2020 August 30 – HH – female age 16 – Class Notes
This was our first class of this school year, so we had a little potluck. At the beginning of class, we organized our teacher’s old bookshelves into his new ones. After this we sat in a circle and we began today’s lecture topic. The day before happened to be Ashura, an important day for Muslims. The origin of Ashura was a celebration first practiced by Jewish people in memory of Prophet Musa saving them. When Prophet Muhammed heard of this, he knew that the Muslim people also needed to have a celebration of this day. It was then proposed that in honor of Ashura, Muslims would fast for two days. Around 60 or so years after the passing of the Prophet Muhammed, there emerged another reason for fasting on Ashura, but this occasion was no celebration. Instead it was a commemoration of the death of Ali and Hussein. I will try to tell the story in the best detail from what I can remember. When Ali became the caliphate, Muawiya, the son of Usman, decided that he wanted to take back the caliphate in honor of his father, who was killed while serving as the 3rd caliphate. Muawiya and Aziz, his son, then killed, I believe Ali, Hussein, and later, Hassan, ensuring his stake to the caliphate. This day is important both to Shia Muslims and Sunni Muslims, although they choose to commemorate it differently. It is said that on Ashura, if you fast, that your sins will be completely wiped away. Now scholars disagree on the “completely” part, but if I remember correctly, the sins that are forgiven are those we commit against God. These are things such as missing a prayer or not making up fasts from a year before, or anything along those lines. Ashura does not wipe away the sins we commit against other people, such as being mean, stealing, and lying.
Next, we when on to review our prayer in English and learn new content. I must learn the translation of Ayat Al Kursi, as well as read the last couple of ayas of Surah Al Baqarah. After this we went over a couple of concepts. Concepts are most commonly, similes made between common objects and Islamic topics we need to learn. Other times concepts are acronyms. Today’s concepts were BS, CCA, and PAPA. BS stands for belief in sincerity. It’s a common trick my teacher plays on the new students, asking them, “Are you full of BS?” To me, before I started this class, I said no, because well, when I think of BS, I think of you know. But that’s not what it stands for in out class. The next topic we went over was CCA, which stands for Context, Common sense, and Accountability. These three phrases make up key parts of Islam. Many of the teachings of Islam especially in the Quran and hadiths, must be looked at through the context of the situation in which the aya or hadith was needed. The next part, common sense, refers to the overall teaching in Islam, many of them resemble that of what we think of as common sense. It also refers to the need to use common sense in out everyday life. And finally, accountability. Islam is a religion where we are all held accountable for our actions. No other person: our parents, our siblings, our future children and spouses, none of them are responsible for our actions, just as we are not responsible for theirs. The last concept we went over was the one of PAPA. This concept was named after our teacher’s dad, you know like papa, dad. It stands for Prophet, Allah, Prophet, Allah. The best way to explain this to look at a situation. Let’s say you see a homeless person, both the Prophet and God say that giving food, or money, or clothing, anything to help them is encouraged. PAPA is a system of verification, if someone is unsure of what to do in a particular situation, you look at what the Prophet said and what God says, but ultimately, just like PAPA ends with A, we take God’s words as final.
The last topic we went over was killing animals Halal versus not Halal. Killing an animal, the halal way is, I think, by cutting the jugular of the animal. This results in a death that is quick for the animal and it also effectively drains all the blood out of the animal, making it cleaner to eat. We debated why simply cutting the head of the animal or shooting them in the head wouldn’t be categorized as halal. They all have the animal suffering more, which shouldn’t happen, and it doesn’t effectively drain all the blood out of the animal. I believe that there are some other aspects of killing an animal that make it halal but those are the ones that I remember.