In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Giver of Mercy

In the aftermath of heartbreaking events that involve the loss and injury of innocent lives, the believing child will seek spiritual guidance about how to understand tragic events and how to reconcile their occurrences with their instinctual knowledge of Allah’s Mercy, Love and Kindness and with what they have learnt about the purpose of life. The natural place for him/her to seek this explanation from after parents is the Madrassah that they attend.

Hence, a lesson outline has been put together to assist teachers in the delivery of necessary concepts and knowledge which aims to empower the child with the understanding that will strengthen their Iman and inspire them to be positive and proactive.

The Islamic content has been taken from Sheikh Muhammed Ratib Al-Nabulsi and Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan.

It is important that the teacher is sensitive towards children who have suffered tragic losses and should be very empathetic and careful in her/his delivery of the content. Additionally, the teacher should ensure that the content is age-appropriate; the younger the children, the less explicit references to tragedies should be.

The content of this outline can be taught in two or three 2 hour long lessons, or can be taught as day workshop dedicated to this topic.

Learning Outcomes:

  1. Understand why tragic events happen and how to deal with them

Starter:

  1. Illicit a tragic event that has been on the headlines and discuss key information with the students.
  2. In pairs and then feeding back to the rest of the class, students discuss what they think may be the relevance of discussing the topic of a tragic event in an Islamic class.
  3. Select the right answers (how a believer understands and deals with tragic events) and copy the learning objectives on the board.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Learn the word used for ‘tragedy’ in the Quran and its significance
  2. Understand the types of tragic events and how to deal with each

Activity 1

The aim of this activity is to help learners realise that tragic events and calamities are of three types: ones we have no control over, such as natural disasters; ones that are self-caused, such as illness resulting from unhealthy diet and ones caused by other people to us, such as as crimes.

Divide students into groups and give each group a set of six cards. On each card there is a summary of a tragic event. Ask various students to take turns to read out the cards.

Next, give students 7 minutes and ask them to divide the tragic events into three groups using their rationale. To make the activity harder, do not specify the number of categories. To make the activity easier write out the categories on the board and ask the students to match the tragic events to them.

Go around the class to see what students come up with. With the whole class, illicit the following 3 categories and write them on the board:

  1. Tragic events that people had no control over
  2. Tragic events that people had control over
  3. Tragic events brought about by people against people

Using blue tack, students come up and stick the story cards near the correct category.

Next, divide the class into pairs. Assign each pair a number out of 3. Each pair will write a short story about a calamity that belongs to the category type that corresponds with the number they have been assigned.

After 10 minutes, ask students to share their stories and ask the class if they agree that it is a good example of the calamity type they have been assigned.

Activity 2

By teaching the word used in the Quran for ‘calamity’; ‘مصيبة’, the student learns that all calamity types are predestined by the All Knowing and Wise Creator, Allah Almighty. This information is linked to prior knowledge of the sixth pillar of Iman- belief in the Qadar, decree of Allah. The child also learns briefly about the benefits of believing in this pillar.

Write the word مصيبة on the board and ask students to read it and guess the meaning using the context of the lesson (‘tragedy/calamity’).

Explain the following in a level and age appropriate way:

  • It comes from the root word أصاب, which means to hit a target
  • مصيبة – means when something hits you and hits you exactly where it was supposed to hit.
  • Allah Almighty uses this word in the Quran when speaking of calamities or tragedies.
  • As far as the planning of Allah was concerned, each tragedy that hits you is like an arrow that was shot and it was supposed to hit you exactly when, where, how, how deep and how badly.
  • It was all decided and it was a perfect hit, it could have never missed.

Ask students to tell you which pillar this belief relates to:

  • The sixth pillar of Iman- Iman in the ‘Qadar’ (everything and anything that happens, whether good or evil, is a result of an order put in place by Allah)

To assess for learning, take 3 of the stories presented in activity 1, take one at a time and ask class and individuals:

  • ‘This incident is a tragedy. What is the name for a tragedy in the Quran?’ (illicit ‘مصيبة’)
  • ‘Do we believe that even this bad incident was a result of a Wise order made by the Creator?’ (illicit ‘yes’)
  • ‘What is the name in Arabic for believing that everything and anything that happens, whether good or evil, is a result of an order made by Allah?’ (illicit ‘Iman in Qadar’)

Next give out this handout (which contains four benefits of Iman in Qadar) to the class. Ask students to read it quietly. After 7-10 minutes, ask them to select 1 point they understood and explain it to the person sitting next to them. They may put their hand up to ask any related questions.

Finally, ask students to write a letter to reassure Sumaya (whose story is presented in activity 1) using one or more information learned about the benefits of believing in Qadar.

Activity 3

The aim of this activity is to help learners understand that while believing firmly in the Qadar of Allah, the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him advise us to deal differently with each type of calamity. Students also learn that calamities can be dealt with emotionally, physically and intellectually.

Explain to children that while we believe in Qadar, we also believe that we are responsible for our actions because we can choose to do good or bad. Ask them to tell you a story where the tragic event was self-caused or caused by other people.

Before class, select one story per calamity type from activity 1. All together there should be 3 stories. Copy each story in the centre of a separate large A3/A2 sheet. Draw a bubble around the text. Then draw three bubbles extending from it. Label one bubble ’emotions’, the second ‘physical’, the third ‘thoughts’.

Divide the class into three groups, and give each group one of the three A3/A2 sheets. Tell them to imagine that the people in the tragic stories were their friends then put down ideas about the following:

  • Emotionally- how can your friends feel better about their situation.
  • Physically– what can your friends do or say to improve their situation.
  • Thoughts– what thoughts will help your friends think positively about their situation.

Give them 6 minutes, then circulate the papers around until all students had had a go at adding to all three sheets.

Stick the papers on the board and ask each group to read out the ideas for the sheet they started out with.

Use this resource to enrich the discussion.

Subsequently, use this quiz to assess for learning. Ask students to work in pairs and then do the activity as a class.

Finally, assign a story from Activity 1 handout to each individual and ask them to write a character diary entry explaining:

  • What happened to the character and how they felt
  • What they think about what has happened to them
  • Which type of calamity type it falls under
  • How it is a مصيبة
  • How their belief in Qadar helps them
  • What they will do or say to help improve their situation

Encourage them to plan their writing and work in pairs. Go round the class to help individuals with difficulties.

Plenary

Plenaries help learners connect the information they learnt throughout the lesson by summarising and reviewing key points and identifying any gaps in their learning.

Use this Plenary Pyramid to help your learners consolidate what they have learned.