Eternal Success Syllabus

Talha’s seed

Talha grasped something tiny in his hand as he walked down the path to see his friend Abdullah. Occasionally he stopped, bent down to run his fingers through the soft earth, then shook his head and started walking again.

It wasn’t long before the roof of the barn was visible and soon the whole farm was just minutes away. Talha kept his treasure clasped tightly, hidden in his fist, as he approached the farm gate. 

On the other side of the gate, ready as ever to greet him, were the chickens. They clucked and pecked and strutted around him as he entered their land. After a few minutes he found the farmer Abdullah out on the field playing with some lambs. 

“Assalaamo’alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu!” he called out. 

“Wa alaikumAssalaam warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu!” replied Abdullah excitedly, before running over to his friend.

“Alhammdulillah this spring Allah has blessed us with lots of new lambs! They are so much fun to look after and play with. One of them is unable to have milk from his mama so we need to look after her lots and feed her ourselves.”

Talha watched as the lambs frolicked together in the field. Occasionally coming to run their little heads under Abdullah’s affectionate fingers. The worry was circling his mind and he found his thoughts going round and round as he tried to articulate his feelings to his friend.

“Abdullah,” he said finally. “I’m feeling concerned about this year’s crops. Is anything growing so far?”

“Well, I only just planted our corn and wheat and our potatoes and onions won’t be planted till next week. The apple and pear trees in the orchard are of course not due to show much fruit for some time yet. Why? What do you think is wrong?” replied Abdullah slowly.

“This soil is filled with chemicals, they must have come down the river from that factory up there,” replied Talha, pointing to some smoking chimneys in the distance. “I think it will be difficult to grow enough this year. The village is relying on us for their food staples. Come with me, I need to show you something.

Talha owned three fields next to Abdullah’s that were usually bursting with fresh, ripe strawberries. Children and their families usually came every summer with baskets and excited faces to pay a small charge and collect as many strawberries as they liked. Talha’s café would also serve them fresh strawberry and banana smoothies and strawberry ice lollies.

However, this year, when they would usually expect the fresh small green baby strawberries to emerge, there was very little fruit to be seen anywhere.

The two friends walked between the rows of wilted strawberry plants in silence. They were both thinking the same thing. What would happen to their farm if nothing was able to grow? What could they do to make the soil safe and nutritious for their plants to reach their full potential?

Just then the adhaan for dhuhr pulled them away from their thoughts. They walked, still both deep in thought, to the masjid which was on the edge of the strawberry fields. Its tall green minaret and shining dome rose out of the crops like a forest and it’s entrance door was stood open allowing the sun to shine in.

As Talha removed his shoes he slowly opened his hand and looked down at the tiny object he had been holding. It was a solitary brown seed. He placed it carefully in his pocket before entering the masjid.

They lined up for the prayer and prayed their four rak’aat of Dhuhr behind the imaam. Both of them made extra duaa in their sujood, asking Allah for his help. As Talha prayed he recited surah az Zalzala.

بِسْمِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

In the name of Allah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.

إِذَا زُلْزِلَتِ ٱلْأَرْضُ زِلْزَالَهَا

When the earth is shaken with its [final] earthquake

وَأَخْرَجَتِ ٱلْأَرْضُ أَثْقَالَهَا

And the earth discharges its burdens

وَقَالَ ٱلْإِنسَـٰنُ مَا لَهَا

And man says, “What is [wrong] with it?” –

يَوْمَئِذٍۢ تُحَدِّثُ أَخْبَارَهَا

That Day, it will report its news

بِأَنَّ رَبَّكَ أَوْحَىٰ لَهَا

Because your Lord has commanded it.

يَوْمَئِذٍۢ يَصْدُرُ ٱلنَّاسُ أَشْتَاتًۭا لِّيُرَوْا۟ أَعْمَـٰلَهُمْ

That Day, the people will depart separated [into categories] to be shown [the result of] their deeds.

فَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ خَيْرًۭا يَرَهُۥ

So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it,

وَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍۢ شَرًّۭا يَرَهُۥ

And whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it.

When the prayer was finished they went together to the imam.

“Assalaamo’alaikum Muhammad,” said Talha. “How are you today?”

The imam was calm and content as he spoke to the two farmers, but he could sense they were both worried about something.

“What is it dear friends? What is worrying you?” he asked thoughtfully.

They explained the situation with their crops and the infertile soil to him and he listened attentively.

“Do you know,” he replied. “our Rabb has used the soil as an example many times in the Qur’an. Even that which appears dead and infertile, if Allah wills for a green shoot to appear from it – it will. However, we must be patient and trust that our rizq, our sustenance, is from Allah alone and so is the rizq of all the people who usually eat the wonderful food your farm produces. We need to do two things, we need to try protect and purify the soil the best we can and we need to see what we can do to reduce the cause of the pollution by travelling to the factory today inshaAllah.”

The imam spoke to some other people in the masjid while Abdullah and Talha walked back to the factor to get their tractor. Talha took the small seed out of his pocket and held it up to show Abdullah.

He recited the last two verses of surah az Zalzala

فَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ خَيْرًۭا يَرَهُۥ

So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it,

وَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍۢ شَرًّۭا يَرَهُۥ

And whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it.

