Reflection on Juz’ 14 by Djamil Ninsoo

Bismillah Ar Rahman Ar Raheem, with the name of Allah The Most Gracious The Most Merciful. 

These words are recited by practicing Muslims and Muslimahs at least seventeen times a day. These words are set at the beginning of 113 out of 114 chapters of the Qur’an. But what do these words mean? In a world where we are told to fear Allah, when last did you take the time to give thanks for his grace? His mercy? In Surah al-Nahl Ayah 18, Allah tells us that “if ye would count up the favours of Allah, never would ye be able to number them; for Allah is oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.” If you didn’t know where to start counting favours, Allah reminds us that he is oft-forgiving. In fact, He loves to forgive.

Alhamdulillah by the grace and mercy of Allah I am home in Jamaica offering my reflection on this Juz’ comprising surahs al-Hijr and al-Nahl (15:1–16:128). Far removed from my commute to work in Ft. Lauderdale or the tourist lines of Ochi, sits Galina – a one road district where various goat flocks occupy the primary school’s football field. When it’s not in use by students or the local young men, the field is their pasture. It is here, from the veranda of my NaniJi’s home that I see these ayahs in a new light.

“And cattle He has created for you (men): from them ye derive warmth, and numerous benefits, and of their (meat) ye eat. And ye have a sense of pride and beauty in them as ye drive them home in the evening, and as ye lead them forth to pasture in the morning… It is He who sends down rain from the sky: from it ye drink, and out of it (grows) the vegetation on which ye feed your cattle.” — 16:5–6, 10

I’ll be the first to say that there is no meal better than curry goat with white or fresh roti. Whatever isn’t curried is the main ingredient in mannish water, but unless we are the ones who raise livestock, or eat farm to table, how often do we stop to think about the cattle, poultry, or goats providing our meal? How often do we think about the provisions that sustain them? What sustains us? Do you remember to say Alhamdulillah? When you pour your milk, whether before or after the cereal, do you remember to say Alhamdulillah? 

In a world where we are told to fear Allah, when last did you take the time to give thanks for his grace? His mercy?

It is my sincere du‘a everyone has a chance to watch as a herd of goats make their way from grazing, to admire the creation of Allah in the various coat patterns, horn shapes, and sizes as young kids bound quickly after their mothers. 

Allah then mentions the rain. Perhaps we find ourselves dreading the meterologist’s prediction of rain but it too is a blessing for a planet covered in 71% water but only 3% of it is fresh water.

Notice how he sends the rain not just for us, but for the flora and fauna as well. Allah’s favours are anything but one and done. From the cattle and goats we receive more than meat and dairy. They provide a means of warmth, leather and cashmere respectively. It’s the same manure from these animals in conjunction with the rain and sun that aids in the cultivation of produce such as ackee, breadfruit, and mango. 

As we enter this halfway point of Ramadan let us remember to take some time and think on Allah’s many favours..

May this serve as a reminder that amongst Allah’s many favours is that He created us as a community with a desire for connectedness. Livestock live in herds, flowers and trees grow in orchards and bunches, and even the rain falls in drops. In like manner when our father Adam (Peace Be Upon Him) longed for companionship, Allah created our mother Hawa (Peace Be Upon Her), and every Prophet after is spoken about in connection with their families and communities. It’s this intrinsic sense of coming together that causes me to look to the bees, the creatures this surah is named for and the very ones mentioned in ayah 68 “And thy Lord taught the Bee to build its cells in hills, on trees, and in (men’s) habitations.” Just like the bees we too live in homes of concrete (hills), wood (trees), and metal (men’s habitations). Another of the many favours of Allah is the bees acting as pollinators, keeping the flowers blooming. They also produce honey in a myriad of colors, which has health benefits and can be used to sweeten.

As we enter this halfway point of Ramadan let us remember to take some time and think on Allah’s many favours.. From the obvious such as health, wealth, and life to the ones we probably never stopped to consider like goats, flowers, and the bees with their honey. InshAllah you and yours find this Ramadan warm, bright, and filled with a sweetness that only Allah could bestow.

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Djamil Ninsoo is a cultural activist and artist. Author of the book “Eva, My NaniJi” a biography of his maternal grandmother in the form of a children’s book, Djamil is perhaps better known as DouglaBwoy on Tiktok where he utilises his platform to educate the public about the history of Jamaican Muslims of African and Indian ancestry. Djamil works with Art Prevails, a non-profit that works to strengthen underserved communities through literary and performing arts, as an actor and teaching artist. He also is a member of Muslim Culture Con, a young adult Muslim organisation focused on preserving and developing an Islamic culture in America by following the Holy Qur’an, the excellent life example of Muhammad the Prophet (PBUH), and the legacy of Imam W. Deen Mohammed’s (RA) vision for Model Muslim American community life. A proud son of Jamaica, Djamil is a student of history and lover of culture who believes in education through representation. An African American studies major with a concentration in the Caribbean, Djamil has a primary interest in Islamic retention in the Anglophone Caribbean.

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