2018/9 Class Notes by HL age 13 – (actual note(s) from student(s)) updated weekly
(actual note(s) from student(s)) submitted withing one week of class – Start date Sep 2018
(These notes are mostly unedited and represent a GISLA students understanding of the previous class the attended.) Student attend class on Sunday and submit their essay of what they learnt before the next class. Interestingly, as can be seen below the same class yields different lessons for each student even though the content of the class they hear was the same.)
Students graduate level 1 IF and WHEN they pass the Level one exam (some do it in 6 weeks and some take 3 years and counting…) and students from anywhere in the world can test out to pass and earn the GISLA Level one trophy)
Week 1 – This week I took my second class in the Green Stairs Leadership Academy Program and was able to understand more what happens in the class every week.
This week I was tested for my homework assignment which was to memorize Surah Fatiha in English. Now I have no idea of this is something that happens every week, but I basically just stalled for the the first 15 minutes and we didn’t end up reciting what we memorized for the first hour or so. The first thing that we talked about was how doctors and lawyers are able to retain information more easily because they went to school for so long, that they can retain information easily now.
week 2: This week at the Green Stairs Leadership Academy I built upon some of the concepts that I had learned earlier in the year and learned some new concepts as well. At the beginning of class all the students were tested on what they had memorized of the Islamic Prayer in Arabic and English and were given assignments on what to memorize next week.
Week 3: This week I took my third class in the Green Stairs Leadership Academy and I will say that I think that I could list what we do in each class in order.
First we always start the class with saying the pledge of allegiance in class along with the shahadah and after that we pray 2 cycles of practice prayer or Fajr if we haven’t already. After that we typically have a discussion and start to recite our homework.
Last class our general discussion was about an acronym the teacher made up called CCA, common sense applied. It literally is what it says. You need to apply you’re basic prior knowledge to where it is applicable. We also learned a concept which essentially said that it is easier to fight for your principles than to live for them. People will always protest for Islam, but will never go to Jummah prayer.
The last concept that we learned this week was the pen and pencil concept. Some parts of your life are written in permanent ink (destined to happen) and other parts of your life are pencil and can be positively or negatively affected by your actions.
After we recited our homework the teacher had to leave and the TAs stepped up to teach the class. We learned some of the 60+ topics that the teacher had written on the board and took notes. One of the stories we learned about was how Prophet Muhammad (S) once fell asleep with his caravan and was taken to heaven by a flying donkey. When the donkey came to pick him up, it stopped in Juresalem at the Masjid. He then visited the seven levels of heaven and met all the angels and prophets. Gabriel said that only Prophet Muhammad(S) was allowed to go to the seventh level and he went there himself. The concept for this story was APS, which stands for Angel Parcel Service. Angel Gabriel was in charge of sending down revelations of God and retired once they were all sent down.
Another concept we learned about from the TAs was socks. The main idea is, you could have a couple of really nice socks, or you could have a lot of average socks and also help other people have socks. We also learned about the 6 Cardinal beliefs that all Muslims and people of God should have. Belief in God, Angels, Prophets, Day of Judgement, books sent by God, and the Divine Laws. Another concept that we learned was bullseye. Many people try to hit the bullseye on life by doing one good deed, but it is more efficient to go for the easier points. We also talked about how good thoughts, even if you don’t end up doing them, still count as good deeds, while bad thoughts don’t count as sins unless you perform them.
Week 5: Notes from last week class of 10/14/18 This week in the Green Stairs Academy we took a field trip to a Hindu Diwali celebration to learn more about the Hindu religion. The basis of Hinduism is that it is a religion of one God. Hinduism is a religion of one God with many manifestations. If the stories of one of the manifestations speaks out to you, then you can choose to worship that manifestation. I spoke to Mr. Mehta of jainism Society of Metropolitan Washington and he gave me some of the basics along with the details of Hinduism. Similarly to Muslims, Hindus also fast, but it is slightly different. Their fast starts in the morning, and lasts for the next 24 hours. They can drink water, but the water must be boiled before consumption.
Week of Oct 28, 2018 This week in the Green Stairs Academy class we welcomed two new students and basically showed them how the class usually goes along with some of the usual memorization, and random talk that we have throughout the class. One of the main unanswered questions from last class that sticks out to me is why poop is brown, I honestly don’t know and will probably google it right after writing this essay. He also asked us an important question: what scares you? He didn’t want a generic answer like “not living up to my full potential” or “being a failure” he wanted everyday things such as spiders or the dark. A, who was one of the new students asked a very important question, “why don’t things such as Moses splitting the ocean happen anymore?” and Teacher’s answer was: things such as that don’t happen anymore because essentially, we are nearing the end of the show based on the signs we are seeing,”
We also talked about how most if not all of Islam, is simply common sense. One of the hadiths that doesn’t apply anymore was “always check your shoe for scorpions” which was just common sense at the time. We also revisited the “gallon of oil” concept which is essentially a concept that says that you have a metaphorical gallon of oil stuck to your back when you are born, and it goes to the after-life with you. Every time you do a good deed, one drop is taken away, every time you do a bad deed, one drop is added. The goal is to have the least amount of oil in your gallon by the end of your life. If you have a lot of oil, since oil is a very flammable fluid, the oil will make you burn in hell. We also talked about how every time you diss someone in your life and unresolve it, you get a $5 chit on you and if you don’t have enough money, you can’t get into heaven. We also talked about MBA, which stands for Moderation, balance, and accountability. Which means that you should have moderation and balance in your life, and you are also accountable for everything that you do.
notes for Week of November 4, 2018 submitted a week after This week in the Green Stairs Leadership Academy, we reviewed some concepts and tested out for the most part, and had many side discussions as we usually do. What was different though, was what we did at the beginning of class. If you haven’t heard, there was recently a shooting in a synagogue in Pittsburgh about two weeks ago. A deranged man (most likely anti-semitic or just someone on a crazy bloodthirsty murder hunt) shot up a synagogue and killed 11 people, including a couple that was married in that very Synagogue in 1956.
