2021 October 10 — JJ — female age 33 — Week 5

                One very interesting thing that was said today is that the Quran is a repetition of itself. So 114 chapters convey the same message over and over—a message of the oneness of God, and the importance of doing good works, like charity. Our instructor also said his class is a repetition of itself. There are certain core themes that our class needs to emphasize, such as the values of leadership and of being a good person. He said he wanted to structure the class in such a way that even if a student only came for one session, they would learn enough of what they needed to be a good and successful person. And while Islam provides a framework for that, these are values that are universal. In this essay I will reflect on what value the class brings and discuss some of the specific topics that came up.

                When I arrived, I did two cycles of prayer followed by fifteen minutes of meditation. I was happy to meditate today because my mind was very busy from all the activity of my weekend, and I needed to slow my mind down and bring it to peace. While I wasn’t successful at clearing my busy mind, I was still glad for the opportunity to have ten minutes of attempted stillness and solitude.  

                Class for the teenagers started around 10 AM. There was no testing out today. The teachers covered a variety of topics: The five Islamic pillars of faith, the six beliefs, QHA, the books associated with the prophets, cruisers, slackers and hackers, the difference between sheep and goats, wealth, Amanah, the children of Mohammad, universal values, wudhu and the news.  

The five pillars of faith in Islam are:

  1. Shahada (The declaration of faith)
  2. Salah (Prayer)
  3. Zakat (Alms Giving)
  4. Sawm (Fasting)
  5. Hajj (Pilgrimage)

The six beliefs are:

  1.  God
  2. Angels
  3. Holy Books
  4. Messengers
  5. The Day of Reckoning
  6. Accountability

QHA is the Quran, Hadith and Accountability. This is the order through which we should make religious decisions as Muslims.

We also talked about the four prophets who brought holy books. Moses brought the Torah, David brought the Psalms, Jesus brought the Bible (or the Gospel for those who want to get more specific), and Muhammad brought the Quran. Of course, it was God who revealed these books. These prophets were simply the vessels through which God revealed his message.

The teacher then asked the students to say whether they were cruisers, slackers or hackers. A cruiser is someone who goes with the flow. A slacker is someone who lags behind and is lazy. A hacker is someone who gets ahead of the game by figuring out life hacks and code cracking. Our teacher told us we want to be hackers. I am not sure which of these three things I am, because depending on the issue, I can be all three.

Then the teacher went into depth about sheep and goats. He told the students they don’t want to be sheep; they want to be goats. Sheep are mindless followers that go along with the herd. Goats are independent. The problem with being a sheep is that they are passive enough to be easily led to the slaughter. Goats are much harder to herd toward slaughter and have a strong independent nature that is befitting of a leader. I hope that I am a goat.

                In terms of wealth, our teacher asked us if it is better to be a poor ascetic, moderately wealthy or stinking rich. If I understood the discussion correctly, I think the best option would be moderately wealthy. A moderately wealthy person can use their money and power to fund worthy causes around the globe. An ascetic who has nothing more than a bowl for food can’t achieve much change because they don’t have any means. Someone who is stinking rich is only using their money on themselves. They are taking an amana (a trust or a gift from God) and wasting it on frivolous hedonism.

                This brings me to the next topic that was discussed: amana. As mentioned above, an amana is a trust or a gift from God. All people are different because God made us different. We have different skills and abilities—some of us more than others. If someone has some wealth or God given talent, they have a responsibility to use their amana to achieve the maximum good here on Earth. We discussed famous sports stars who make a sign of thanking God after achieving victory and who use their wealth to fund worthy goals.

                One of the other teachers talked about the children of the Prophet Muhmmad (PBUH). In the previous week, Teacher O told us about how Surah Kawthar was revealed. The Quraysh were an Arab tribal confederation who controlled the city of Mecca and its Ka’ba. They were against Muhammad’s mission of spreading monotheism throughout the land, because they saw it as a threat to the vast amounts of money they earned from people making pilgrimages to Mecca. At the time, the Ka’ba housed hundreds of the different idols for the polytheistic gods who were worshiped in the land. Since the Quraysh benefited greatly from these pilgrimages, they did everything in their power to thwart Muhammad’s mission, whether through intimidation, insults or outright physical violence. One of the things the Quraysh did is insult Muhammad for not having any sons. After this incident, Surah Kawthar was revealed to tell Muhammad that God had granted him the fountain of abundance while his enemies (the Quraysh) were the ones cut off from all future hope.

                The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) did have sons, but they all died before reaching adulthood. The sons of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) were Qasim, Abdullah and Ibrahim. Two of his sons were from the Prophet’s first wife, Khadija. One of the Prophet’s sons were from his wife Mary the Copt. Muhammad (PBUH) also had four daughters. The daughters were Zainab, Ruqayaah, Umm Kulthum and Fatima. Muhammad (PBUH) had all his daughters with his first wife, Khadija.

                Today’s class lecture was longer than others since we did not test out. We covered a large variety of topics. The values of common sense and leadership were reiterated, as they are in most classes. We also covered the news, the happenings of wealthy powerful people, wudhu, universal values, Arabian months and the three levels of learning: mental, verbal and written. I think the most important thing I learned today is that a leader is independent and takes initiative. A leader does not wait around to receive orders. They figure out what needs to be done and they go do it. I hope I can be a goat and a hacker.

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