2018 Sep Class Notes by KL Female age 16

(actual note(s) from student(s)) submitted within 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 Last Sunday I learned to question the question before I answer. Instead of responding to “Are you full of BS?” with a yes or a no, I learned I must know the real meaning of the question before answering it. I also learned the value of achievement and power, and how to use those for good like Bill Gates does. Instead of making loads of money and using it for yourself, if you have the money to help make a change in the world and be selfless, you should do that. We are Khalifa of God, so our job is to be good, be good to others, and make the world good. With doing these good things, comes a drop of oil from the gallon attached to our back from birth. As we do more and more good, the oil drips out little by little.

Not only does God want us to do good, but He also wants us to pray five times a day. This is because He wants us to remember Him throughout the day, no matter how many good deeds we have or haven’t done that day. And when we do do these good things, we must also remember those who have done good for us. Mostly our parents. No one will ever pray for you like your parents do, and we should always remember that before it is too late.

Week 2 Last Sunday was my second class at the Green Stair Leadership Academy. During that class, I learned the metaphor of the “branch and tree trunk.” The metaphor is that the entire tree is religion. The tree trunk is Belief in God, which all religions have, while the branches are different religions. Off each “branch” is a smaller “branch,” which represents a different types of that religion (ex: branch from tree trunk=Christianity; smaller branch=Catholic, Protestant, etc).

Another concept I learned was how we learn from history. This means that we learn from things we’ve done or things that have happened to us in the past. For example, if you burned your hand on the stove yesterday, today you wouldn’t put your hand on the stove because you learned from history (burning it yesterday) that you shouldn’t do that.

Lastly, I learned about being God conscious. It is the concept that God doesn’t want you to pray 24/7, but rather He wants you to be conscious of Him all the time so you are aware of yourself and what you say and do.

Week 3  i last week’s class I learned the concept of living for your principals. Basically, one mustn’t only fight for what they believe in, but they must also demonstrate it. So, for example, if you say that girls must be treated equally, then you should treat girls equally to demonstrate what you say you believe in.
We also learned about the Decision Tree of Life, which is a metaphor for the choices you make in life and how they affect you.

The explanation is that God has written every variable of your life, you just have to pick which variable, or life choice, you want to make. These choices come with effects or consequences that God has also written (God knows what might happen: it’s your choice to decide whether it does or not). This also ties into physical laws— the laws/rules that God created which trigger physical events in the world. So, if you make the choice to put your hand in fire, God already knew that could’ve happened, and also knows the result of that action, which is you getting your hand burned.

Those topics also relate to the metaphor of the pen and pencil— the metaphor that states that some things in life are in pen, meaning they’re permanent and won’t be changed, while others are in pencil, which means they can be changed or controlled to go a certain way. Your birth is in pen, and can’t be erased, once you’re born, every step forward will be in pencil and you can pray for certain things to go certain ways in the future because they have to ability to be changed.

Week 4 9/10/18 Submitted 10/6 Last week, I learned the 3 Ps: Power, Poverty, and Passion. The first P, Power, means that anyone will do anything for power. The point of poverty means that everyone who can do so must help the poor/poverty-stricken. Lastly, Passion means that if you can’t control your anger, it causes problems, because you aren’t able to behave rationally. The second P of poverty ties into the next lesson– the metaphor about Socks. The metaphor is that you can buy a couple pairs of really nice socks, or you can buy a lot of normal pairs of socks and help others who are in poverty and may need socks.

I also learned about the metaphor that Heaven is a “stadium.” To get in, you must believe in God and the seats in the back are the worst. The more good/good deeds you do (the more Khalifa, praying, etc.), the closer to the front you get, the closer to God, and the more likely you are to get into Heaven. Doing these good deeds also ties in with the “Bullseye” metaphor, which explains that you shouldn’t spend your life trying to hit the bullseye (doing one huge good deed). It’s better to do a little something good everyday to ensure you’re still getting points on the board (getting closer to the front of the stadium). The other way to get closer to the front of the stadium, praying, also has a metaphor tied to it: the metaphor of Soap. The explanation of the soap metaphor is that when you shower, if you shower with soap,it will maximize the benefit of that shower, so when you pray you should do wudu and everything else relating to prayer correctly in order to maximize the benefit of that prayer.

