Dear brothers and sisters rahimakumullah,
In Surah Al-Furqaan of the Qur’an, Allah SWT teaches us a very beautiful supplication, du’aa, that He wants us to ask Him with. He says:
“wal ladzeena yaquluuna rabbanaa hablanaa min azwaajinaa wa dzurriyyaatinaa qurrata a’yunin, waj’alnaa lil muttaqeena imamaa..”
which approximately translates:
“ …and those who say: O, our Master, grant us from our spouses and our children ‘the coolness of eyes’ and make us leaders over those who are righteous, pious, and fearful”.
So here we are taught to ask Allah SWT to turn our spouse and our children to ‘the coolness of our eyes’. And this expression, qurrata a’yun or the coolness of eyes is the expression that I’d like to share with you in this khutbah, inshaallah.
Dear brothers and sister, rahimakumullah,
We need to take a little bit deeper look so as to appreciate what Allah SWT is saying, when He teaches us to ask Him turn our families into the coolness of our eyes. What does that mean, anyway? What does that mean for your eyes to become cool? To better understand this phrase, let us travel to pre-Islamic Arabia. The Arabs used to use expressions among each other, and then Allah SWT uses those expressions in the Quran, including this one, qurrata a’yun. Related to this, the Arabs of that time had two things to say, either somebody’s eyes have become cool or they have become warm. To give it some context, one of the worst curses an Arab would say against somebody else was “May Allah make his eyes warm, adkhanallahu ‘ainahu”. This is one of the worst curses that they uttered. In English this is equivalent to say, may he suffer the worst kind of sorrow and sadness and depression, or may he shed tears of sorrow. The exact opposite of this expression is of course when he said may your eyes become cool, may you shed the tears of joy. So qurrata a’yun is used to express tears of joy. This is one thing.
There is another thing about qurrata a’yun. The Arabs used to travel in the deserts, and frequently they were hit by storm during the travel. Allah SWT created the camels, their vehicle, in a special way that its eyelids actually have a screen that trap sands and don’t let it touch the eye. It drops it down and the camel doesn’t even have to blink, subhanallah. But its rider doesn’t have this security system. In the middle of a sand storm, he could only cover up his face but his eyes were being pounded time and again by the sand. And he couldn’t even cover his eyes because it would cause him to lose his direction. So if finally he found a cave for some refuge, when he finally got in there he would say poetically, “my eyes have finally become cool, “qorrata ‘ainayya”. What that expresses is that he finally finds refuge from the storm.
So, as far as ancient Arab is concerned, two things have to do with coolness of the eyes. The first one is about shedding tears of joy, being so happy that you move to tears, and secondly, it’s about finding refuge, finding some kind of safety. Now with this ayaat Allah teaches us to ask Him, to make our spouse and our children a means of coolness of our eyes. What does that mean? That means that we should be so happy with our spouse, the husband should be so happy with the wife and vice versa, the wife should be very happy with the husband. The parents should be so happy with the children, that upon just seeing them they are moved to tears of happiness. They should be that happy with their family.
It also means that the outside world when you go to work, when you go out for earning your living, or for your education, or for whatever reason, the outside world is like a storm. But when you come home, you finally find your refuge; you meet with the coolness of your eyes when you enter the house.
Dear brothers and sisters, this I believe is a particularly relevant du’a for us today but also an ironic du’aa, because for many people today, muslim or non-muslim, the storm now is not outside the house. But rather, rhe storm is inside the house. People cool their eyes not inside their house but outside the home. They come home, and yelling and screaming begin but when they go out they smile in happiness. So dear brothers and sisters, we seek protection to Allah SWT from this situation, and ask Him, may He turn our family to the coolness of our eyes. Ameen.
Dear brohters and sister, ghafarakumullah,
This expression ‘the coolness of eyes’, also appears in other places in the Quran. The Qur’an narrates that ‘Asiah, the wife of Fir’aun, was one of the women who had a very problematic relationship, because she married the worst kind of man that ever lived. The Qur’an even testifies that she at least suffered from psychological abuse, which might be even worse than physical abuse, and she found no place to run. She could not report the domestic abuse to the authority obviously, because her husband was the government himself. So much so that the only place she could turn to was Allah SWT, and she said radhiyallahu anha: “wa najjinee min fir’auna wa ‘amalihi, rescue me (O, Lord) from Fir’aun and the things that he does” (QS At Tahrim). So she’s clearly in a kind of storm that made her eyes warm. And when one day she saw baby Musa AS washed up in the river, she picked him up, and said: “qurratu ‘ainil-lii wa lak”, may this baby become the coolness of my eyes and yours, referring to Fir’aun her husband.