“This seed is so small,” he said gently to his friend. “It’s hard to believe that it can grow into a large crop that will feed many people inshaAllah. It is made up of millions of atoms. The verse in surah az Zalzalah says whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it. Can you imagine that Allah will reward us for any good that is even smaller than this seed?”

“It’s hard to imagine how many deeds will be visible on the Day of Judgement subhanAllah,” responded Abdullah.

They got into the green tractor together and drove back to the masjid. Then the imam joined them on the drive to the factory. As they got closer the great grey structure loomed out of the ground as though the earth itself had opened up. This reminded Talha of surah az Zalzala and he read the last two ayaat to himself again.

فَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ خَيْرًۭا يَرَهُۥ

So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it,

وَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍۢ شَرًّۭا يَرَهُۥ

And whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it.

The huge metals doors to the factory were wide open, so the foreman, who was in charge of overseeing the work done there, saw them coming. He came out to greet them as they stepped down from the tractor. Talha noticed how old and well used the tractor seemed in comparison to the shiny new interior of the factory, but it just made him feel grateful for all the good they had been able to use the tractor for, which Allah knew about.

“Hello there, gentlemen,” said the foreman with a smile. “How can I help you?”

“Oh hi…” began Talha nervously. “My name is Talha and this is Abdullah, we are both farmers and this is our friend Muhammad who is the mosque leader for our community here. We can see you are very busy here, but we would appreciate a few minutes of your time to discuss something which is affecting us all.”

The man studied his three visitors for a minute before waving them into his small side office.

“I’m Andrew,” he said, looking a little less jovial than when they had arrived. “Have we done something to upset you guys? You know we’re just here to make a living so we can look after our families just like you guys.”

“Of course, you are,” replied Abdullah. “We respect you are workers and as our neighbours. You haven’t upset us exactly…it is just that our soil needs to be fertile to grow the crops that feed our animals and our community. Unfortunately, and of course we appreciate you wouldn’t intend this, but some of the toxic waste from this factory had found it’s way into our rivers and soil and so we are struggling to grow anything this year.”

Andrew was quiet for a few moments. He stood up and looked out of the window at the busy factory before them.

“Fifteen years I’ve been working in this industry,” he told them. “Many days I wonder to myself, can I just keep pretending that what we’re doing doesn’t affect other people? I can’t. I know it does. But this is what we do. You can’t expect us to just shut down and for all these workers to loose their jobs. I’m genuinely sorry you’re crops aren’t growing but I don’t know what you’re expecting me to do.”

There was silence in the room as the three friends let all this sink in.

Then Talha begin to recite under his breath.

فَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ خَيْرًۭا يَرَهُۥ

So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it,

وَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍۢ شَرًّۭا يَرَهُۥ

And whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it.

“Excuse me?” asked Andrew, confused.

“This is a promise that we believe our Creator made to us. It’s in our Holy Book, the Qur’an. Our Lord who gave us every seed and nurtures each crop from a tiny seed into a full grown plant, He said that even if you do the tiniest bit of good, the size of an atom, then you will see the reward of that.”

He held out the seed in his hand.

“There are millions of atoms in this seed. Could you do an atom of good for us today? We’re not expecting you to shut down the factory. We would never want people to lose their jobs because of us. But please could we work together to discuss an irrigation system that will allow us to drain and clean out some of these toxic chemicals, which would involve some planning, digging, planting of trees and freezing of areas of ground?”

Andrew was startled by this offer, but he considered it quietly for a few moments.

“Alright Talha. I would like to do an atom of good today. Perhaps more than an atom. So please come back at 10am tomorrow and then once we have decided how to protect your soil…maybe you can tell me a little bit more about this Qur’an of yours. It sounds really interesting. I haven’t thought much about God since I was a child but when I see that tiny seed in your hand and think of how huge the Universe is, I really can’t deny there must be a Creator who has designed all this so perfectly.”

Filled with joy, the men shook hands and left. They returned to the masjid for the Asr salaah and all three of them quietly recited surah az Zalzala in their prayer.

بِسْمِ ٱللَّهِ ٱلرَّحْمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

In the name of Allah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.

إِذَا زُلْزِلَتِ ٱلْأَرْضُ زِلْزَالَهَا

When the earth is shaken with its [final] earthquake

وَأَخْرَجَتِ ٱلْأَرْضُ أَثْقَالَهَا

And the earth discharges its burdens

وَقَالَ ٱلْإِنسَـٰنُ مَا لَهَا

And man says, “What is [wrong] with it?” –

يَوْمَئِذٍۢ تُحَدِّثُ أَخْبَارَهَا

That Day, it will report its news

بِأَنَّ رَبَّكَ أَوْحَىٰ لَهَا

Because your Lord has commanded it.

يَوْمَئِذٍۢ يَصْدُرُ ٱلنَّاسُ أَشْتَاتًۭا لِّيُرَوْا۟ أَعْمَـٰلَهُمْ

That Day, the people will depart separated [into categories] to be shown [the result of] their deeds.

فَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍ خَيْرًۭا يَرَهُۥ

So whoever does an atom’s weight of good will see it,

وَمَن يَعْمَلْ مِثْقَالَ ذَرَّةٍۢ شَرًّۭا يَرَهُۥ

And whoever does an atom’s weight of evil will see it.