This also connects to the “Fast&Furious” concept– that you have to pray to and ask God for the extra “Nitro” boost, like they use in the Fast & Furious movies, to do better in life. However, you have to be doing the right thing and trying your best before you ask God for help.

And, when you do ask God for help, God will be more willing to give help if you have more “S-bucks.” “S-bucks” is a metaphor used to exemplify the “points” you get for praying and remembering God. If you continuously pray to God, and remember God, then God will be more willing to give you things you ask for because you always remembered God.

Lastly, we learned the concepts of good thoughts and bad thoughts, and the idea that if you think about doing something good or do something good, you’ll get the good deeds for it, but if you think about doing something bad, you won’t get any of the sins for it. You’ll only get the sins/bad deeds if you actually do the bad thing.

Week 5 (notes of class of 10/7/18 previous week) Last week I learned that we shouldn’t do a good deed at the expense of someone else’s well-being. For example, you shouldn’t park your car in front of someone’s driveway when you go pray because there’s no spots left in the masjid parking lot. Because if it blocks the fire lane and the ambulance can’t get to them in time, that person might die because you parked your car to go do a good deed.

I also learned about the metaphor of the goat and sheep. It explains that a sheep, when being herded will continue on even when they see they’re going to get killed like those ahead of them. But, if a goat sees a sheep or another goat get killed, he’ll run away from the farm. Similarly, lots of us follow the rules, or just do what other people do instead of using our own minds to do what we know will help us. We should all strive to be more like goats in life and not just blindly follow what a person (whether or not they are influential) tells us to do.

Lastly, I learned that when you “feed your soul” by increasing your belief in God (through prayer, good deeds, etc.) you get benefits, or “S-bucks” that God recognizes when you need to ask Him for something.  “S-bucks” is a metaphor used to exemplify the “points” you get for praying and remembering God. So, the more you pray and the more you rack up these “S-bucks, the more willing God will be to give you things you ask for.

Week 6 – absent Week 6 (notes of week 5) Last class, we went to the Diwali Festival and I learned about the religions of Hinduism and Jainism, and some of the basic beliefs and principles of the two.

Those who practice Hinduism emphasize that while many outside of the religion may think they worship many gods, this isn’t the case. Hindus believe that there are many forms of the same God, and that all these forms represent the same thing. They believe that you can choose to worship God in any form that’s appropriate for someone’s age or maturity. Their focus is on worshipping God and doing your duty to your best ability; so if you are a student, you should get your studies done well while worshipping god in whichever form is most fit for you. This belief of Hinduism, in simpler terms can be explained by this quote: “What you have is God’s gift to you and what you do with what you have is your gift to God.” Using the example of the student, God’s gift to that student is the ability to read, write, and study, and the student’s gift to God would be using that ability to do well in their studies and excel as best they can in their class.

Jainism is similar to Hinduism, but not the exact same. Jainism don’t need to have an idle for God and the religion is based on science, and one example of this scientific base is the understanding of why those who practice Jainism believe they shouldn’t eat after sunset. This belief comes from the fact that if you were to eat after sunset, you would be consuming a lot more organisms than are being produced overnight because the sun isn’t out to make them grow. In simple terms, you are taking more from the earth than is being put into it, which connects to a major principle of Jainism: nonviolence. Nonviolence towards yourself, others, and all living organisms is a very important part of Jainism. They believe it is important to not only be nonviolent in your actions, but in your words in thoughts as well; you can do anything and everything in three ways: physical, speaking, or thinking about it. Those who follow Jainsim believe they’re all the same; thinking about hurting someone is just as bad as doing it, this is why nonviolence isn’t only limited to actions.

This Diwali Festival brought me lots of education about the Hindu and Jain religions, and also made me realize how many misconceptions there are about both.