Coolness for her eyes, because after finding herself in a very depressing situation, the rest of her life was there to warm her eyes, now she finally found the coolness of her eyes, she finally found a refuge, an escape. But the baby was also the coolness of Fir’aun’s eyes. Fir’aun was a genocidal maniac, he had been killing babies for years in Egypt, and the presence of baby Musa AS in his circle was enough to calm down his madness. This was a special quality that Allah SWT gave to Musa AS, and He said “wa alqaitu ‘alayka mahabbatan minnii” I have thrown upon you a special love, mahabbah, from Me.
Allah SWT even made baby Musa AS as the coolness of eyes for his original mother. Allah arranged a strategy to reintroduce Musa AS with his mother, a mother who had to put her baby in the water so to save him from slaughter. You can surely imagine the feeling of a mother when she was putting her baby into the water. Her eyes surely became “warm” because of this. So when Allah SWT reintroduced Musa AS with this woman, his real mother, He said using the same expression: faraja’naaka ilaa ummik, kaitaqarra ‘ainuhaa wa laa tahzan, so We returned you to your mother so her eyes could become cool. She cried a tear of joy. Now inshaallah we begin to appreciate how deep and powerful this expression is: qurrata a’yun.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Beloved Nabi Muhammad SAW also said this powerful expression in a hadith. But before we go to the hadith, we need to realize one thing about the noble messengers of Allah SWT. Each one of them, may peace be upon them all, had to converse in two ways. One way was with his people, inviting them to the Truth, and the other way was with Allah SWT. Conversing with his people was not at all an easy task. It’s full of challenges. Apart from acceptance of some of his people, in many more cases he must face multiple times of rejection and tons and tons of insults.
All of you are respectable people, and of course we do not enjoy being insulted and ridiculed. When you’re among you’re co-workers for example, you expect to be treated with respect. But imagine if one of your colleagues comes up to you and starts cursing you out and your family, and accuses you and calls you a liar, and all kinds of bad names. How would you feel? What would happen to you? You would shut down mentally! Because when bad words are used against respectable people, they hurt them a lot. They wear down on them, the words burn them. This also happened with the noble messengers of Allah SWT. So when they communicate with their people their eyes necessarily became warm. Moreover, they had to speak to the same people, their own nation, time and again. But when they communicate with Allah SWT, it is there that their eyes became cool again.
Provided this context, now we could understand that Nabi Muhammad SAW said in a hadith: “ju’ilat qurratu ‘ainayya fis-shalaah” the coolness of my eyes is placed in shalat, meaning when I (SAW) converse with my Lord in shalah, my eyes become cool, I shed tears of joy, I regain my strength, I revitalize and re-energize. And with this renewed strength he came back to his people again SAW, talked to them again, invited them to the Truth tirelessly, and this consequently made his eyes warm again. And what he came back to was the shalah, he re-energized again with shalah. So the shalah is the refuge of the Messenger SAW from the strom. Compare this with the previous story of a mother who had her baby back in her arm after she lost him, and Allah says that her eyes have now become cool. Nabi SAW perceived that same coolness of the eyes when he made shalaat.
Brothers and sisters, let us compare that shalaah with your shalaah and my shalaah, and ask: what has happened since then? Perhaps for some of us, and particularly for myself, shalaah has become an obstacle in our day and a kind of hampering our schedule. No more happiness and tears of joy out of it. Our minds are even sometimes still with our work when we’re making shalaah. Now alhamdulillah we’re reminded that our shalah is supposed to be something that helps us. And it’s supposed to be something that cools our eyes, ju’ilat qurratu ‘ainayya fis-shalah. That’s what shalah is supposed to be.
May Allah SWT give us an appreciation of the legacy of all His messengers, particularly of the sunnah of the Messenger SAW, and especially of shalaah. May Allah SWT give us the coolness of our eyes in our spouses and children. Rabbana hablana min azwajinaa wa dzurriyyaatinaa qurrata a’yunin. Waj’alnaa lil muttaqiina imaamaa. Barakallahu li wa lakum.