2020 September 13 – HL – male age 15 – Class Notes

            This week I woke up at 7:00 AM on a warm Sunday morning to get ready for the Green Stairs Leadership Academy program. I immediately got out of bed and went downstairs to take my laundry out of the washer and put it in the dryer as I didn’t have any clean clothes to wear to The Green Stairs Leadership Academy class which would be starting in approximately two and a half or so hours. After starting the dryer load, I proceeded to walk about five feet into the direction of the kitchen to make breakfast. I had two eggs with toast along with a glass of water to wash it all down. I have recently learned the trick to making a good omelette is to add a very small splash of milk to the egg mixture which adds a fluffy texture to the egg and I have also found that it helps prevent it from sticking to the pan. Nevertheless, my mom had recently purchased a non-stick pan from Costco the day before, thus making it a possibility that it could have all been a placebo. By the time I finished eating, It was 7:40 AM and I still had about an hour and fifty minutes until I needed to be in class. Accounting for the ten minute drive, that meant that I needed to leave the house at around 9:15 AM (factoring in the five minutes it would take for my dad to inevitably realize he forgot something, ask me to go upstairs to get it, only to call me back after realizing it was in his back pocket). Since I had quite a bit of time to kill, I went back upstairs to pray Fajr and to practice trigonometry as I was having trouble understanding some of the concepts taught in class. Allahumdullilah after I prayed and watched a few videos on how to solve the given problems everything started to make sense and I was flying through the MathSpace problems my Precalculus teacher (Mrs.Carpenter) had assigned me. 

            At 9:05 I knocked on my dad’s door (only once this time) and asked him to drive me to the masjid so I could attend the class. By 9:15 we had already left the house and were entering the main road through the opposite intersection (about seven minutes away at this point in time). I arrived at the masjid one minute ahead of schedule which allotted me one minute to rush up the stairs and be in the Green Stairs Leadership Academy classroom at 9:30 which would prevent my chances of receiving a lecture with regards to punctuality by Teacherji. 

            The first thing we did in class was divide the students between level one and level two. The level one students went outside to play badminton while the level two students stayed inside to discuss the book we were reading. The name of the book we were assigned is “Reading the Qur’an” by Ziauddin Sardar. In the prologue, the author spoke on how his first memories of the Qur’an were positive ones and he believes that those positive experiences are the reason why he stayed close with the Qur’an up until today. The adult member of the class who was leading the discussion (A) went around the level 2 students one by one and asked us if our first experiences of the Qur’an were positive or negative. (A) told us how growing up catholic, he attended a Sunday School in which the nuns used to hit you when you did something wrong. After telling us about his experiences with religion prior to joining Islam, he then asked the rest of the class to share their initial experiences with Islam. Due to the fact that nobody volunteered to share, he gestured toward me to share my first memories of the Qur’an. I told him that I used to have a very angry Pakistani Quran teacher from the ages of 3-5 who’s classes I used to take over Skype. After moving to a different town when I was five, I joined the Islamic Center of Northern Virginia’s Sunday Islamic School program in which I would memorize the Qur’an and study tajweed, Arabic, as well as Islamic Studies. At the same time, my older brother (who is twelve years older than me which would make him 17 at the time) joined the Green Stairs Leadership Academy which was (and still is) conducted in a classroom on the top floor of the same mosque. Although some aspects of the class were different at the time, the core concepts were still the same. Back then my dad wasn’t as busy with work and he would sometimes even sit in those classes with my older brother. On the car rides home he would tell me about some of the concepts they talked about in that session of the Green Stairs Leadership Academy and I believe that this gave me a strong Islamic foundation. 

            After we finished our discussion on the book “Reading the Qur’an by Ziauddin Sardar, Teacherji began talking and explained to us what level two was about. The main theme of level one was BS (no not the kind of BS you are thinking about). BS is a concept Teacherji came up with a long time ago which stands for belief and sincerity. When you are worshipping God, those are the two things that must be within you. Every time there is a new student in class, Teacherji puts on a serious face and asks them if they are full of BS straight out of the blue. Obviously most students are shocked that he would say this within the boundaries of a Mosque but they are usually amused when they learn what it stands for. The first lesson one usually learns when they join the Green Stairs Leadership Academy is to never make assumptions without a strong basis on which to assume as it is very much possible that you may end up making a fool out of yourself.

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