Week 7 – (11/4/18) Last class, I learned the metaphor of wine to doing good deeds in life. When wine is made, there is usually many different ways to process it to get it to the juice (stamping it with feet, smashing with a tool, using machinery, etc.), but eventually the end result is the same: the wine. In the same way, one shouldn’t focus on the process of getting a large deed accomplished because eventually, they will come out with the same reward, because a good deed is just that: a good deed. This also ties in with the metaphor of the dartboard/the bullseye, which explains that you shouldn’t spend your whole life trying to achieve one enormous good deed, like ending world hunger, when you could spend it doing little good deeds throughout your entire life and end with the same amount of reward in the end.
I also learned that if you believe strongly about a topic, a situation, or anything at all, you must be educated and prepared to defend your stance to those who agree with you, but especially to those who don’t. In class, a student and Teacherji had a debate about doing the Pledge of Allegiance in everyday life and in Sunday school setting. The student didn’t support doing the pledge, but Teacherji did. While there are many people the student’s age that believe the same way they do, the student was one of the few I’ve witnessed who was able to defend his stance with substantial examples and relevant information. His argument and the contents of it was a realistic and accurate example of the concept of living for your principals that we learned a few weeks ago. The student didn’t simply say he doesn’t believe in doing the pledge, but he gave reasons why and actions he would take, which aided in explaining his stance.

Week 8 – (Notes from 11/11/18) In class this week, I learned the “3 Ps,” which are Power, Poverty, and Passion. Power is explained by the fact that everyone wants power and will do anything to get it even if it means taking advantage of those in Poverty. Poverty isn’t necessarily just economic, but those who are hungry or do not have access to good or any education. Lastly, there are two things that will get you in trouble: your mouth and your private parts. This describes Passion perfectly: those driven to say things outrageously without control because they feel strongly about it or act out a certain way because of their desires will get themselves into a lot of trouble.
Next, we learned the “3-4-5-6” concept in relation to Islam. Essentially, the Prophet said that we should try to do things in threes. Next, there are 4 Khalifas (Abubakar, Omar, Othman, and Ali) and 4 books that Allah sent down (the Quran, the Tora, the Psalms, and the Bible). We learned that there are 5 pillars to Islam that hold up the “roof” of Belief in God/Testament to faith. The five pillars are Contact with God (prayer), charity (Zakat), Fasting (to experience what those less fortunate than you must go through), pilgrimage ( to exemplify universal brotherhood), and cleanliness (cleaning your body and mind when you talk to or think about God). Lastly, the 6 stands for the 6 beliefs of Muslims: God, the Angels, the Prophets, the Books, the Day of Judgement, and the Divine Laws.
The Angels brought down the Books to the Prophets using “APS.” APS is the Angel Postal Service, a metaphor we learned in class that compares the angels delivering the Books to a mailing company like FedEx or UPS, only APS had a much more important cause. However, we learned that there is such thing as “DPS” as well—the Devil Postal Service, which was used to make the Prophet tell someone that worshipping idols was okay. The Prophet wasn’t able to tell the difference between DPS and APS because both appeared to come from “upstairs” and so he assumed the message was from the angels when it was really from Shaitan. This is one of the three instance we learned in which the mortality of the Prophet was proven. The other two were when someone tried to do witchcraft on the Prophet (which caused Al-Falaq and Al-Naas to be sent down) and when his son died, which resulted in Al-Kawthar being sent down.

Finally, we learned that concept of the “PAPA Test.” Essentially, if you are ever wondering about whether or not you should do, say, think, or wear something, you use the PAPA test: what did the Prophet say? What did Allah say? If you cannot think of what either may have said about the topic at hand, then you ask again: what did the Prophet say? What did Allah say? If Allah didn’t say anything about it, but the Prophet did, go with what the Prophet says. But, if both Allah and the Prophet have said something about it, go with what Allah says.

