This reflection is part of Sapelo’s Ramadan 2020 series. To read other reflections in the series click here.
By Hope Copeland
I remember as a child hearing stories narrated by my granddaddy of the struggles that he as a young man endured and overcame. These stories were always followed up with prayers requesting mercy, or better days, or an increase in sustenance made by either my grandparents, parents, aunts or uncles. The stories that my granddaddy shared were about the injustice, oppression and hard times that Black people of the South experienced in the mid-to-late 1900s.
I remember as a child hearing stories narrated by my granddaddy of the struggles that he as a young man endured and overcame.
When I reflect on Juz’ 17 of the Holy Qur’an (21:1–22:78), I remember the stories of the struggles of Black people in America, especially in the South, and I recall the struggles that I have seen or experienced in my own lifetime. It’s in the first half of the Juz’, in Surah al-Anbiya, that Allah (swt) bestows His blessings on us by reminding us of the trials of His holy prophets (p.b.u.t.). We are reminded that Prophet Ibrahim (p.b.u.h.) showed the fallacy of idolatry by breaking the idols. Prophet Ibrahim (p.b.u.h.) made the idolaters themselves declare that their idol-gods could not speak yet alone profit anybody, harm anyone, nor could they help themselves. We see how Allah (swt) caused a fire that Prophet Ibrahim was forced into to be cooled and made a source of comfort for Prophet Ibrahim (p.b.u.h.). We are also shown the grace of Allah (swt) through the story of Prophet Lut (p.b.u.h.), a righteous man, from a town of people that practiced deeds displeasing to Allah (swt). Prophet Lut (p.b.u.h.) was given Hukm or right judgement of affairs by Allah (swt) and was delivered from among a rebellious and disobedient people before Allah’s (swt) judgement was administered. Countless examples of hardships, struggles and trials are given to us in Juz’ 17 through stories of Prophets Nuh, Sulaimon, Dawud, Ayyub, Yaqub, Musa, Harun, Zachariyya, Ismail and Yunus (p.b.u.t.). In each story, each Prophet endured their respective trial with patience, obedience, prayer, the practice of righteousness and continual faith in Allah (swt). Through each hardship, Allah (swt) fulfilled His promise, provided divine protection and delivered these righteous men from their afflictions and bestowed His Mercy and Bounties upon them.
My grandfather, a sharecropper in the oppressive American South, narrated stories to me, my siblings and my cousins of him being consistently cheated out of his appropriate profit when he would bring his crops to the market for auction. At that time, his white counterparts had what was known as “the good ole boys’ club,” and they would often give Black sharecroppers and farmers a below- market bid for their crops and give a higher bid to the privileged members of their “good ole boys’ club.” The economic injustice plagued my grandfather and many other Black farmers and, oftentimes, had a domino effect on the household finances of Black families. I remember as a little girl, observing the disappointment my granddaddy experienced when he was denied Small Business Administration loans for having had a “low yield” the previous season. The systemic oppression was also institutionalized in the U. S. Department of Agriculture and targeted Black farmers. My grandfather would share that he would continue to do the right thing, pray and hope for better days to come. He would continue to farm and produce good crops and grow healthy foods for his family.
Just as Allah (swt) delivered His righteous servants through their trials and hardships, Allah (swt) always provided for my grandfather and family, and I honestly can’t remember ever wanting for anything.
Just as Allah (swt) delivered His righteous servants through their trials and hardships, Allah (swt) always provided for my grandfather and family, and I honestly can’t remember ever wanting for anything. In my family, we always kept God at the center of everything. We always prayed and encouraged each other to be patient, faithful and hopeful through all our trials. My grandfather taught all of us children how to grow our own food, slaughter animals, hunt and fish to name a few. Each lesson he taught us would later provide the foundation for us to aspire and achieve all our goals in life. Each time I read in the Qur’an about the struggles of any righteous men and women and how Allah (swt) delivered His faithful servants from the affliction of their struggles, I am encouraged to follow their example to remain obedient, keep up prayer and do good and forbid evil. My grandfather had no idea that all the lessons that he taught us would be fruitful and multiply. Today, Allah (swt) has blessed us with a family of three generations of gardeners, scientists, mathematicians, doctors, engineers, educators, clothing designers and producers of any essential need one could imagine. I am thankful to Allah (swt) for the mercy He bestowed on us through the revelation of the Holy Qur’an and His last prophet to mankind, the Holy Prophet Muhammad, and his Holy Ahlul Bayt (p.b.u.t.a.). I am thankful to Allah (swt) for the blessings of having good grandparents and parents, the trials that we have endured; and that He delivered us through.
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Hope Copeland learned about Islam at boarding school and took her shahadah during her freshman year of college 20 years ago. She is particularly interested in the Ja’fari school of law and has found an unlimited amount of knowledge in the study of the Ahlul Bayt of the Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s peace and blessing be upon him).