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What Would A Muslim Do As NFL Commissioner?

In the fortnight of wall-to-wall media hype dedicated to Super Bowl XLIX, no storyline has gone unturned. From Bill Belichick’s deflated footballs to Tom Brady’s nasal congestion to Marshawn Lynch’s camera shyness, every angle been covered ad nauseam. There are even stories about how it’s not a story that Russell Wilson is starting in the Super Bowl as a Black quarterback.

And occasionally, in the midst of the all the hype, we’ve managed to talk a little bit about who is actually going to win Sunday’s championship game between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks.

Ordinarily, this time of year would be a time of celebration for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. This is when the league that the 55-year-old Goodell oversees stands alone as the shining centerpiece of the sports world, crowns its new champion, and dominates one more Sunday on the calendar before taking a few months off to sit back, count the profits and get ready to do it all over again.

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But thanks in part to one team’s alleged cheating and another team’s tense relationship with the media, the past two weeks for Goodell have been no different than the previous six months: The commissioner is still facing an unrelenting deluge of criticism and second-guessing, his integrity and competency being questioned every day as what was once a dictator-like power grip on the NFL appears to be weakening.

The 2014 season was not a good one for Roger Goodell. His league generated negative press related to domestic violence and sexual assault cases, drug and alcohol abuse, brain injuries and long-term health problems, controversial officiating on the field, controversial conduct off the field, and the inexplicable existence of an NFL-approved racially insensitive nickname for the league’s Washington D.C. franchise.

And that’s not counting the NFL’s quick escape from a potential religious discrimination scandal, which began when Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Husain Abdullah was flagged for an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty after performing the Islamic prostration known as sajdah during a “Monday Night Football” game in late September. The league responded within hours that Abdullah should not have been penalized and saved itself from another public-relations black eye.

As much as the players, coaches, referees, league employees and team owners responsible for the NFL’s incumbent black eyes were publicly taken to task by professional and social media for their behavior this season, Goodell himself has been under the heaviest scrutiny.

In his 48-minute state of the league address on Friday, Goodell admitted this has been a “tough year” for him and for the NFL. The commissioner, however, remains optimistic.

“It’s an opportunity for us to get better,” Goodell said. “It’s an opportunity for us and for our organization to get better, so we’ve all done a lot of soul searching, starting with yours truly. We have taken action.”

Some of Goodell’s critics believe he should be presiding over the NFL with the attitude of an athlete, keeping the players’ best interest top of mind. Others say he should be a pure businessman, making financial growth the league’s primary goal. And others will suggest Goodell be more of a cop, putting law and order above all else.

But what if the NFL commissioner were to instead approach the job through the lens of a deeply religious person? Through the lens of a Muslim?

Using religious principles to guide one’s professional decisions is almost as old as religion itself. But is that a feasible course of action for the leader of the world’s most popular and profitable sports league?

What would a Muslim do as NFL commissioner?

Before answering that question, I hope to make it clear that I am not trying to cast aspersions on Roger Goodell personally, either as a commissioner or as a man of faith (whatever his faith may be). This piece is more about exploring where the values and principles of Islam fit within the culture of today’s NFL.

First things first: I don’t think a Muslim NFL commissioner would allow the Washington D.C. franchise to keep its nickname.

Islam is strongly against all forms of racism and bigotry — as detailed in the Quran (49:13) and in the Prophet Muhammad’s final sermon, most notably — and is also strongly for kindness and compassion. Having a racial slur represent the league in such a prominent fashion, particularly a slur aimed at a group of people who have already been treated horribly in this country’s history, is a non-starter.

And if franchise owner Daniel Snyder keeps up with his ignorant comments meant to defend his team’s choice of nickname, with a different commissioner he might find himself in a similar position as exiled former NBA team owner Donald Sterling.

Player safety would be another high-priority issue for a Muslim NFL commissioner.

While I don’t expect any NFL commissioner sell the old lie that player safety is the league’s first priority — if it really was, they’d change the game to flag football immediately — I would expect a Muslim commissioner to work within the framework of the sport as we know it to make things as safe as possible.

Islam teaches its followers to love your fellow man as if he is your brother. And when it’s your brother’s health on the line, of course it will mean more to you. Therefore, with a Muslim NFL commissioner, I don’t think the league would have any more Thursday night games — a cruel bit of scheduling that forces some teams to play two games in five days — and I think the ongoing discussion about an 18-game regular-season schedule would cease.

