Points of connection for Muslim students
“In my religion, when someone dies we say, ‘Inna li lahi wa inna alaihi rajaun.’ It means, ‘From God we come, and to Him we return.’”
“Sophia gulped. She wasn’t prepared for a question like this." Shoes a real anxiety that a Muslim can have about teaching their religion to other people. Speaking about the religion incorrectly is explicitly forbidden in the Quran (Say (O Muhammad): ‘(But) indeed the things that my Lord has forbidden are al-Fawaahish (lewd, evil sins of every kind) whether committed openly or secretly, al-Ithm (sins of all kinds), ath-Thulm (unrighteous oppression), joining partners (in worship) with Allah for which He has sent down no authority for, and that you speak about Allah that which you have no knowledge of.'” [al-A’raaf: 33]
"Heaven or hell" - Muslims often use the word "heaven" when describing the ambitions that Islam inculcates for arrival in the hereafter because heaven is the word most often used by Christians. However, the Arabic word jennah, is more accurately translated to paradise, and jennah or paradise is how Islam and Muslims conceptualize the beneficial resting place in the hereafter. The Arabic word that is translated into heaven most often is samawat (heavens) which means skies that are above the earth, so literally the blue sky above us and the celestial skies of outer space that we see above us. The heavens (samawat) in Islam exist as signs I God's greatness and benevolence that are visible to man in his earthly life, whereas jennah is the abode in the next life that the Muslim strives to attain.
"When small children die…" - what Sophia says here about the belief that when Children die they do not have to answer for their sins is correct, and this is the belief in Islam concerning Muslim children and non-Muslim children.
"When Prophet Moses, upon him be peace" - it is part of the etiquette of Islamic speech that whenever a Prophet's names is mentioned peace is wished upon them. Now, this is bringing about a pretty cool part in this book. Sophia is about to tell Abbey a Qur'anic story about Moses. This story is told in the 18th chapter of the Qur'an which is entitled Surat al-khaf (the chapter of the cave). There is a very good chance the Muslim students know this story and have a familiarity with it. It is part of Islamic practice for a Muslim to read this chapter from the Qur'an every Friday before the Friday congregation (jummah). So it is a famous story from the Qur'an and is a story that encapsulates an important essence of the Islamic belief of qadr (predestination, or Providence) in that it illustrates the "God works in mysterious ways" concept or the concept that what we know of the occurrences in our lives is but small knowledge in the grand scheme of what God has written for us. Another key lesson of the story is that if man's propensity towards impatience. Moses, greatest amongst men as one of God's great Prophets as he is, still wants to know from the wise man (whose name is khidr - which means green - and also, the wise man is not a man in the sense of being a earthly creature, he is a mystical being sent by God to take Moses on this journey as part of his training for his Prophetic mission) immediately the reasons for what he does, despite that he agreed not to.
So it is part of Islamic practice and the sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad to read this story and the chapter belongs to once a week; this works as a constant reminder to Muslims of God's omniscience and power, and that there is wisdom to his all-encompassing decree even when it entails what is perceptibly "good things happening to bad people" or "bad things happening to good people"
Moses BTW is called Musa in Arabic and this is rendered as Muse often times in Somali families.
"He is the Best of Planners" - This is a phrase and reminder about God that Muslims give to one another frequently. It is a phrase taken directly from the Qur'an (3:54 & 8:30). I have found Christians frequently say to one another "God has a plan" but Muslims will say "Allahu khayr ul-mākireen" meaning "Allah is the best of Planners"
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