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What A Conviction Did The Boy Have!

(From the story of the boy and the king

- Writer: Umar Shariff
President, Discover Islam Education Trust, Bangalore
*Paper submitted for the one day seminar conducted by the Preston International College and the Tamilnadu Open University, 2018.

The story of the boy and the king, that is widely understood based on the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the one that carries many lessons in it. One of the things that will be stressed in this work will be about the process of inculcating such true spirit of faith amongst the children in today's times.

The story of the boy and the king goes like this: There was a king in the past who considered himself to be God, and he asked his people to worship only him. He had a sorcerer who worked for him. One day the sorcerer met the king and complained about he getting old, and expressed his desire to teach sorcery to someone before he died. Hence the king sent a boy from his kingdom to learn the art of sorcery from the sorcerer. The boy however, while going to learn from the sorcerer, used to halt at a place of a monk, and learn the aspect of religion and faith. The monk taught the boy the belief in monotheism and the importance of worshiping only Allah - the Creator and the Sustainer of the universe. The boy used to even get beaten by the sorcerer for not coming to classes on time. The boy heard to the teachings of both the monk and the sorcerer, but was convinced with what the monk taught him.

One day it so happened that the people of the boy's town were blocked due to a monster that appeared before them. When all the people were terrified and worried, the young boy with faith picked up a stone and made a supplication by saying, "O Allah, if the monk is dearer to you than the sorcerer, then bring about death to the monster, so that the people be able to move about freely", and threw the stone at the monster. The stone hit the monster, and it died immediately. Looking at this event, the people who witnessed it understood that the boy had some special powers.

It so happened that the people used to come to him for help. He treated the blind and the patients with vitiligo (leucoderma), by supplicating to Allah; and they got cured by the permission of Allah. He once treated one of the blind courtiers of the king even. And while he treated, he always said that it is Allah alone Who cured them, while he only claimed that he supplicated to Allah for help.

One day when the king saw his blind courtier with good eyesight, he asked him at once as to who cured him. The courtier said that Allah cured him. The angered king said, "Do you have another God other than me?" He tortured the courtier so badly, until he revealed the whereabouts of the boy who taught him theology. The boy was brought before the king, and was tortured until he revealed about the monk who taught him about Allah. The monk was brought before the king and was tortured. He was asked to renounce the religion and worship the king. But he declined it. So a saw was brought and placed over the monk's head, until he was cut into two halves and killed. The same followed with the courtier even when he declined to renounce his religion. The boy too rejected to renounce his religion. The king then asked his courtiers to take the boy over a mountain and ask him to renounce the religion. If he didn't obey, then he was asked to be thrown down from the mountain. The boy was taken to the mountain top and was asked to give up his religion. But the boy supplicated to Allah by saying, "O Allah, help me however you like to help me". The mountain shook, the courtiers fell down, and the boy went walking before the king. The king was stunned to see the boy return to him and asked him about his courtiers. The boy said that Allah saved him from them.

The king ordered his other courtiers to take the boy to the mid of the sea on a boat, and ask him to renounce his faith. And if he didn't comply, then they were commanded to throw him into the sea. The courtiers took him likewise, but the boy supplicated to Allah to help him, and the boat turned upside down, until when all the courtiers got drowned, and the boy again walked unto the king.

This time the king was shocked to see him again walk to him courageously. The boy said that Allah has saved him from the courtiers, and that the king cannot kill him unless he does what he asks him to do. The king enquired him. The boy said, "gather the people of your kingdom, and tie me over a trunk of a tree, and then take an arrow from my quiver and say, 'In the name of Allah, the Lord of the boy' and shoot me. You'll then be able to kill me".

The king did as instructed, and shot the boy with the arrow. As the arrow hit the boy's temple, he held his temple, while he profusely bled and fell down dead. And something unexpected happened there. The people who witnessed this said, "We believe in the Lord of the boy". The king was enraged to see this and asked his men to dig up trenches with fire lit into them. The people were asked to renounce their religion, or else were ordered to jump into the trenches. The people chose to die rather than to renounce their religion. A woman with a baby was worried about dying with a baby, until when the baby said that the lady was on the straight path, and asked her to bear the ordeal with patience. Both the mother and the baby too jumped into the fire.

Lessons From The Story:
This is the story mentioned in the hadeeth of the Prophet (peace be upon him) (1), that is narrated in short by me. Now let's try to understand the lessons from the story, and the impacts of raising righteous children like the boy in the story.

First Lesson:
A teacher can inspire the student to choose a path.