Week 9—Notes from 11/18/18 Submitted 11/22 In class this week, we learned about the sanctity of the Quran– that is that the Arabic version of the Quran is the only version and it is written as a guiding document. Because it is a guiding document, it was concluded that it cannot be corrupt, like Hadiths sometimes are. When something that seems to be against the basic beliefs of Muslims is written in the Quran, we have to take a moment to use CCA (Common Sense, Context, and Accountability). For example, some say that the Quran says a husband may hit his wife if she doesn’t listen to him. One must use their common sense and knowledge of the beliefs of Islam to understand the meaning of what the Quran may have really said, and ask relevant questions, like: what word did it use exactly, what was the meaning of that word at the time the Surah was sent down, etc. We know God isn’t bad and wouldn’t make us doing anything bad, so we must gather a contextual understanding of what is being said and use that to understand where God was really going with it.

Not only are there different understandings of the Quran, but there are also two different ways to understand your relationship with God, and this is the “B” or “R” concept. B stands for belief and R stands for ritual; one can either believe in God, and so they do the rituals He wants them to, or one does the rituals because eventually they’ll believe in God.

Whichever side one may fall on, there are three main reasons why anyone Muslim believes in God: science, history, and logic. Scientifically, we must all accept that there’s someone bigger than all of us—there is no way to explain the events on earth, and the creation of earth, without the acceptance of a creator. Historically, we have to look at those before us who rejected God and what happened to them, and use that to understand that we must believe; not only because we don’t want those same consequences, but because those who rejected God couldn’t have been punished to the degree they were if God wasn’t real. For example, there was a man who owned a mosque in Yemen, but the Qibla, in Mecca, was more popular and more visited than his. The man believed the only way to make his mosque more popular was to destroy the Qibla, so he took his elephants to do so, but they refused to go forward and destroy it no matter what. The man returned home with his elephants instead brought back his army to Mecca, who got a hold of 100 camels belonging to the Prophet’s grandfather. The Prophets grandfather and the man organize a meeting to “negotiate” how the Qibla will be surrendered to him (or so the man thought). Essentially, the Prophet’s grandfather takes back his camels and tells the man that the Qibla is God’s, and God will look after it, that he is in no place to “give it up” or negotiate with the man. When the man and his army begin their journey back to Yemen, birds begin to drop down stones with poison in them, killing the man and his army as they went back home. Lastly, if we read the Quran, we can see that when we read things talked about in the Quran, we can use our logic and common sense to learn from the discoveries that have been made.

For Islamic women, there are some who choose to wear hijab to express their belief. One reason they choose to wear it is because of the idea of modesty in the public eye. This idea comes from the Prophet’s wife, who lived close to where people prayed, and because of this she had to dress modestly since she was basically in the public eye at all times. The second reason women may wear hijab is because, historically, the Greeks had upper class women dressed in hijab to show they were special and could have the nice materials used to make hijabs. So, today, a woman might choose to wear hijab because of the idea of modesty that surrounds it, or because it brings a sense of importance to them.

We also learned the importance of not only being good to others, but especially being good to fellow Muslims. It is one thing to be unintentionally bad to someone, but to intentionally do it is where the trouble starts. For instance, there was a man who attempted a Muslim man (lets call him Hanaad), but didn’t succeed. Hanaad saw that man on the street a few years later and remembered who he was; Hanaad approached him and the man told him he had taken the Shahada and became Muslim, but Hanaad didn’t believe him. Hanaad killed him anyways, and the Prophet was extremely angry with this. When Hanaad himself passed, the people buried him, but the earth kept “throwing him up” and essentially refusing to keep his body in the ground. The Prophet said that Hanaad’s sin was so bad that the earth refused to take him to the Day of Judgement. This also reminds us that it is not any single person’s place to decide whether or not a person is actually Muslim; only God can do that. And even if there was proof that man wasn’t Muslim, hurting him goes against the three basic requirements of being Khalifa: being good, being good to others, and helping to make the world a better place.

Lastly, we learned that while God can be negotiable with prayer, He will never be negotiable with belief. If you forget to pray, you can always do it later and ask for forgiveness, but you cannot go back and forth with your belief in God. You can’t say you believe in Him one day but not the next because that is what is convenient for you. You must always believe in God and you can never say He doesn’t exist; this is non-negotiable, and to do either is to deny the logical, historical, and scientific proof of God.