We were planning on going to visit a nearby synagogue that day, but unfortunately, we weren’t able to because of scheduling issues. We were going to go and offer our condolences as well as hand them our letters that we wrote to the entire Jewish community, but insead the teacher just sent them to some of the local synagogues and hopefully we could go next week to offer our condolences. For the rest of class we just tested out and talked about random topics as usual.
Week of November 11,
This week in the Green Stairs Leadership Academy program, a large portion of our class was spent on a debate. After I walked in, I noticed that the chairs were set up with half of them on one side, and half on the other. The previous class a student named R, the teacher, and a student named B had a debate about whether the pledge of allegiance is morally correct or not.
Unlike this week’s debate, this was not planned, it came up when teacher was telling the class who would lead the pledge of allegiance next week. The student named R had then pointed out how many corporations along with the US government are supporting Israel against Palestine. This week’s debate involved the whole class, teacher split us into two parts so we wouldn’t have a bias in our discussion and only be supporting the side we were on.
After the debate we had a usual class. We ate pizza, reviewed some concepts, and we also had a generally random discussion as we usually do. One of our concepts was how teacher spells God with four letters, G O O D. Because God is good. And if you find something being said about Islam that is something bad, for example some people say that there are Quranic verses telling people to do bad things, so if it isn’t good, it probably isn’t God either, because God is good.
We also talked about the meaning of Surah Kawther. Prophet had a baby with one of his wives and he loved the baby very much. When the baby was only six months old, the baby died. What do you think the Prophet did? Do you think he prayed to Allah more and fasted more and gave more zakat? No he cried like a baby. Then God sent down what we know today as Surah Kawther. The translation is: ‘O prophet, indeed we have granted you the fountain of abundance. So offer your prayer and sacrifices to God only. It will indeed be your enemy who is cut off from future hope. This Surah (chapter of the Quran) was telling Muhammed (S) to stop crying and be strong. This was one occasion where the Prophet was proved human.
notes for class of Week 12, Week of 11/18 submitted 11/21 This week after I walked into class and said Salam, I led the pledge of allegiance and we reviewed our homework and tested out while we waited for some of the students to arrive.
Once we tested out the teacher read some English translations of the Qur’an. The first surah (chapter) that we read was Surah Fil (The chapter of the elephant). Before I explain it the way the teacher explained it to us, let me give some background information. The Pharaoh had taken over Yemen but was still jealous that more people were moving to Makkah than to his country. His solution was to take an army of elephants and attack Makkah, more specifically the Ka’bah. When he told the elephants to attack, they didn’t move. He bribed them with carrots and food, but they still didn’t move. When he told them to retreat, they started moving backwards. The teacher compared Pharaoh’s land to Kmart, and Makkah to Walmart. Kmart was doing all they could to get people to come to their store, but people still preferred to go to Makkah. It was as if Kmart decided to blow up Walmart. While Pharaoh was trying to get the elephants to attack, a flock of birds came in with clay stones and threw them at Pharaoh and his army. The stones had some sort of pestilence on them and Pharaoh along with his army got sick with leprosy and their fingers began to fall off. So, Kmart ended up getting burned in the end for having bad intentions.
After that story we reviewed some concepts that were like the ‘God is good’ concept from last class and teacher taught us something that was obvious, just something that I had never thought of. He showed us a newspaper article that essentially said that Atheists accept the concept of God because even when arguing against it, they are still acknowledging a higher power of some kind and acknowledging the concept. He also put some of the ayahs that people like to use to ‘prove’ that Islam is a hateful religion. He brought up how Arabic to English translations are often not accurate and the word ‘hit’ and the ‘tap’ when used in Quranic Arabic can be very difficult to translate. The ayah that says “Hit your wife if she’s not listening to you” likely means “She is the wife of the Prophet, so she must stay at a higher status than the rest of the women. If she does not do that tap her lightly on the shoulder,” everything needs to be put into context.
We also talked about a story of a man in Muhammad (S)’s time who killed a man. In the Qur’an it says that a Muslim shouldn’t kill another Muslim. Before he killed the man, the man who was about to be killed stated that he had accepted the Shahadah, the killer didn’t believe him and decided to kill him anyway. When the Prophet found out, he was very mad and said “Who are you to judge him on whether he had accepted Shahadah or not? That is between him and God,” Once the killer had died, when they buried him, the earth rejected the body and threw it outside of his grave. They kept re-burying him and the earth rejected him. They eventually had to throw his body into a ditch somewhere in the wild.