Another byproduct of a commissioner’s real commitment to player safety — as well as Islam’s prohibition on gambling — would be an end to the practice of injury reports being released publicly.

Currently, NFL teams are required to release injury reports a few days before their game. And let’s be real: The only reason this is a rule is to cater to the gambling industry. Oddsmakers, bookies, prognosticators and gamblers need to know which players are hurt and to which extent they are hurt in order to make accurate picks and continue pumping money into the system. And as many people realized during another recent NFL scandal — the “Bountygate” case of the New Orleans Saints — NFL teams do pay attention to injury reports and will target the injured area of an opponent’s body.

Requiring teams to hand over sealed injury reports to the league office is a smart and probably necessary policy in the name of protecting players from being taken advantage of by team doctors who have conflicting interests. But there’s no need for those reports to go public. By refusing to consider the desires of gamblers, and by essentially removing targets from players’ bodies, this way of handling injury reports would help reduce injuries and long-term health problems for players and former players.

I also believe other injury-related policies — such as NFL rules regarding chop blocks and helmet-to-helmet hits — would regularly be reviewed by a safety-conscious Muslim commissioner, with the goal being that each athlete can walk away from this organized chaos we call pro football as healthy as possible. And keeping in line with the Islamic value of taking care of our elders as they once took care of us, retired players would also receive greater consideration regarding pensions and post-career health care.

Drugs and alcohol are prohibited by Islam, and yet I don’t think a Muslim NFL commissioner would necessarily impose those values on the league’s players as strictly as some may expect. There is no compulsion in religion, according to Islam, and a commissioner’s duty is not to control the lifestyles that players live off the field. In other words, just because the commissioner conducts himself as a Muslim, that doesn’t mean he can require those he works with to behave as Muslims do. But if players do break league policies or societal laws, they will have to face consequences.

Islam places a high value on qualities such as peacefulness, modesty, generosity, discipline, cleanliness, tolerance and honesty, among others. But a commissioner can only go so far without overstepping professional boundaries.

Would a Muslim NFL commissioner, however, allow the league to continue advertising with alcohol companies and selling alcohol at stadiums?

Ideally, they would not. But honestly, since the commissioner is technically working for each of the league’s 32 franchise ownership entities, it would be a very hard sell to get those owners to give up the tremendous chunk of money that comes with advertising and selling alcohol.

And speaking of gameday atmosphere, what would a Muslim commissioner do (if anything) about NFL cheerleaders? About rude and unruly fans? Would more NFL stadiums have prayer and meditation rooms for religious fans?

The ideal Muslim NFL commissioner would approach contract and collective-bargaining negotiations from a place of fairness and avoid being needlessly greedy. So under this commissioner, is the likelihood greater that the 2011 NFL player lockout or the 2012 NFL referee lockout would not have happened? Would labor peace be more likely with a Muslim NFL commissioner?

There is no question, however, that the hottest of hot-button topics Goodell and the NFL faced in the past year has been domestic violence. The league had dealt with cases of players assaulting women in the past, but often those were handled quickly and relatively quietly. Things changed in 2014.

The case of former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice was, depending on who you ask, either a shocking eye-opener or a long overdue last straw when it came to football players and domestic violence. Rice, who was caught on video knocking his wife out with a punch and then dragging her unconscious body from the scene, has been vilified by the public and media more than perhaps any athlete since O.J. Simpson. Meanwhile, Goodell’s handling of the Rice case has drawn the kind of negative attention and criticism that transcends the sports page.

And then just when it seemed the Rice story was fading from public consciousness, Minnesota Vikings superstar running back Adrian Peterson was indicted on child-abuse charges for allegedly beating his four-year-old son in an excessive manner. Peterson’s ensuing suspension was more strict and swift than Rice’s punishment — the NFL had learned a lesson, after all — but Goodell and his league were again painted in a negative light.

Domestic violence is also a controversial topic in the Muslim community.

Although there are multiple hadiths quoting the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) on family life and describing him as a gentle husband and father — “The most complete of the believers in faith, is the one with the best character. And the best of you are those who are best to their women,” the Prophet said — there is still a disturbing and persistent culture of domestic abuse in many Muslim-majority countries and communities around the world. And the actions of those abusers support the misconception that Islam encourages domestic violence.

