Golden Day Remembering a Golden Age

Summer is here in full force and after a very long school year, we are trying to make the best of our vacation. My daughter and I are off to a good start: eating ice cream every day equals a successful summer and we have accomplished that much so far! For a parent of a teen, it is extremely difficult to find that perfect balance between a fun yet fruitful, easygoing yet educational, and relaxing yet physically active summer! With less responsibilities and school deadlines, our teens can fret less over studies, but they still need to be diligent in their worship of Allah, extra good deeds they can do, and their pursuit of knowledge. 

So, on my Mission Impossible of doing fun and cool things in the eyes of a teenager while trying to sneak in some education and cultural richness, I suggested that we visit the Detroit Institute of Art. Although my husband was dubious that we would find anything that would enrich our knowledge of Islam, and my daughter said that she wasn’t interested in seeing naked statues at an art museum, we went anyway, hoping it would be a good learning experience. And, we figured that at least one bonus would be getting halal burgers afterwards from one of the many halal restaurants in Detroit! 

We were all in for a pleasant surprise! 

With the directory and map in hand, our daughter led us on the tour of the museum. There are many interesting sections that we briefly viewed and admired: art from Africa, Egypt, China, Japan, Korea, Europe, and American art which included works of older and contemporary artists and a section of truly breathtaking paintings of landscapes.

We learned how crafters could make ceramic bowls look like precious and expensive metals by working at different temperatures to give a shiny luster that looks like bronze or gold.

However, the section which captured our hearts and which we spent most of our time at, even though it was relatively small, was the section on arts from the Islamic world. It showcased artifacts preserved from over centuries ago with such minute details: drinking bowls and cups, rugs, ceramic vases and platters, swords and armor, oil lamps, mirror cases, glass water jugs, and more. Faith was a central part of the lives of Muslims of that time; it was part of their core being. You will find the Name of Allah or a supplication or a verse of the Qur’an engraved on their utensils and everyday items. 

Calligraphy is also an art; and the museum had a separate section dedicated to Arabic calligraphy. We saw the different writing tools and ink holders used by writers hundreds of years ago. 

I was mesmerized by some of the books we found in the Detroit Institute of Art. We found this book, handwritten more than 200 years ago by a scholar who listed the golden names of the Companions of Badr. These names are written in history until eternity as the soldiers of the first army to fight alongside Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. These names in perfectly written black ink were staring back at me from behind a glass case in an art museum in Detroit; God is great. We will be getting a sweet and much needed dose of Islamic education today!

Seeing their names on paper moved me to tears. I couldn’t help it; tears were trickling down my face due to a multitude of emotions. 1) Pride: I was proud to be called a Muslim just like those men whose names were written in that book. 2) Happiness: the light of Islam had spread to all corners of the Earth that I could bring my daughter to an art museum in America where she could read of the Battle of Badr. 3) Humility and shame: this is how the Companions of Badr served Islam; what have I done for Islam? 4) Longing: Oh Allah, I know I am not good enough to deserve Paradise, but with your Mercy and Grace, would you permit me to enter Paradise and meet these men and women, whose names have been written in this book and etched on my heart forever?

Oh what I would give to be in the presence of the Companions of Badr! Do you know what it means to have your name written on this list: The Companions of Badr? 

In an authentic hadeeth, Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him said, “Perhaps Allah has looked at those who witnessed Badr and said, ‘Do whatever you like, for I have forgiven you.’” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim] Allah has decreed that He is pleased with the Companions of Badr, that they shall be among the people of Paradise guaranteed, and that their sins will be forgiven. 

Please tell me, how can you not cry when you are unexpectedly confronted with such a book, entitled The Companions of Badr?

As I squinted at the book, I saw some of the names of the greats that I knew and that we all know, like the young hero and martyr, Musab bin Umair. 

There were more names. Names of men whose greatness had not been known to me. Until today. 

Nouman bin Malik. He was among the Ansar, who helped and supported the Prophet and the Muslims immigrating from Makkah to Madinah. Nouman bin Malik had a physical disability, a limp, yet he wanted to participate in the Battle of Badr with the Prophet. He fought bravely and he rejoiced at the victory of the Mulsim army! A year later, when the Prophet was preparing for the Battle of Uhud, Nouman bin Malik was in the rows of soldiers preparing for battle. The Prophet peace be upon him was hesitant to allow Nouman bin Malik to participate because of his ailment, out of mercy for him, but Nouman insisted. Indeed, Nouman bin Malik fought in the Battle of Uhud, and he was martyred. 

Malik bin Sinan was among the earliest people in Madinah to embrace Islam. He supported the cause of Islam early on. He participated in the Battle of Badr and the Battle of Uhud. During Uhud, when the fighting was very fierce, the Prophet peace be upon him was injured and the wounds on his face were bleeding. Malik bin Sinan was among the group of companions who surrounded the Prophet to protect him, and Malik bin Sinan also cleaned the blood off of the Prophet’s face. Later in the battle, Malik bin Sinan was martyred.

More names. Trying to conduct further research on some of these names proved to be futile, as not much is known about these names. Wahb bin Qaboos. Qais bin Makhlad. Malik bin Iyas. I do not know them, but Allah knows them.                                                                                                               

At the Detroit Institute of Art, we also found a book of the Holy Qur’an that was custom made and beautifully handwritten for a Muslim princess in Turkey. There was a tile with Ayatul Kursi decoratively written on it. There was even a silver coin (dirham) dated back to the Caliphate of Omar bin Al-Khattab.

We found an ancient handwritten book that had compiled forty sayings of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. The Prophet was known for his words to be concise yet so deep and rich in meaning that they could suffice to teach a valuable lesson in a few words; without the need for a long lecture. 

I read slowly and quietly with my daughter, pausing after each Hadeeth to give time for the words to sink in. (The book in the museum is in its original form in Arabic, but I will translate for my readers.) 

“Richness is not the abundance of wealth. Rather, true richness is self-sufficiency.”

“Part of the perfection of one's Islam is his leaving that which does not concern him.”

“Allah loves the easygoing, cheerful person.”

“Paradise is under the feet of mothers.”

“The furtive glance is one of the poisoned arrows of Iblees (Shatyan).”

No need for me to say more; no need to say anything. 

In the car, on the Google Maps app on my phone, I typed in “halal burgers near me”. After lunch, with our hearts and now stomachs full, one more stop was needed. Coffee. Yemeni coffee mingled in with ginger, cardamom, and cinnamon. Need I say more? Alhamdulillah.


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