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The Bedtime Story

The Bedtime Story

Issue 62 November 2009

Bedtime stories have always been a staple tradition within my family set up; it was something I grew up with and it is something that I thoroughly enjoy doing with my own children. My mother would reel stories off of the top of her head to my brother and I, with the greatest of ease,  and she never failed to recite the same version each time; modern day mothers usually require a bit of help from books, besides, with all the other millions of things to juggle, it is not easy to remember stories if your head is constantly filled with a mental  ‘to do’ list; as you can imagine, it can get pretty crowded up there.   And then, of course, there is another issue:  “Please can you tell me the same story you told me two months ago about the little girl called Amelia?” And so you begin reciting the story – to the best of your knowledge until – “Mum! That isn’t right! You didn’t say that last time! How can you leave out the part where she trips over the football?”  Whilst you struggle to recall the story that you quite evidently recited with ease a few months ago, your children will not be satisfied with your efforts and their actions slowly translate into annoyance. Arms folded. Grumpy faces.  Unhappy children at bedtime, is not the ideal ending to any day.  So, experience has taught me that the best thing to do is to actually read story books. That way you don’t have your six year old telling you that the story is all wrong, and that you have a bad memory – eek!

 The whole concept of an uplifting story to end the day fills my children and I with immense joy and anticipation. Every evening, after bath-time, once we have all slipped into our comfortable pyjamas and brushed our teeth, we snuggle up in bed and begin. With a clever rota system in place, I have ensured that each of my four children get a book of their choice read. “Mum, it’s my turn today,” exclaimed Sobia, and off she went to pick out a book from her much adored collection. “There!” she attempted to plonk a heavy ‘Stories from the Quran, for children’ book in my hands. “Okay, this is a good one,” I thought to myself. 

Flicking through the chapters I came across Sura Al-Imran and Sura Maryam which explains the birth of Prophet Jesus. Since we are nearing Christmas, which always raises a host of questions in the minds of little people in the house, I thought that this might help explain some of the queries. And so the story began, “A long time ago, the daughter of a very religious man, who belonged to the family of Al Imran,” interrupted Sobia, “ Imran? Isn’t that dad’s bothers name?” “Yes, it is” I confirmed. “So, was he a Muslim then?” added Hakim. “Um... Well he believed in one God.” I replied. “So, then what religion was he?” he quizzed further. “Well, they were considered to be  ‘People of the Book’ and they were asked to believe in God and his Messengers, and they were, amongst many others, Prophet Moses, Prophet Jesus and Prophet Muhammad , in that order, as far as we know. ” I concluded. “Awwww, really?” Came the open-eyed, unanimous response.  I carried on, “Where was I? Oh yes.... Was chosen by God to be a pious and virtuous woman. Her name was Mary or Maryam and she was blessed by God’s protection from birth.”

“Why did she have two names?” interrupted Maria. “Maryam is Arabic for Mary” I explained and then continued, “One day Mary decided to leave her family, since Allah had commanded her to do so, and under a Palm tree, gave birth to Prophet Jesus. Mary was always sent blessings in the form of provisions from God through his angels. When she gave birth, Prophet Jesus spoke (when he was just a baby): He said: ‘I am indeed a servant of God: He hath given me revelation and made me a prophet.’” Hiba, desperate to ask a question, butted in, “So, if Prophet Jesus was born to Mary, did she stop listening to Uncle Moses?” Stumped by the questions, I cleared my throat and said, “No sweetie, and it is ‘Prophet’ Moses; once Prophet Jesus was born, he taught the same things that Prophet Moses taught but with a few changes.”

“But why did they change things?” asked a rather perplexed Hakim. I could see that we were leading into ‘Question Time’ and that this was going to complicate matters further. “Well, let’s put it this way. Each time God sent a messenger, he was given a book. Every messenger of Allah had an updated version of the book. Today we know some of these religions as Christianity and Judaism. Islam is the final version of all these books.” There, I think that explains it. “Ohhh, so does that mean we believe in Prophet Moses and Prophet Jesus?” gleamed Maria. Sceptical of her happiness, I replied hesitantly, “Yes, we do. We respect them both.” “Yipeee, that means we can celebrate Christmas!” exclaimed Maria. So much for me explaining the religious family tree, now I will be facing a host of new questions in December.l

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