Would a Muslim NFL commissioner have handled the Rice case or the Peterson case any differently than Goodell handled them?

Given the importance that Islam places on justice, I think that if nothing else, Rice’s initial suspension would’ve been longer than two games given the contents of the infamous videotape, even if Rice had not been convicted in a criminal court.

In the aftermath of the Rice and Peterson cases, the NFL began working on a tougher personal conduct policy, which it is now fighting with the NFL players union to implement sooner than later.

“The league’s revised conduct policy was the product of a tremendous amount of analysis and work and is based on input from a broad and diverse group of experts within and outside of football, including current players, former players, and the NFL Players Association,” the NFL said in an official statement last week. “We and the public firmly believe that all NFL personnel should be held accountable to a stronger, more effective conduct policy. Clearly, the union does not share that belief.”

It is an admirable effort that will lead to a better league, Insha’Allah. But I feel that under a commissioner who is following Islamic principles, a tougher conduct policy would’ve already been in place before Rice and Peterson damaged the league’s reputation and deep-pocketed sponsors started questioning their affiliation with the NFL.

Of course, it is unfairly easy to criticize the actions (and inactions) of people who are in high-profile decision-making roles: men like Roger Goodell and Barack Obama, women like Angela Merkel and Stacey Allaster.

We not only have the benefit of hindsight, but we also don’t face the coming-from-all-corners pressure these leaders live with every day.

While it seems everybody with even a casual interest in football is lining up to tell Goodell how to do his job, I don’t think anyone is under the illusion that his job is an easy one.

The commissioner of the NFL must serve the interests of billionaire team owners without alienating millionaire athletes.

The commissioner must manage the egos of rich, talented and confident men and women who are accustomed to getting their way, all while maintaining goodwill with a mostly working-class fan base whose money makes the entire system go ‘round.

The job of NFL commissioner requires an ability to balance justice with fairness, confidence with humility, forgiveness with accountability, patience with ambition, strength with kindness. It is a balancing act that many Muslims have experience in navigating; a job at which I would fully expect the right Muslim to succeed.

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Amaar Abdul-Nasir was born and raised in Seattle, Wash., and received his B.A. in Journalism from Seattle University. A sports writer and editor by trade, Amaar founded UmmahSports.net, which focuses on Muslim athletes and health and fitness in the Muslim community, following his conversion to Islam in 2013.

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30 Khawaatir in 30 Days- A Parent’s Guide | Day 16: The Best of You

Now that we have learnt about fruit out of season, let’s now talk about the best of you.

I want you all to think about your closest friends and how you treat them. 

Question: Would anyone like to share how they try to treat their closest friends?

That’s wonderful! You try to be thoughtful and considerate of their feelings. You bring snacks to share with them, you may buy or make them a gift.

Question: Now, I want you to close your eyes and think of the way you treat your family members. Is it the same?

Question: Why do you think that there is a difference between the way we treat our friends and the way we may treat our siblings or parents?

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Yes, we do spend a lot of time together. We see each other when we’re cranky or frustrated. Sometimes we want our own space to think, or we don’t want someone interfering with our things. Those are all valid reasons. But, do you know that it is more beloved to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) that you treat your family members better than you even treat your friends?

It’s true! In a hadith, Aisha raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) reported: The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: 

عَنْ عَائِشَةَ قَالَتْ قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ خَيْرُكُمْ خَيْرُكُمْ لِأَهْلِهِ وَأَنَا خَيْرُكُمْ لِأَهْلِي وَإِذَا مَاتَ صَاحِبُكُمْ فَدَعُوهُ

“The best of you are the best to their families, and I am the best to my family.” 

Question: What are some ways we can be the best to our family members? I’m going to share with you a hadith that may help you get some ideas: 

وعن أبى أمامه الباهلى رضي الله عنه قال‏:‏ قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم‏:‏ “أنا زعيم ببيت في ربض الجنة لمن ترك المراء، وإن كان محقاً، وببيت في وسط الجنة لمن ترك الكذب، وإن كان مازحاً، وببيت في أعلى الجنة لمن حسن خلقه” ‏(‏حديث صحيح رواه أبو داود بإسناد صحيح‏).‏

“I guarantee a house in Jannah (Paradise) for one who gives up arguing, even if he is in the right; and I guarantee a house in the middle of Jannah for one who abandons lying even for the sake of fun; and I guarantee a house in the highest part of Jannah for one who has good manners.”

