Surah Yusuf (12) - The Best Of Stories 4/15

"Nahnu naqussu 'alayka ahsan al-qasasi bimaaa awhainaaa ilayka haadha al-Qur'an"(12:3) "We do relate unto thee [Muhammad] the most beautiful of stories, in that We reveal to thee this (portion of the) Qur'an".

A'udhu billahi, as-samee', al 'aleem, min al-shaytan al-la'een al-rajim. Bismillah, al-Rahman, al-Rahim. Al-hamdulillahi rabb il-'alameen, wa as-sallal-Lahu 'ala Muhammad wa 'ala ahli baytihi at-tayyibeen at-tahireen. Allahumma salli 'ala Muhammad, wa aali Muhammad.

As we have been mentioning in the previous episodes, this holy month of Ramadan has dawned upon us and before we know it, it shall be leaving us as well. Whenever this holy month comes about, we always begin fasting, some may complain about the difficulties and the pangs of hunger and then before we know it, we get habituated to it before we know it, we begin to enjoy it.

And then very shortly afterwards, the month begins to go away from us, the month of barakah, the month of rahmah, the month of istighfaar. The month in which Allah has invited us to His banquet in which He does not serve us food rather, He makes us refrain from it. Instead, He places on His banquet blessings, He places mercy, and He places forgiveness for you and I to take hold of.

When this holy month begins to move away from us, we shall begin to wish, if only we did that much more within it, if only we spend that much more time contemplating on the Qur'an, that much more time in seeking istighfaar because as soon as the month leaves, the same istighfaar may not be available. The same mercies may not be available. You and I should remember that as this month goes day on day, we should be thanking Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, that He has given us this life. He has given us this ability to be present in this holy month because we are not aware if we shall be alive next year with good health.

I would like to share with you two ahadith regarding the Qur'an, which the Holy Prophet peace be upon him mentions. The first is a very strange hadith that the Prophet says -"Many of the reciter of a Qur'an are being cursed". So people are actually reciting the Qur'an, but the Qur'an is cursing them. How is this possible? How is it possible that this beautiful book of God, the book that God has sent for guidance, we recite it, but for some people, the book begins to curse them? That on the Day of Judgment, the book will have a claim against them, that by them reading this Qur'an, instead of getting closer to God, they might be getting further away from Him.

One such group of people are those people who come to the Qur'an wanting to arrive at the result that they have already made up in their heads, that they already have a conclusion and they are just simply looking for justification in the Qur'an. Another group of people are those who want to come to the Qur'an in order to bring about fasaad, in order to bring about disunity among people, in order to bring about corruption in the land, so they want to pick out certain verses out of it's context and begin to use it.

But a third group of people, which we may fall into, God forbid, are those people who read the Qur'an, understand the command of God and purposefully do not follow it. Those people are individuals who have been given guidance, very clear-cut guidance, for example, to pray the five daily prayers, for example, to fast, to stay away from backbiting, not to accuse one another. These are straightforward principles that the Qur'an gives us. And if we are aware of these principles and purposefully we do not follow them, then the Qur'an has a claim against us. Then we are not getting closer to God by reading this Qur'an, rather by not acting upon it purposefully, we are actually deviating away from the Holy Qur'an that has come as clear guidance and we are rejecting it.

This is what 'kufr' is, in Arabic 'kafara' means to cover something. Here clear guidance has been given to us and we begin to cover it. Hence, the Prophet says there are some people, people from his own Ummah that read the Qur'an but the Qur'an curses them.

A second Hadith that I would like to bring to your attention again from the Holy Prophet. He says, "When you read the Qur'an, the Qur'an prevents you from doing sins." Just like is mentioned in the Qur'an, that those who pray, they stay away from ill and indecency (29:45). In the same way the Prophet says when you recite the Qur'an, it keeps you away from sin and then he continues and he says, "and if you are not being kept away from sin, if you are still sinning, then you are not reading the Qur'an."

