By Ammarah Usmani
There’s something about kids that just makes me smile. As wild and unmanageable as they can be at times, it all stems from the glorious glow of innocence that adorns their faces each passing day.
I was substituting for the Qur’an teacher at the Islamic school’s summer program. The kids were all divided into 3 sections, depending on their grade levels.
Class B was quite honestly the most pleasing to teach—they didn’t possess the rowdy, smart-aleck nature of the older kids, and they weren’t as hyper as the younger ones. The teacher had assigned them all different surahs (chapters in the Qur’an) to memorize.
I was subbing for the class the second day, and by this time I had a general sense of the kids and knew most of their names.
As I was listening to one of the boys recite his surah, I noticed one of the girls sitting quietly. Too quietly. Her large hijab drooped over her forehead and her lips weren’t moving. When the boy finished his surah, I scooted closer to this girl and gently asked her to lift up her head.
Big, wet tears were streaming down her smooth, tan cheeks. I cupped her face with my hands and brushed her tears away with my thumbs, asking what was wrong.
A few rows down, I heard another girl speak up, “She thinks I’m not her friend anymore.”
I turned to the source of the squeaky voice and saw an equally crestfallen face. I asked for an elaboration. Apparently, this girl, Alea, had sat with another friend during lunch besides Aina, so Aina thought she had lost her best friend.
I smiled at the trivial nature of this dilemma, but my smile was immediately gone when I saw moisture leaking from Alea’s eyes as well.
At this point, my heart shattered into minute, itty bitty specks. I’m not known for a tough disposition.
Glassy-eyed as well now, I took both Alea and Aina aside and explained that they were obviously good friends—I’d seen them reading together, playing together, and now they were crying together. I wiped both girls’ tears away, gave each a warm hug, and told them to hug each other (facilitated by me opening both their arms out).
By the time I’d listening to a few other kids’ surahs, I looked back at them. They were sitting together, laughing, talking as if nothing had ever gone wrong between them.
I walked over to them a few minutes later and both looked up and beamed at me.
“We finished memorizing Surah Al-Humazah.”
All of the other kids had recited their surahs individually, but I allowed these two to recite together. They recited beautifully, perfectly in sync with each other. Alea’s lower voice complemented Aina’s higher one.
Subhan’Allah (glory be to God). Why is childhood looked upon so enviously by adults? It’s true that circumstances change as one ages—more responsibilities, less attention towards oneself—but we forget the simplest truths of life.
A child is able to be true, simple, and pure hearted.
I admired Aina’s ability to forgive her friend, and my heart melted at the sight of Alea’s tears for the thought of hurting her friend. Even if I hadn’t consoled them, they would’ve eventually patched things up.
Why are adults so hard-hearted? We feed off of suspicions, gossip, hearsay, and never mind the gruesome face-to-face confrontations. Like children, we bicker and fight, but unlike children, we take too long to forget.
Children see each moment as its own. One minute, a little girl is crying as if all hope in the world is lost, just because the straw won’t go inside her juice box. The other second, she’s skipping around the gym with her best friend. Once the moment passes, they no longer live in it. It’s gone. And they move on, just like that. It’s as if they know completely well that everything is in Allah’s hands, and what was meant to happen, has happened.
The sad thing is—adults are the ones who know that fact. But their actions, their speech, don’t reflect it.
Hardly do our eyes moisten at the thought of seeing our brothers and sisters in grief. We don’t even allow ourselves to think about the fact that we maybe, possibly, hurt one of our sisters or brothers. Instead, we think of ten other reasons to justify the way we treated them. The ego just keeps inflating.
Vulnerability. It’s what makes childhood so beautiful. And the fear of being vulnerable, fear of being open to others, fear of taking the bandages off our wounds and letting others see our flaws, fear of admitting that we have flaws, is what makes adulthood so unappealing, so rough and difficult. We build ourselves up from the outside, but these hidden insecurities just keeping eating away at the core.
Strength and self-confidence is different from being arrogant and pretentious. Collect your strength by trusting Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He). And leave it up to Him to protect your honor, your respect.
If you have children, or if you’re around children in your daily life, observe how they handle situations. Learn from their innocence. Being around adults all the time can really cause you to forget to be thankful for the simple, small things in life.
Just like a child is helpless in front of the world, we’re all helpless in front of Allah (swt), in front of His will. It’s okay to admit that we’re wrong, because we all are at numerous times.
And just as a child cries to his mother out of guilt and shame, and the mother forgives and forgets, Allah (swt) forgives and forgets the greatest of sins. But only if we bring out the inner child, the lost innocence, and cry out to Him.