If we work on these three things: less arguing, no lying, and good manners, alongside all of your other suggestions, we will be rewarded with Jannah, inshaAllah

Question: Do you think we can all work hard to be the best to our family members?

 

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Raised by Converts

Note to the reader:  Some Muslims debate which term we should use for someone who has chosen to accept Islam. Is it supposed to be “convert” or “revert?”  In this article, I choose to use the word “convert.”  Before I start receiving comments from individuals who are convinced that the term “revert” is the only correct one, I would like to share this superb article on the issue written by Ricardo Peña, who says it better than I ever could.  

Nuha* thought she had found her soulmate and future life partner in Joel*, her co-worker. He was kind, hardworking, and charming, and the young couple wanted to get married.  Nuha’s father, however, would not give his blessing to the union because the potential groom had recently converted to Islam.  Nuha’s dad wanted his daughter to marry a man who had grown up in a Muslim family and therefore, presumably, had years of Islamic experience and fairly solid religious knowledge. He speculated about some of the things Joel might have done before embracing Islam and whether he had any habits that would be hard to break. He also thought it would be wiser for his daughter to marry someone from the same background; he doubted a white guy would really know how to relate to a Pakistani-American girl and her desi family. Most of all, he worried that Joel would not know enough about Islam to be a good husband, father, and imam of his family.  

Was Nuha’s father justified? Do converts make good spouses and parents? Can they ever truly move on from any un-Islamic aspects of their past and adhere to their new deen

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How do converts attain the knowledge necessary to raise children with Islamic knowledge, taqwa, and adab?

To answer this question I spoke with six Muslims who grew up in a household where one or more parents were converts to Islam. Their answers give insight into the true dynamics of what happens when converts raise children.  

Khadijah is a freelance writer, editor, and writing coach from the United Kingdom. Her mother, a white British woman, converted when Khadijah was eight years old.  When she and Khadijah’s father had divorced, she had felt a need to find a deeper meaning in life. This searching led her to Islam.  

“My mum taught me Islam in stages,” explains Khadijah. “As she learnt things, she passed them onto me. We went to study circles together, and we learnt to pray together as well. She wrote the transliteration of the prayer on little blue cards for us to hold whilst we prayed. I wouldn’t say her knowledge was sufficient at the time, but whose knowledge is? I learnt valuable lessons as I watched her do her own reading, leaning, and questioning. I felt like we stumbled through together. As I grew up, this taught me Islam is a constant journey, and it’s ok to ask questions.”

Shaheda, a freelance writer from North Carolina, grew up in different circumstances than Khadijah, but the women’s stories have definite parallels. Shaheda’s parents are African Americans who were both raised in traditional southern Christian families. The pair converted to Islam in the 1960s when they were college students who were active in the Civil Rights movement. They began to learn about Islam after their introduction to leaders like Malcolm X.  

As different as her parents’ life experiences were from Khadijah’s mum’s, Shaheda enjoyed the same benefit of being able to see her parents growing and changing due to the love of Islam. “My parents were learning Islam as they were raising us,” explains Shaheda, “and so their increase in knowledge was tangible to us. We grew up in a community where you would see the physical manifestations of knowledge acquisition. The style of dress of the sisters became more modest, the separation of women and men became more pronounced in social gatherings, social gatherings took on a more religious tone, we began to attend Sunday school to learn Quran and Arabic.”

Though it may come as a surprise to some, in families where one spouse was a born to a Muslim family and the other is a convert, the convert is often actually the more knowledgable and practicing parent. Aliyah is a family counselor from the Midwestern United States whose Indian mother and white American father met when they were partners in pre-med.  “My dad had read about ‘Mohammedans’ and would ask my mom lots of questions about them,” explains Aliyah. “My mom was raised in a home that was only culturally Muslim. Plus, back then most immigrants just wanted to assimilate. She didn’t really know the answer to my dad’s intensive questions. One day she suggested he ask her father the same questions. My grandfather took him to the ISNA convention where he could ask more knowledgeable people. Alhumdulilah he got all his questions answered and converted!”

