Children are not like adults when they learn new things; knowledge doesn’t just sit on a dusty shelf in the mind. Kids internalize new things they learn and apply them to everything. Kids bring whatever you teach them into daily life scenarios, applying their knowledge sometimes in the most hilarious way.
One example of this happened for us last night over dinner.
It started innocently enough. I was telling my husband and children about my having gone grocery shopping at the local grocery store and how I had bought a smoothie because I was thirsty.
“Did you drink it in the store while you were shopping?” one child asked me.
“No, because it would have been hard to drink it with my niqab on,” I said.
“No. You just put the bottle underneath the niqab,” another child insisted. “It’s easy.”
“Well yes, but it’s the combination of the niqab and the shopping cart. It’s hard to drink something while pushing the cart. I was in a rush and didn’t want to stand there just drinking.” I said. “How would I lift one corner of the niqab with one hand, hold the bottle with the other hand, and still push the cart?”
I had meant it as a rhetorical question to end this “discussion,” but the kids took this simple, mundane masala and ran with it. They started recalling various incidents from different parts of the seerah (life of the prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم) and juxtaposing them with this grocery-store incident in the most ridiculous and increasingly-unbelievable way.
In this next part, see if you can spot the callbacks. See if you can identify what each statement made is referring to from the seerah. (Answers at the end of the post.) Enjoy!
My 9-year-old answered my rhetorical question, laughing. “You use both hands to drink and you control the cart with your legs!” (1)
We all laughed.
The 7-year-old added, “No, I’ve got an even better idea. You construct a هودج (hawdaj) for yourself to sit upon, and have the camel that your hawdaj sits on pull the cart behind you.” (2)
My 6-year-old added, “Wear fancy clothes and sit on your hawdaj like a queen, and do whatever you want and refuse to pay for your purchases.”
I laughed and joined the game, adding, “Yeah, and then if they send a messenger to me I’d wrong him, which would be a declaration of war.” (3)
The 9-year-old responded, “And when they come after you, put your army in tigers to show them you mean business!” (4)
The 7-year-old said, “فلا نامت أعين الجبناء!”
“May the eyes of cowards never sleep!” (5)
(1) Khalid ibn Al-Waleed used to fight two-handed, with a sword in each hand. How did he control his horse? With his legs. (The only other man among the Arabs who could do this was Az-Zubayr ibn Al-`Awwam.)
(2) A hawdaj is the small canopied seat constructed specifically for carrying a person atop a camel for long travel. Women were carried inside the hawdaj for their convenience and protect them from the sun’s harsh rays and guard their haya. `Aisha رضي الله عنها was carried in such a hawdaj in the incident that spurred the events of the Ifk.
(3) Wronging a messenger sent by a chief or a king was a declaration of war among the Arabs. This happened several different times, such as when the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم sent a messenger to the chief of الغساسنة , the Ghassassina, a tribe of Christian Arabs allied with the Romans. This incident set off the start of the epic battle of Mu’ta (معركة مؤتى).
(4) “Wearing tigers” refers to the ancient Arab custom of soldiers in an army donning tiger skins to appear more ferocious and aggressive to intimidate the enemy. If an Arab said “لبس الجنود النمور” it translates literally to “The soldiers wore the tigers,” and would be said in English this way: “The soldiers are on the warpath.” Meaning: they are ready to fight.
(5) Part of the last statement uttered by Khalid ibn Al-Waleed رضي الله عنه on his deathbed.
In the span of approximately two minutes, the kids had come up with all these wildly creative solutions for my problem of how to drink a smoothie with a niqab on while pushing a shopping cart.