 Week 11—Notes from 12/16/18 prepared on 12/17/18 For class this week, I was supposed to have memorized the entire prayer in English and be able to recite it, which I did successfully when I got to class.

During class this week, I learned a number of things, one of which was the importance of staying up to date with the news and knowing what is going on in the world. I learned that Poland signed the Paris treaty for environmental improvement, which moved in the direction of making the world a better place, which as we learned before is one of the jobs of Khalifa. So, by signing this treaty, Poland actually committed an Islamic act because they worked together with Paris and other countries to make the future of our earth a better and safer place to live in.

Another factoid I learned was that canaries in coal mines begin to chirp a specific song when they sense a lethal gas in the air, warning the miners to get out of the mine, like an “early bird warning.” This “warning” was compared to UK politics today and how women are coming together to help address the issue of misogyny in Islam. They have acknowledged the fact that they must speak up and make their voices heard if they want to make a change.

I also learned the value of exercising your brain daily, like those from the DC Audubon who count the number of birds in DC every week. While this may seem irrelevant to some, it is actually very important in tracking certain species and how a particular species of birds may be affected by the conditions of a certain environment. This bird counting is something these people do on their own time, away from  the required tasks of their jobs; if we can exercise our brains like this every day or even every week, we can broaden our horizons and live a longer, more enlightened and fulfilling life.

Along with challenging our brains, we should also be using our brains often, not just for school or work, but to read in our free time as well. I learned that the first direction to us from Allah was to read because that was how the Prophet (sws) learned everything he knew. Reading will  make your brain less lazy, and especially reading about things that will benefit you in life can make you a wiser, more successful person than those before you.

Lastly, we had a class conversation about Muslims participating in Christmas activities. While other Muslims might be offended by a fellow Muslim participating in Christmas-spirited things, I learned that there is a justifiable reason for one to do so. Just because you put on a Christmas sweater or wear an elf hat doesn’t make you any less of a Muslim; to participate in a Christmas activity like a sweater party is comparable to a Christian celebrating Eid with their Muslim friend; it doesn’t make them any less Christian, either.

However, if you are so tied in with your faith that you strictly believe that you must refuse to partake in other religious activities, you have to support that belief by being just as religious in other areas (i.e. praying all five prayers, fasting during Ramadan, giving Zakat, etc.). You must have balance and your reasons for doing or not doing something must be logical. This ties in with one last concept I learned in class this week– belief and logic don’t always go together.

Belief is an important concept but it defies logic (Prophets receiving verses from Angels, Prophets traveling through 7 levels of heaven, etc.). You can’t justify belief with logic but you can defend belief with logic—the stories of many prophets can’t be justified because they don’t make sense in today’s world, but you can defend your belief in these stories with the knowledge and understanding of God and any other aspects that could be used to defend why said stories are believable.

Class nte from Week 12 – 12/23/18 0 by 8k age 15

This week in class, we watched the movie Mooz-lum. The movie focused on an American-Muslim who was trying to understand what Islam meant to him after he had a brutal experience in an Islamic school at a young age.

While the movie was emotional, I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know considering I’ve lived a different but similar version of what Tariq (the main character) experienced.

However, the movie reminded me of why the Green Stairs Leadership Academy is so important. There are many Islamic Sunday schools that humiliate and degrade students, young children, for normal mistakes and normal actions any human would do. The Green Stairs Leadership Academy, however, is different. While it is tough, it is that way in order to build your confidence, and to make you into a beneficial member of the universal community. Rather than humiliating students and making them feel bad about what they can’t do, Green Stairs focuses on what students can do and what needs to be built on in a progressive way.

The movie also highlighted the fact that you shouldn’t judge another Muslim because they don’t “seem” Muslim. In the movie, Tariq didn’t pray and he drank alcohol, something his Muslim friends frowned upon. However, no one really knew what he had gone through at his young age that had made him reject Islam so strongly.

In the same way, you can’t judge a someone who says they’re Muslim but doesn’t “act like one” because you don’t know the experience they’ve had with Islam or what being Muslim means to them. Everyone is at a different point at their relationship with God and it is not up to any of us to decide whether or not that relationship is significant or genuine; it is all up to God.

