A Poem Contest

A Story and a Miracle

A Poem Contest

Maulana Haydar Ali Madani

“Brother, look! I have a book of poetry on the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم!” said Khubayb whilst extending a book towards Suhayb. The latter took hold of it carefully and got off his seat. It was a day off from school, and so the brothers were asked to clean the bookshelf by their Grandad. This is where Khubayb found the book. It looked very old. The front page had Zawq-e-Nʿat written on it in large letters. On the inside of the front page, the following was written in blue ink: “This is the prize given by the principal for 1st place.” Because of how old it was, the writing was wearing away and difficult to read.

Both brothers looked at one another with an inquisitive look on their faces. They could not figure out what this was all about. “Let’s go to Grandad and ask him!”, said Khubayb.

Grandad was sitting outside on the lawn flickering through a book. Suhayb, along with his brother, came up to him and opened the book. They showed him the inside of the front page where “This is the prize given by the principal for 1st place” was written. A huge smile appeared on Grandad’s face when he saw this. It was as though he remembered something very pleasing.

Grandad explained:

When I was in school, we used to have many different competitions every year. One competition was based on poetry about the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم. I took part in this as my father told me to. He also helped me prepare. We prepared so well that I won a prize for coming first.

“Wow!” both brothers exclaimed together.

“But Grandad”, Khubayb responded, “How do you have a competition for poetry?”

“This is when two people compete. One competitor comes forward and reads a couplet. Then, the other reads a couplet. However, there is one condition: the other person has to start with the same letter the first person ended with.”

Grandad asked the brothers to have a go at this. They went back and forth with one another, mentioning poetry in praise of the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم whilst following the rules.

Suhayb exclaimed, “This seems fun! If I get the chance to compete in a competition like this in high school, I will come first!”

“Yeh, yeh, I will come first”, said Khubayb mocking Suhayb.

“Khubayb, stop this!”, Grandad said immediately, “Making fun of people is not acceptable. One, you will offend and hurt your fellow Muslim. And two, you will poke fun at him. Our beautiful religion of Islam does not allow both.”

Ashamed, Khubayb apologised.

Seeing Khubayb was embarrassed, Grandad changed the subject to something positive:

Let me tell you a story. When returning from the Battle of Hunayn, the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم stopped somewhere to offer salah. You already know how much he loved salah. Whether at home, travelling, or anywhere else, he never missed salah. So, he stopped along with everyone accompanying him. The muezzin called azan. Some boys were nearby, and they began copying the muezzin to make fun of him.

The Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم also heard them. One of the boys had a voice which the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم liked a lot. He called them over and asked which one had just given azan in the best voice. They all pointed to one boy.

The same boy explains the rest of the story by saying: “When the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم first called us to him, I disliked him the most. But when my friends pointed me out, he left all the other boys and made me stand in front of him. He taught me how to give the azan and had me recite it again. He passed his hand over my forehead and chest. The dislike I had for him previously disappeared, and my heart became full of love for him.”[1]

Grandad concluded by saying, “Dear children, this was also a miracle of our Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم: in just one moment, he turned all of the boy’s hate into love. Now, let’s get back to sorting out the bookshelf.”

Grandad stood up and walked with Suhayb and Khubayb back inside.

[1] Ibn Mājah, vol. 1, p. 392, hadith 708




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