In this story, the boy was actually supposed to sit with the sorcerer to learn sorcery. But while he was on his way to his classes, he bumped into a learned monk who inspired him to learn about Allah. The boy must have seen some special qualities and oratory skills that made him sit with the monk for lengthy hours. This is something that the teachers have to pay attention to. In the world where children get attracted to toys and amusements, what must have actually attracted the young boy to an elderly man? Generally young lads in today's times don't spend much time with those of the senior generations. But if the boy willingly spent time with the monk, then the monk must have carried the charisma with him. A teacher must be able to engage in discussions with the young children, in a manner that the children love to spend more time with him or her. In the case of the boy of the story, he used to even get late to his sorcery classes due to fact that he was spending much time with the monk, which even led the boy get beatings from the sorcerer.

So the monk's preaching won the heart of the boy. Allah says in the Qur'an to be gracious and beautiful in preaching.

ادْعُ إِلَىٰ سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ بِالْحِكْمَةِ وَالْمَوْعِظَةِ الْحَسَنَةِ ۖ وَجَادِلْهُم بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ ۚ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ هُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِمَن ضَلَّ عَن سَبِيلِهِ ۖ وَهُوَ أَعْلَمُ بِالْمُهْتَدِينَ

Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance. (2)

Second Lesson:
Even children can understand Tauheed - Monotheism.

Many people in today's times don't spend time with the school going children, to teach them the greater aspects of monotheism and religion. Many a times they simply conclude by saying that they are too young to understand complex concepts. But in reality, Islam is very simple to understand. Monotheism is something that human beings are naturally programmed to understand it without any difficulty.

In the past I've even heard to some Hindu scholars saying that they themselves know that there's one God, and that the idols are not God. Yet they teach the young children to worship the idols, since they believe that the children need some object to bring faith. Hence they claim that at the initial stages they want to engage the beginners with the idols, and they also claim that these idols are not needed as they get advanced in spirituality. Although this argument seems like an excuse to worship idols, lets analyse the argument.

In the masjids and madrasas, the Muslim children do pray their namaaz - Salaah, the five daily prayers without any idol to concentrate over it. They rather concentrate over what is being recited during their prayers. They contemplate over the aayaath (verses) of the Qur'an, in order to reflect over the deep meanings in them. So, it's just a preconceived notion that is not allowing most people teach monotheism to the children.

‎شَهِدَ اللَّهُ أَنَّهُ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ وَالْمَلَائِكَةُ وَأُولُو الْعِلْمِ قَائِمًا بِالْقِسْطِ ۚ لَا إِلَٰهَ إِلَّا هُوَ الْعَزِيزُ الْحَكِيمُ

There is no god but He: That is the witness of Allah, His angels, and those endued with knowledge, standing firm on justice. There is no god but He, the Exalted in Power, the Wise. (3)

Third Lesson:
Make Dua' in the private and in public places with sheer conviction.

The boy became popular amongst the people when he killed the monster. But to kill the monster he first made supplication to Allah directly. He didn't choose to find a mediator to reach to Allah. He directly pleaded to Allah for help. And the first One he remembered for help was Allah. This is the beauty of Tauheed - Monotheism. One of the aspects of sound belief is to have the highest hope with Allah. The hope must be unwavering one; the hope that is ever strong and sturdy. A person who has lost hopes with Allah cannot have faith in the real sense. The trait that is clearly visible in the boy's life is that he had hope in Allah. At a time when he was taken up to the mountain and in the midst of the sea to renounce the religion, he simply prayed to Allah for help, in a way that is quite interesting. He said, "O Allah help me in a way that you want to". He wasn't keen on asking Allah to help him in a particular way; rather he asked Allah to choose the way to help him through His divine wisdom. And that's a great wisdom that the boy had.

‎وَإِذَا سَأَلَكَ عِبَادِي عَنِّي فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ ۖ أُجِيبُ دَعْوَةَ الدَّاعِ إِذَا دَعَانِ ۖ فَلْيَسْتَجِيبُوا لِي وَلْيُؤْمِنُوا بِي لَعَلَّهُمْ يَرْشُدُونَ

When My servants ask thee concerning Me, I am indeed close (to them): I listen to the prayer of every suppliant when he calleth on Me: Let them also, with a will, Listen to My call, and believe in Me: That they may walk in the right way. (4)

Fourth Lesson:
The true Daa'ee works to call people to the Deen (religion) of Allah, even while he is dying.

This is a phenomenal feat that is witnessed in this story. The plan that the boy made was simply outsmarting the king who considered himself to be God. The king was calling people to worship him, while the boy was calling people to worship Allah. However, the boy was successful in his mission, to the effect that the people who witnessed him die were filled with Eemaan - Faith, even to the extent of sacrificing their very lives. Men, women and children chose to die in the burning trenches, rather than renouncing the true religion. This is the master stroke that the boy displayed by his words and deeds. It's simply an outstanding performance; the one of valour and courage. And that spirit of propagating the Deen (religion) of Allah is something that needs to be inculcated in the hearts of the believers.