Week 13—Notes from 1/6/19 by 15 yearl old

This week in class, we learned about two interesting concepts: the definition and interpretation of the word “religious” and understanding different branches of the Islamic religion (Sunni vs. Shiah Muslims).

Firstly, the word “religious” can be understood in many different ways by many different groups of people. Because of the way each individual is raised up and has experienced the world, it never means the same exact thing to anyone. For example, for some, being religious might mean praying 5 times a day and reading the Quran and coming to the masjid all the time, without worry about what else you do in your life. However, to another person, being religious could mean praying, not necessarily all the time, but being a good person, doing the right thing, and making the world a better place, because those are things Muslims are supposed to do, too.

There are levels to being religious—someone could easily come to mosque everyday but leave and go steal, kill, or hurt someone the minute they leave the mosque—so just because they prayed doesn’t make them religious because they aren’t a good person outside of that.

Being religious isn’t black and white; you can’t just pray and read Quran, but be a terrible person to those around you and call yourself religious Muslim when part of being Muslim is being a good, kind person to those around you. So, those who believe that prayer, Quran, Zakat, etc. are all it means to be religious aren’t necessarily wrong, but it does go deeper than that and there is more to being religious than just abiding by the rules laid out for your religion. And it is simple things like this that can get you in trouble on the Day of Judgement—yes you may have prayed, but then you also proceeded to steal from someone 10 minutes after, so how is that representing you as a true Muslim in any way? It doesn’t—and not only does it make you as a person look bad to those around you, but it creates an idea for non-Muslims of what Muslims might behave because you claim you are religious but you exhibit such poor behavior. You have to think of the effect of your actions not only on yourself, but on those around and the communities you are a part of.

This brings up the next thing we discussed in class: understanding the difference between the Islamic branches of Sunni and Shiah. When the Prophet was very sick before death, he said to bring Ali because he wanted to tell him something, but people thought he was delusional so no one brought Ali, so no one knows what he would’ve said—this is where the difference between Shiah and Sunni Muslims come into play. Shiahs and Sunnis disagree on what the Prophet (swt) would’ve said to Ali, his son-in-law (whether he would’ve asked him to be his successor or not).

This divide in belief cannot divide us in faith, however. Just because one branch believes something different from another, we are all still Muslim and we all still have the same values—there is no reason to disrespect or treat someone else poorly solely because they are Sunni and you are Shiah. An example of this is how some Shiah Muslims pray with a piece of rock from Karbala (the location of the Prophet’s grandson’s death). Some Sunni Muslims see this as a problem simply because they don’t understand or they interpret it differently than what it is intended to represent. Some Sunnis see it as a Shiah worshipping or praying to a stone rather than to just God, but Shiah Muslims understand it as praying in the presence of a holy place to them. Shiah Muslims should’t be judged just because they practice something that doesn’t make sense to Sunnis—the least that can be done is trying to understand each other’s perspective and points of view on certain aspects rather than bashing one another or making someone else feel bad, because that doesn’t exhibit Muslim qualities either.

Conclusively, I learned that not only should you be religious in the sense that you pray and read Quran, but also that you are being a good person— you’re not stealing, you’re kind to others, etc. Also, just because someone of a different  faith or a different branch of your faith does something you don’t understand doesn’t make them a candidate for ridicule or harassment. Rather than making others feel bad for not doing something you understand or believing the same thing you do, it is a much better idea to be a good person (1/3 qualities of Khalifas) and try to understand where they’re coming from in order to represent yourself well, not only as a person, but as a person of faith as well.

Notes from 2/24/19

This week in class, we learned about how the Quran was put together, how the Quran should be interpreted in relation to Hadiths, and a story about Islam before the Prophet’s life began. These three main topics all tie back to concepts we’ve learned in the past throughout class, but we talked more about them in depth in class this past Sunday.