 She continues, “As a little kid we always looked at my dad as the sheikh of the house. We all agree that he’s the reason my family is even practicing. He would always patiently entertain and answer my questions, read me stories about the Prophets and Seerah, and really focus on aqeedah and comparative religions.  When I grew up and both our levels of knowledge needed to grow, we learnt together. As a teen, my dad and I would walk to the masjid together and attend the Friday night halaqa. In college, our favorite thing to do was attend al Maghrib classes. I would ditch my friends and discuss with him what we had learned during the lunch break.”

For Iman,* a stay at home mom who grew up between the United States and the Middle East, it was her convert mother — not her Arab father — who was her main Islamic influence.  “I was about 6-7 years old when my mom converted,” she explains.  “I grew up celebrating Christmas and Eid. We had a Christmas tree in our living room for the first several years of my life. My mother, who was raised a Southern Baptist, embraced Islam when my youngest brother was a baby, so for most of his life she was a practicing Muslim. We learned most of what we know from her.  I remember as a child seeing stacks of books on the dining table that she would check out of the masjid library to read and learn. She was a very intelligent woman who knew more about Islam than lots of born Muslims.”

Based on her own experiences, Iman asserts, “Generally speaking, I think converts are more knowledgeable than born Muslims. It can be challenging,” she adds, “when the convert is more serious about deen than their born-Muslim spouse.”

Anisa, a former teacher from Missouri, agrees with Iman.  “In some ways, I feel converts may have more Islamic knowledge than born Muslims because they have had to search for the knowledge themselves as opposed to growing up with it. Also,” she adds, “many born Muslims have grown up with so much culture mixed with the religion that the difference between the two can get blurred.”

Anisa’s mom, a white American woman who was raised Christian, met some Muslims at Oklahoma Baptist College back in 1970.  She started conversations with them in the hopes of converting them to Christianity, but ended up intrigued by their faith. She took an Islamic History class and read whatever books she could find at the library. She decided to become a Muslim at an MSA conference and made her shahada in 1973. “By the time my mother was raising my sisters and me, she definitely knew all the basics of Islam and was able to teach us,” says Anisa.

“She was the main parental source of knowledge for us, although we also attended Sunday school.”Click To Tweet

Mustafa is the child of an Egyptian dad and an American mom. He was born in the U.S. but raised primarily in Egypt where he was surrounded by Muslims, and yet his convert mother was a huge inspiration to him in his faith. “I know that I loved my mom so much,” Mustafa says.  “I felt that she had done the decision-making process for us. That if someone so smart, clever, and precise figured out Islam was the Truth, it must be.” 

“My mom became Muslim in the early 80s,” explains Mustafa. “She learned about Islam from her students while completing her Masters at the University of Illinois-Champagne. She was teaching English as a second language to Malaysian exchange students. She also ended up living with them and learning about Islam from them. People always assumed my mom converted for my dad,” muses Mustafa. “She didn’t even know him when she converted!”

As positive as their experiences were, overall, with the guidance of their convert parents, life was not always easy for the children who grew up with one born-Muslim parent and one convert. Many times, stereotypes about race, ethnicity, and cultural differences complicated their relationships with extended family members and outsiders. Both as children and as adults, many of them had to cope with people’s misconceptions and tactlessness.  

“I was always teased,” confides Aliyah.  “I’ve been called ‘half Muslim,’ ‘zebra,’ and ‘white girl’ in a derogatory way. Aunties always questioned if I was taught Islam properly. People would assume my dad converted for love (the pet peeve of my whole family). I would hear talk in Urdu in the masjid kitchen that I couldn’t cut an onion because I’m white. It was hard for us when we were getting married to find someone that clicked with us because we were so culturally different than everyone we knew.”

“Kids are rough,” adds Mustafa.  “Muslims can be ignorant, stereotypical, and not know what is offensive. Someone asked my sister, ‘Did your dad marry your mom because she wore a bikini?’ We were oddities at school in Egypt when people would see my mom pick us up from school. I was actually embarrassed to be seen with her for a while growing up, just because of all the attention it got me.”

I was “the white girl” in a Muslim school,” explains Khadijah, “and whilst that made the other girls very aware of who I was, there was always an element of separation there. I didn’t feel white. I didn’t feel Pakistani or Gujarati. I don’t feel like it affected me in either a negative or positive way. I got used to not completely belonging and forged my own ‘culture.’ I married an Afro-Caribbean brother, so my children have such a mix of cultures around them and I think it’s pretty beautiful. Whether my upbringing influenced this or not, I don’t know!”