قُلْ إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

Say: "Truly, my prayer and my service of sacrifice, my life and my death, are (all) for Allah, the Cherisher of the Worlds. (5)

The Impacts Of Raising Such Children: The story has many more lessons for us to draw benefits from. But now let's focus on the impacts of raising such children.

The children with such conviction can change the entire contemptuous scenario, Beiznillah - by the permission of Allah. When a nation starts to believe in the power of Allah, then their success is promised for sure.

Today the children have great opportunity to make a huge impact across the nations. They get to study in schools, colleges and other study centres. They also meet many people across the cities - the shopkeepers, the bus drivers, the passengers and so on. If our children establish strong relationship with Allah, then the honour is due upon them. It's from the way of Allah that He honours those who rely on Him. He loves those who believe Him. Under such a scenario there will be a wave of progress in the next generation that is blossoming under the times of turbulence. It's the positive minds that can bring about the much needed results that are earnestly desired by the ummah that is enfeebled.

Process of Achieving the Goals:
Now we shall finally discuss about the ways to achieve this goal. How should we raise children in order to find them establish such strong relationship with Allah? Here below are some broad sketches to understand the process:

1. Make dua to find success in your endeavour. Ask Allah to give you the strength to deal with the children, in a manner that you'll be able to find a place in their hearts.

2. Teach Eemaan before teaching the Qur'an. The Sahaabaa (companions of the Prophet) learnt Eemaan first, and then learnt the Qur'an (6). That had a profound impact on the people then. Today, even in the Islamic schools, most of the teachers and parents are much interested in seeing their wards memorise lot of Qur'an and the texts. But very few focus on the akhlaaq - character of the children. And akhlaaq is the direct outcome of sound Eemaan.

3. The teachers and parents must not judge the students by the marks and ranks that they get. Rather we must look at all the students with equal manner. A child that is brilliant in studies must not be favoured; nor the child that is a slow learner must be punished. The job of the teacher is to appreciate the goodness in a person, and encourage and motivate the slow learners catch up with the pace. Always praise Allah before them, when you see any good in them. And remind them of the blessings that is bestowed on them, while also cautioning them of the matters that might bring them to a lower standard.

4. Talk to the children with respect and humbleness. A bossing and bullying teacher will lose his image before the children. It is important that the children love their teacher. In the process of correcting the children, a teacher must not be harsh or rude towards them. Inappropriate corrective measures might give temporary benefit; but may leave a permanent damage. The child might give up certain habits out of coercion, but may not have respect and reverence towards the rugged teacher; and that may also hamper their progress ahead. The Prophet (peace be upon him) used pleasing ways to correct people. Anas Bin Malik (may Allah be pleased with him), the young boy who served the Prophet (peace be upon him) said that the Prophet (peace be upon him) never scolded him even when he forgot doing something that was commanded by him. In the case of this boy in the story, he was beaten by the sorcerer. And that could have been a reason to put him off. Today, even in schools we find the teachers using canes to teach Qur'an to the children. The child might memorise the Qur'an out of fear; but not out of love. And such a learning may not benefit the one learning. Hence the correct pedagogical approaches have to be adopted all the time by the teaching faculty.

5. Let the children contribute things in their own way. The creativity of the children are often hampered by the conventional schooling system. That's because the children are not encouraged to innovate and create things; rather asked to only learn that which is kept before their tables. In the case of the boy in the story, he creatively made that wonderful dua', and also creatively planned to teach Eemaan to the people. And that's a great trait of successful people. One must not lose his or her identity in the process of getting educated. The best form of an individual is that which is unique; his true form. It's only when he tries to imitate others to be accepted by the society, he loses his own identity. And that's another challenge that needs to be conquered in the schools these days. Most of our children lose confidence in themselves, because they are often striving to be like others; due to which their true strength is kept dormant.

These were some of the lessons, impacts and the process to achieve goals that can be derived from a wonderful and captivating story. I pray to Allah that He blesses our ummah with people who can stand true to their faith and the convictions of their hearts. And may Allah make us all successful in this world and the hereafter. Aameen.

(1) Saheeh Muslim & Musnad Ahmed
(2) (Qur'an 16:125)
(3) (Qur'an 3:18)
(4) (Qur'an 2:186)
(5) (Qur'an 6:162)
(6) Jundub Ibn Abdullah al-Bajaly said, "We learned Eeman (faith) and then we learned the Qur'an and it increased our Eeman."