Firstly, we talked about who the Quran was written by and how it was put together. The Quran was written by God, which is why it is defined as a divine book; the words come straight from God. However, it wasn’t just all dropped down onto Earth one day. The Prophet (sws) received the Quran in parts from angels and had his friends and companions copying it down as he recited it and compiling it as verses came down. Because his companions and those that were around him when the verses came down didn’t expect it, they sometimes made mistakes in the recordings. The angels would be sure to correct any mistakes made through the Prophet (sws) in this compiling so the word of God was correctly received and recorded. After the corrections were made, the old verses that were incorrectly written were deemed no longer useful and the Quran continued to be built using all these verses until the final, most accurate version which we know of today was completed.

The Quran we know today is the basis and the guide to interpreting everything; this includes Hadiths. This ties in with the concept of QHA  we learned, which stands for Quran, Hadith, and Accountability. Essentially, as we have already established, the Quran is a divine book as it is the direct word of God telling us what is wrong and right and how to go about certain situations. Because of this, we should base all of our understanding of Hadiths on the Quran, meaning that if a Hadith says something that is in contradiction with the Quran, you should always go with what the Quran says because it is the word of God whereas Hadith recorded at a certain time period to apply to a particular situation which may not be relevant in modern times anymore. However, the Quran will always be relevant regardless of the year or century because it encompasses everything that could ever apply in life throughout it. So, when reading or interpreting Hadith, we must always compare it (and everything, for that matter) back to the Quran; the base for everything. If the Hadith correctly coincides with the Quran, then the Hadith is applicable and you may use that to guide you. However, any decision made must be made with the understanding that you are Accountable for whatever you do and whatever happens; you cannot blame a mistake or a wrongdoing on the Quran or a Hadith when you had the conscience to decide whether or not you should’ve done it.

Lastly, Teacherji told us a story about the Qibla and how God protected it against people trying to destroy it for their own personal gain. There was a man who owned a mosque in Yemen, but the Qibla was more popular and more visited than his. Because jealousy and want for power, the man wanted his mosque to be more visited instead. This also connects to the concept of PPP- power, poverty, and passion, and how anyone will do anything to gain power. In this case, the man believed the only way to make his mosque more popular was to destroy the Qibla, so he took his elephants with all his men on them to do so, but the elephants refused to go forward towards Mecca and destroy the Qibla no matter what. The elephants would follow every command except ones that would make them walk towards Mecca and destroy the Qibla. The man returned home with his elephants and instead brought back his army to Mecca, who got a hold of 100 camels belonging to the Prophet’s grandfather. The Prophets grandfather and the man organized a meeting to “negotiate” how the Qibla will be surrendered to him (or so the man thought). Essentially, the Prophet’s grandfather takes back his camels and tells the man that the Qibla is God’s, and God will look after it, and that he is in no place to “give it up” or negotiate with the man. When the man and his army begin their journey back to Yemen, birds begin to drop down stones with poison in them, killing the man and his army as they went back home.

Notes from 10 March 2019

This week in class, the topic of discussion was death; the process of it, and what happens before, during, and after you die.

First, we began with reviewing that there are certain things written in pencil in your life (all the possible paths in life), but the choices you make from those given options, is the road you choose to follow and the other options get “erased” (they are no longer a path you can take in life).

After this, we began discussing death and what happens at each stage of it. When your body dies, your soul hovers above it, and your body remains on earth. The body gets taken and washed, and in Islam, coffins aren’t used— the cheapest available cloth is used to wrap the person up and take them away. In the United States, the body gets put in a freezer at the morgue, but in Islamic practices, they are put in the family’s home and have Quran read around them. Normally, in Islam, the people of the community pick up the body and give the body to the immediate family of the deceased to put it in the grave and have the body face the Qibla. In the United States, when someone dies, there is a wake, a funeral, and many services which Muslims don’t have, so American funerals tend to be more expensive. This connects to funeral etiquette: when someone passes, you should show your respects and leave at a funeral. You shouldn’t expect to be fed by the family; you should become part of the kitchen and help them out, as they are grieving. And because some funerals are more expensive then others, you should give money to the grieving family as well, so they can pay for a funeral or donate it to the funeral fund to help others pay for funerals.