Physically, yes, you might be opening the Book and reading it's verses, but you are not doing a complete reading, you are not truly reading this book. You are simply regurgitating, you are simply making sounds with your mouth, you are not truly understanding what is being said to you.

When Allah, Subhana wa ta'ala, talks about justice in the Qur'an, when He says He has made men and women, and people of different communities, of languages in the Qur'an is given examples of (49:13). And if you and I still go out and we are still racists, then clearly we have not understood anything from the Qur'an.

If Allah commands in the Qur'an to the Holy Prophet, stand up in the night, even though it be a little, recite for the sake of God(73:1-4). Do something! Because the night is the time when you and I can journey quicker to Allah, Subhana wa ta'ala, and if we spend the entirety of our nights throughout our years in a slumber sleep, then clearly we have not understood anything from the Qur'an.

When the Qur'an says that lower the wings of humility for your parents (17:24), just like Yusuf does for Ya'qub when he returns back to Egypt. And if you and I are those individuals, when we speak to our parents, we speak in a stern manner, we look at them with a harsh gaze, then we have not understood anything from the Qur'an. Yes, we have read the Qur'an, yes, the words might be memorised in our heads, but honestly, we have not contemplated on its verses and it was only revealed in order to be a guide for you and I, not simply to be recited.

In the previous episode, when we looked at this beautiful chapter and Surah and story of Yusuf, we looked at how Ya'qub was dealing with Yusuf, how he may have been showing him certain love and giving him certain time that he was not giving to the other children, not because he was unjust, but because Yusuf needed that time, needed that love, needed that protection in order to bring his potential to fruition, which was to become a great prophet.

Today, in this episode, I would like to ask a different question, still with regards to upbringing. What are the rights that the child has over us as parents? Because sometimes this is misunderstood by us as parents. Many a time as parents, we think that going out and working hard, going out and bringing in money is what our children need from us. That buying them materialistic things, giving them a new gift every week, giving them something new every time that we see them, giving them everything that they want, every child with a new phone, every child with a new tablet, sometimes we think this is what brings about happiness to the child this is how I am doing good for the child this is what God wants from me, from the child.

In actual fact, if you look at the life of the Prophet it was very different. The one thing the Prophet did with his children and his grandchildren was not give them materialistic things. This was there, but to a certain level. The one thing the Prophet did with his children is spend time with them. That is a thing that a child wants that many a children are deprived of. Even if when you become of age, even when you yourself become a parent, the one thing you want from your parent is to spend time with you. And when somebody loses their parent, one of the first regrets that they have is if only I spent more time with my parents. If only I called them more often, if only I spoke to them more often, if only whenever they were talking and they were repeating themselves over and over again, if only I did not roll my eyes, if only I did not leave the room, if only I stayed with them.

You and I have been given a sign in death, it comes before us, there are no terms and conditions to this, it comes to the young as it comes to the old. You and I have to be wary that our time may come soon, so we must prepare for it. One of the things we must do is use our time correctly, and one of the methods in which we can use our time correctly is with our children.

Look at the relationship Ya'qub had built up with Yusuf such that his children were able to come and speak to him about anything. That a child had a dream, he was able to come and tell his father, he knew the father would not ridicule him, he knew the father was not going to laugh at him. That the brothers of Yusuf even after they committed the atrocious act they did, the person they could come and speak to was their father, even after they had sinned, they could come to their father. Even when Ya'qub comes back and comes to Yusuf in Egypt, look at the communication they have, look at the way they treat one another, look at the speech amongst them through the ahadith that we have.

This is the relationship that you and I need to cultivate. Not that a child should see you and I as parents simply as piggy banks, that they take money from us. Rather, we should be role models for the child that when the child looks at you and I when he looks at his father, he wants to become like his father. When he looks at the mother, he wants to become like the mother.