While Shaheda did not feel any religious tension within her extended family, (“I understand from firsthand experience how people of different faiths can coexist in love and mutual respect,” she says), she does experience some difficulty from her brothers and sisters in Islam.  She reports “having to repeatedly validate my identity as an actual Muslim to those who don’t have the same experience. The assumption that there may be something missing or not quite Muslim enough is troublesome.” 

Wisdom to Share

These children of converts with their unique experiences and courageous dedication to their faith have excellent wisdom to share with the Ummah.  

Aliyah, whose work as a counselor focuses especially on Muslim families, has advice for Muslim parents whose marriage is mixed, either culturally or racially. “To youth,” she says, “identity matters SO MUCH, especially in this day and age when that’s all anyone ever talks about. If you’re a white convert parent of brown/black kids, identify your privilege that comes with that. If your kids are brown or black…learn about what that means in America. When I was with my non-Muslim relatives they would just make me feel so ‘other.’ They would focus on my exotic look and beliefs and just make me feel like an alien.” 

She continues, “Research things to consider when you are raising a child that is a different ethnicity than you. Ask your kids how they feel about it. Have an open conversation. Teach them about valuing both their cultural backgrounds.”

Khadijah’s advice to Muslim parents is,

“Learn WITH your children. Let them see that you’re still learning and struggling as well. Let them experience the journey with you. They’ll learn more that way than through lectures. You don’t have to act like you have everything figured out.” 

I believe the constant cycling in of converts into Muslim communities is a great blessing,” offers Shaheda. “And with that blessing comes a responsibility. We owe them our support, wisdom, and love, and I think we should take that responsibility very seriously. We should create bonds. These individuals who Allah has chosen as believers among disbelievers are special, and they keep us on our spiritual toes. There are multitudes of blessings when a community gains a new convert.”

When I asked them if they would have any concerns about their own children marrying converts, all of the interviewees answered a firm “no.”  They realize that a person’s dedication to Islam is not guaranteed by being born into it, or even raised with it. 

Converts — people who chose Islam as mature adults after a great deal of research, soul-searching, and personal transformation — are among our Ummah’s most passionate, educated, and sincere members.  

*Names have been changed

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30 Khawaatir in 30 Days- A Parent’s Guide | Day 15: Fruit Out of Season

Now that we have learnt about making our intentions big, let’s now talk about fruit out of season.

Who can tell me who Maryam raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) is

Yes, she was the mother of ‘Isa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), and also the best woman to ever live. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says in the Qur’an that He chose her over all the women in the world.

Question: Do you know that she was also the niece to a Prophet? Does anyone know her uncle’s name? 

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His name is Zakariya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), good job! Do you know that Prophet Zakariya  'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him)  was actually inspired by something he saw in Maryam’s raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) room? It’s unusual for adults to admit that they learn from younger people, but we actually do, all the time! 

One day, Prophet Zakariya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) went inside Maryam’s raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) room and he saw fruit that was out of season. 

Question: Can anyone tell me what fruit would be out of season in the spring, but we love to eat it in the summertime? Can we get that same fruit in the wintertime?

Well, Maryam raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) would get fruit that was supposed to only grow in the summer during the wintertime too! This was a gift that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) would give her. Zakariya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was so amazed by this! He asked Maryam raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) how she came upon the fruit and she replied:

 هُوَ مِنْ عِندِ اللَّـهِ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ يَرْزُقُ مَن يَشَاءُ بِغَيْرِ حِسَابٍ

“It is from Allah. Indeed, Allah provides for whom He wills without measure.” [Surat Ali ‘Imran; 37] 

Now, by this time, Zakariya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was very old. And when you get to be very old, it is very unusual to have any more children. Zakariya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and his wife never had any children at all. But, he was so inspired by what his niece said that he raised his hands in dua’ and asked Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) for a child. Even though having a child seemed  impossible because it was “out of season” for Prophet Zakariya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) he asks anyway knowing that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) can grant us anything- even if it is not “in season!”

Question: Can we get that same fruit in the wintertime?Did Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) answer Prophet Zakariya’s 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) dua’? 

Yes! Prophet Zakariya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was blessed with Yahya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), who too became a Prophet and was the cousin of Prophet ‘Isa  'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him)!

This shows us that it’s never too late or too early to ask for what our heart desires. Maybe Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) will grant you something that is out of season too!

 

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