Let The Stars Show You The Way!

Image Credit: kamuelaboy (Morguefile.com)

Assalaamu’alaikum dear readers!

Hope everyone had a fun, wonderful Eid with your loved ones :). I know we’re all missing Ramadan dearly, so may Allah ‘azza wa jall grant us the patience and persistence to continue doing the good deeds we did during Ramadan.

Alhamdulillah, after quite a long break, Gems for Juniors is now back with our precious (and I hope long-awaited!) Quranic gems.

Before we get into our Quranic gem, let me ask you this: does your family like traveling? Well, mine certainly does!

I don’t know about you, but I think part of the fun when traveling is searching for directions – figuring out where we are, learning about the route we’re taking, and knowing the exact location of our destination (and, well…maybe getting lost along the way, once in a while, hehe). My eldest child has always been interested in maps, signboards and finding directions too.

Nowadays, technology has made finding direction to your destination a breeze. Even our small children know how GPS technology works. But next time you and your family go on a trip, ask your children this: have they ever thought about how people in the past, many many centuries ago, find their direction? Or, what if they got lost in the dark? Not only there was no GPS, there was no compass and probably no maps to guide them either!

Now, this brings us to our first post-Ramadan gem! 🙂

It is He Who has made the stars for you, that you may guide yourselves, with their help, through the dark spaces of land and sea. We detail Our signs for people who think.” (Al-An’aam:97)

SubhaanAllah. Isn’t that just cool?

Long, long ago, travelers on land and on sea relied on stars to know where they were and where they were going, by using certain measurement techniques. That was how they avoided getting lost in the huge desert or in the middle of the ocean. This method is known as “celestial navigation”. It was mostly used by sailors.

A “constellation” is a group of stars that appear to form a certain pattern in the sky. Recognizing these patterns make it easier to spot the stars and use them for navigation. One star that is often used as a reference point is Polaris, also known as the North Star.

You will find a link below that you and your children can refer to for further reading on this topic. It’s pretty interesting, mashaAllah.

Now after learning about this, spend a brief moment with your children to ponder and reflect. Tell them that the amazing beauty they see in the sky is none other than Allah’s brilliant design. Allah is the One that gives the shape and beauty in His creation.

Activities:

  • Encourage your children to develop a habit of saying “Subhaanallah” to express their awe when looking at Allah’s creation.
  • Learn about one of the beautiful Names of Allah, Al-Musawwir. Find out what it means and the lessons that we can learn from this particular name of Allah. Relate it with what your children have previously learned about stars and other objects in the sky.
  • Choose a night to do star gazing with your family. Let you children observe the sky and see it moving! You don’t even need expensive stargazing equipment to do this.
  • Print a sky map (available at http://www.kidsastronomy.com/astroskymap/constellations.htm) and put it up on the wall in your children’s room or the study.
  • Explore the history of navigation in detail here. The page details the background of navigation, starting from the earliest method used until the invention of the Global Positioning System (GPS). I would recommend this reading for older kids.

Even with the advanced technology that is available today, I would say it’s definitely a lot more fun to navigate using the stars, don’t you think? Happy star-gazing! 🙂

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