But our requirement is that our children should never become like us, our children should become better than us. If they become like us, then we have failed. What I have done then is simply give my child what I have, I want to give my child a head start in life so that by the time he is twenty or thirty, he has the experience of a man who is fifty or sixty, so by the time he reaches the age of fifty and sixty, he has surpassed me greatly.

We know that even if we surpass our parents in knowledge, even if we surpass them in information, surpass them in wealth, we will never become greater than them in the eyes of Allah. They will have a station that we can never reach but my desire as a parent must be that I should give my child everything they require to be given a head start in life.

We find in ahadith that there are three requirements of a parent, of a father in particular on a child.

The first is that he must give the child a good name. A good name, a name which has meaning to it. Many times we name our children based on cultural things, based on names that are prominent in our culture and sometimes they do not have a meaning to them. Sometimes the names that we give our child do not have a good meaning to them, let alone a meaning. We must make sure that when we name our child or our children, we give them the best of names. The best of names are the names of the Prophets, of the A'immah, alayhum as-salaam, or other names that have good meanings behind them.

The second duty of a parent, of a father in particular is that he should teach the child the Qur'an, this is not the duty of the madrassa this is not the duty of a Qur'an teacher. It is the duty of the father to sit down, spend time with the child, listen to the child reciting the Qur'an, correct the child in reciting the Qur'an this brings about a bond with the child.

And finally, the third requirement we have is that when the child comes of age, it is the duty of the father to ensure that he facilitates for the marriage of this child.

One of the greatest ills in our society today is the objectification of the opposite gender. And one of the easiest manners in which we can safeguard ourselves and our children from such a vice is to ensure that we have a spouse, that we are married. When a child comes of age, how beautiful it it that he turns around to the parent and says, I am in difficulty, I need help.

This is not a child who is immature. This is a child who is greatly mature, that the child has come back to the parent, the source of assistance and help, has come to this parent because they have kept the lines of communication open and are telling the parent, help me. I only see you as a source of help for me, help me. How do I remove myself from this path, how do I safeguard myself so that I do not fall into this vice? It is only through marriage, and this is a requirement that a parent has, especially the father, to facilitate, not to ridicule the child.

You know, how many a times a child can speak to us, we can ridicule them, we can belittle them? Especially when they are young. We speak to them in a belittling fashion, especially in front of others do you know how much this harms the psyche of the child? That the child's confidence gets taken away, that the person who loves me the most, they do not speak to me nicely.

Look at Ya'qub, take example from Ya'qub, even after he was aware of what the children had done and they come back, he does not belittle them, he does not throw them away, he does not cut them off. He still speaks to them, he leaves the channels open that one day these children might return back to the right path and I shall be there to embrace them.

This is a relationship that you and I should have with our children. We learn it from the Prophet, we learn it from the A'immah, alayhum as-salaam. The Prophet says speak to your children in baby language. Can you imagine the greatest man who walked the earth would go on his fours and have Hassan and Husayn on his back, speak to them in gibberish? Why? So you can build a bond between you and your child.

The one thing we can conclude that Ya'qub definitely did with his children is spend time with them, such that the communication between parent and child was open.

We ask Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, with the blessings of this holy month that he makes the relationship between us and our parents a relationship of friendliness, where we have channels of communication open with them.

We ask Allah, Subhana wa Ta'ala, to teach us and inspire us how to bring up our children such that they remain steadfast on the path of the Ahlul Bayt, but also that we keep this channel of communication open so that when our child needs help, the first person they should turn around to is not their friends because they might be misguided with what information they get from outside but they turn back to us - as our parents; we are able to assist them and facilitate for them to remain steadfast within the boundaries of the Shari'a.

In this month, let us pray for one another, let us pray for our children and let us pray for our own steadfastness on the path of the Ahlul Bayt, alayhum as-salaam.

Wa salla Allahu 'ala Muhammad wa 'alaa ahli baytihi, at-tayyibeen, at-tahireen.