is a more complicated concept and better suited to the mind of a young adult who has already learned the content and meaning of Quran and can look for higher and more abstract meanings within the text with the help of legitimate Tafseer from a knower.  I hope that we can attempt to put together a Tafseer for young adults that brings a deeper understanding than this elementary project at another time.

Discussion question:  Is there is a screen between us and Allah (s)?  Is Allah (s) closer to us than our own jugular vein?  Is separation between us and Allah (s) an illusion?  Are there people who are veiled from belief in Allah (s)?

In the story of Musa (a) he asks to see Allah (s) and nearly dies from seeing the veiled light of Allah (s).  If you would like to read this story to your child to have a better understanding of this subject in Islam there is a chapter concerning him in My Little Lore of Light by Hajjah Amina Adil.

Discussion question:  what happened when Musa (a) asked to see Allah (s)?  Why does some Islamic Art sometimes avoid images of people and animals?  Why does other Islamic Art show images of Prophets etc.?  What do you think about showing sacred things in art?  Do you think there is a respectful way to show people and animals in art?  Do you think that a mosque is a place where abstract art is more appropriate? Why?

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


One of the important traditions in Islamic society is sadaqa or charity distribution to those in need.  Giving removes burdens, sickness and prevents or diminishes accidents or other misfortunes in Islamic belief.

We are teaching our children this tradition by giving them coins each day to distribute.  When they give they ask the person receiving to pray for them, particularly if they are ill.  

Before we lived in a Muslim country I would have my son collect sadaqa in a jar so we could distribute the money on the weekends when we saw people in need on the main avenue but here we see people nearly every day as the boys walk to school.  

Please share your ideas for teaching children about sadaqa and the other traditions in Islam.  

Musa: Maqam

Tonight we learned that the believers prepared for the final plague by sacrificing sheep and smearing the lintel of their house with the blood.  In this way the angel Azrail (a) would pass over the house and not take the firstborn child.  

My son wanted to know why this blood protected the house.  I said that I wasn’t sure but I thought that sacrificing in the name of Allah (a) and obeying his prophet protected the house.

We also learned of an old Egyptian lady that led Musa (a) to the tomb of Prophet Yusef (a).  His sarcophagus was raised so Yusef (a) could accompany the believers out of Egypt.  

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

40. Illuminated Quran: The Believer 

This surah speaks about a believer from the family of the Pharaoh who said it was wrong to kill Musa (a) because of what he believed.

Discussion question:  if it is wrong to kill a believer in the one God is it also wrong to kill people who believe differently than us?

If you would like to read the story this believer in the family of the Pharoah there is a chapter concerning him (29. Towering Arrogance)  in The Life of Moses by Karima Sperling.

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

Musa: The Arrow

Tonight we learned that the Pharoah had a tower built so that he could shoot and arrow into the sky to kill the God of Musa (a).  The arrow came down tipped with blood and so the Pharaoh thought he was successful.  

My son wanted to know how the arrow got blood on it and I said I didn’t know.  My son said he didn’t how the arrow got blood on it.  My husband said the Angels put it there and my son said that he did not understand why Allah (s) would want the Pharaoh to believe he succeeded.  This did not make sense to me either but maybe Allah (s) did want Pharaoh to fall further into self deception.  

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

39. Illuminated Quran: The Crowds

This surah mentions the crowds of people that will come to the gates of hell.  It says that these people are unbelievers.  They will be asked if Prophets were sent to them and they will answer yes.

Discussion question:  why does Allah (s) warn us about the fate of the unbelievers?  What does it mean to be an unbeliever?  Can we pray for unbelievers to see the truth?  Were different Prophets sent to different people all over the earth?  If certain people are veiled from accepting Allah (s) and his Prophets then why would they be taken to hell?  What do you think will happen to believers who were hard on unbelievers and other believers and drove them away from religion?

Then other crowds will be taken to the gardens of paradise because they feared Allah (s).

Discussion question:  what is the reward of the believers?  Do we hope that everyone realizes and comes with us there?

Image: this is supposed to be the gate of hell with smoke coming out.

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