Children draw upon what they are exposed to in daily life to understand the world, to make analogies, even to crack jokes.
We listen to an old Arabic audio series of the seerah in the car whenever we go anywhere. Over the past several years, we have listened multiple times on a continuous loop to the seerah of Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم , as well as the lives of Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, Ali, and Khalid ibn Al-Waleed, رضي الله عنهم.
My kids make seerah references all the time, and come up with comments referring to Islamic history often.
Some funny examples:
One day, as we reached our destination of a local park for a play date with a few other moms and their kids, the kids and I scanned the parking lot for our friends’ cars. We didn’t see any, meaning we were the first ones to arrive. It was a big park with multiple different playground areas, each with its own separate parking lot. I wondered aloud which lot we should park in and which playground we should pick.
One of kids says laughingly,
“اه، وصلنا الأول. نقدر أن نختار أرض المعركة!!”
“Ah, we’ve arrived first. We now get to choose the battlefield!”
This is a seerah reference, recalling multiple different incidents. In the past, during battles, it was incredibly important for your army to arrive first as this gave a massive automatic advantage: choosing the most favorable position on the battlefield. The army that gets there first gets to choose the location of the battle, as well as situate its men in the most secure and advantageous way. The opposing army, when it comes, is left to deal with its reality and make the best of their worse position.
For example, in the battle of Badr, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم got there first, and was able to gain complete control of the wells in the area. This cut off access to a water source for the mushrikeen, putting them already at a disadvantage militarily as soon as they arrived at the area of Badr.
At Uhud, the Muslims got there first. So the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم chose the battle ground near the mountain of Uhud, and he positioned the Muslim army in such a way that the mountain was directly behind them, protecting their back. The army of Quraysh had no such natural protection, and from the outset were in a more exposed, vulnerable position.
When Khalid ibn Al-Waleed رضي الله عنه was Commander of the Muslim army during the khilafa of Abu Bakr رضي الله عنه , he was also extremely strategic about choosing the battle ground. He would often have his men march quickly in order to beat the Persian or Byzantine army to the location, and then he would study the landscape and make decisions about how to divide and position his army. Often, his brilliance in strategically positioning his men made it possible for the Muslims, a much smaller army, to defeat the much larger and more powerful army of the enemy.
Remembering all this, my son jokingly declared our advantage in arriving first and getting to pick the “battle grounds” (i.e., playground).
Another time, in the height of summer, we got to a park that was kind of a long way off from where we had parked the car. Each boy carried either some large water bottles, bags of food (their lunch), or some other load. As the kids trudged down the path toward the park carrying their things, one boy said,
“وسار الجيش في الصحراء، أربعة أيام، يحملون الماء والطعام والسلاح…”
“And so the army marched, four days, carrying their water and food and weapons…”
This is a reference to the unorthodox, risky march of Khalid’s army from Iraq (where they had just won a major battle) toward Ash-Sham, where another Muslim army was fighting but urgently needing reinforcements. There was a long but safe route one could take from Iraq to Sham, and there was a shorter but much more dangerous way that cut straight across the vast empty desert without food or water or shade. Khalid opted to take the shorter route in order to get to Sham faster to help the other Muslim army more quickly, though it was a bold and risky move. Alhamdulillah through some precise planning and strategic forethought, Khalid was able to organize the logistics such that no one in his army perished of hunger or thirst, and they were able to come to the aid of the Muslims in Sham faster than expected with Allah’s aid.
Yesterday, we went to a new park with some friends. This park was fully encircled by a fence, with gates at two ends. We walked up to one of the gates, but my 7-year-old had trouble opening the tricky latch on the gate. The 10-year-old jokingly commented,
“عندما وصل الجيش إلى خيبر، وجدوا أن القوم قد تحصنوا في حصونهم وأغلقوا الأبواب. هل هذا حصن ناعم أم صعب بن معاذ أم قلعة الزبير؟”
“When the army arrived at Khaybar, they found that the people had barricaded themselves inside their fortresses and locked the gates. Is this the fortress of Na’im or of Sa`b ibn Mu`adh or Qal`at Az-Zubayr?”
He named the first three fortresses of the region of Khaybar. Then he laughed and helped his younger brother unlatch the park gate.
Alhamdulillah. These kids sure keep me entertained!