While your body stays on earth throughout this portion, your soul leaves and is asked three questions, which only your soul can answer. Your fate is decided after your soul has answered these questions, but there are exceptions to how “comfortable” one will be in the afterlife: if the deceased gave education to others which lives on after their death, they have increased the amount of good deeds that will weigh against the bad when their fate is being decided. All the good and bad things in your life are weighed and your fate is determined based on which outweighs which. However, if you do something bad to someone, the only one who can forgive you and “remove” that bad deed (and in turn, change your fate) is them.

After the discussion of death, we analyzed Surah Ikhlas— we talked about the meaning and background of the surah. Essentially, the surah is about the Prophet telling the Jewish and Christian people of his time that there is only one God, God has existed forever, no one can impersonate God, and God has no family and is no one’s family. After analyzing the surah, we discussed how despite the clarity of the Quran, it can be interpreted differently by many different people, but regardless it’s a source of guidance. Everyone has to use their own common sense and accountability to take over from there in order to understand what God tells us through the Quran.

Notes from 17 March 2019—turned in on 17 March 2019

KL: 16y/o female

This week, I arrived in class on time and was supposed to bring the entire prayer in Arabic and English memorized, which I did.

After testing out, we began class discussion about the New Zealand shooting at a mosque this past Friday. We talked about how the attack not only affected the Muslims in New Zealand who lost their lives or lost family members, but also Muslims around the world. The senator of Australia made a statement which blamed the attack on Muslims, citing them as the true perpetrators of violence and terrorism, even when they were the true victims in this situation. Because such a widely recognized figure would openly say these things, it allows for everyday people to spew this hate as well. It creates the idea that islamophobia is acceptable in this day and age, and puts visibly Muslim men and women in danger. Because of this, many Muslim men will shave off their beards, or not wear their caps or anything that makes them look visibly Muslim. Even men who don’t practice Islam but are Sikh or Arab, they will make sure they don’t look visibly Muslim in order to protect themselves from islamophobic attacks that come after these tragedies. However, women aren’t granted this same luxury; most Muslim women aren’t able to just remove their hijab due to cultural reasons. Because of this, they are typically the target of attacks by people who support the same viewpoint of the senator of Australia. We acknowledged how this was an issue, and discussed how it could be solved or made better. Essentially, we concluded that women shouldn’t be the ones to take all the hate and beatings when things like this happen—they shouldn’t be the only ones who are visibly Muslim. If a Muslim man and woman were to go grocery shopping and someone was feeling like they had to harm a Muslim after one of these attacks, the woman would typically be the target because she is obviously Muslim with her hijab. However, if the man she was with were to wear his prayer cap and keep his beard, identifying him as Muslim, too, it would ensure that the woman isn’t the only one getting hurt by these attackers.

After this discussion, we analyzed verse 282 from Surah Baqarah and discussed the origin and background of it. The verse basically says that if you are going to make a business deal with someone, it should always be in writing in order to ensure that the deal goes through and both parties keep up their end of the deal. This verse came down because the Prophet had once asked a merchant in the desert to buy his horse, and the merchant agreed and proposed a price, which the Prophet agreed to pay. The Prophet told the merchant to follow him back to his house to collect the money, so the two began walking, but the merchant fell behind as his horse had to stop to drink water and do horse things. Because the merchant was out of the Prophet’s earshot during the trek to his house, people along the way saw the horse and proposed a better price for the horse, which the merchant accepted. So, when the merchant and the Prophet both arrived at the Prophet’s house, the merchant told him he would have to pay a higher price for the horse or he would sell it to someone else. The Prophet was confused; he thought they had already agreed upon a price for the horse, but the merchant disagreed. The merchant claimed that he never agreed upon a price because he never swore by God upon the price that the Prophet proposed. The purpose of this verse is to say that whenever there is a loan transaction for a specific period of time, it must be formally written down and both the lender and debtor must trust the writer.

From these discussions in class, I learned that while Muslims aren’t to blame in situations like this where we are clearly the victims, we still must do what we can to protect one another when we are all in danger. I also learned that no matter how small, all agreements or transactions should be certified with a written contract and both parties should agree upon the conditions of the contract so that no one can switch what they said.

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