2021 October 3 — MA — male age 15 — Week 4

This week at GISLA my homework was to memorize Darood e Ibrahim and write my essay. I completed both those tasks beforehand and went to class. Today’s class was a bit different compared to previous weeks. Just like last time, we started off with our 2 cycles of prayer and our meditation. The only difference this time was that instead of doing this in the classroom, we did it in the upstairs prayer room. I noticed that this time I had gotten better at quickly emptying my mind off all other thoughts and just focusing on saying “La ilaha illallah.” Although it still took me a minute, it was much quicker than last class. Once we were done, Teacher Ji came to the prayer room and told us about the importance and goal of this meditation that we are doing at the beginning of every class.

After that, we headed into class and began. Unlike our previous classes, we dove right into testing. I went up and teacher Ji told me to test everything with teacher S first and then come and test with him. So I went outside and tested with teacher S and I started memorizing Rabij al ni as well. Before I started memorizing Rabij al ni, Teacher S and I had a conversation about the main idea of the green stairs leadership academy and how it is extremely important to understand the quran, even more than it is to memorize it. We talked about how the quran has an answer to everything. Teacher S gave the analogy “If your fridge breaks down, you look for the manual on how to fix it. The Quran is the manual to life and if someone has it all memorized with the meaning, they can fix any problem in life right away.”

We also talked about how he used a verse from the Quran to explain the main idea of the GISLA program to an adult a little while ago. The understanding of that verse was basically an asset that he had at his disposal. I also told him about a friend of mine in Newyork who is a hafiz and he understood the meaning of every verse. I told teacher S that he would randomly recite an Ayah from the Quran and then it’s translation and then he would somehow correlate it with the topic we were talking about. Teacher S said that I should really value this friend.

After that I started memorizing rabij al ni and once I had it down, I went inside and tested with teacher Ji. Teacher Ji then told me to go to the right side of the room and test the whole namaz with Student H. I had a bit of hesitation at some points but I was able to get the whole thing done correctly at the end and fix any mistakes I made. One of my goals over this upcoming week is to get to a point where I can do the whole prayer in English without a single flaw. Then I went back to perfecting my memorization of rabij al ni since I had just memorized it and it was somewhat rusty.
Once I was sure of my memorization of the surah, Teacher Ji said that student S and I should test out next week and we only get three chances per year to pass the test. He said, we cannot have a single mistake or hesitation and that we need to memorize the English translation of each Ayah singularly, which had me thinking about what teacher S had said about the importance of knowing the meaning of each ayah. It did stress me out though because memorizing each ayah separately and being able to translate any single one, at any time is a bit of a challenge. Teacher Ji also said that we shouldn’t take the test if we are unsure of ourselves.

So I got started on correlating each ayah of surah Fatiha with it’s english translation. I tried to find words that I knew like “Maliki yaum ideen” because I could connect malik with master and remember what it means in my head.
After a little while of doing that, I got up to go get water and teacher S asked me to join a conversation that he and Student H were having. I’m glad I got to be involved in that conversation because it was very insightful. One thing that stuck out to me was when teacher S said that ego is a form of the devil. He basically said that it is one of the worst possible qualities and that it prevents us from growing and learning. A person with an ego refuses to ask questions because he or she thinks that they know more than someone else and that makes a barrier between the person and growth. Another thing that stuck out to me in that conversation was when student H asked “does someone need to get to a point where they have a lot of money, to understand that it can’t fulfill them and that religion is necessary?” I pitched into this because I know that it doesn’t happen very often but I knew two people in my life who were never necessarily “rich” and they both were absolutely devoted to religion. I didn’t even understand how they fed their families and whenever I would ask them they would say “Allah is the sole provider.” So in my opinion, it does not happen very often but there are people who learn early on that God is the sole provider and they can only get satisfaction by worshipping god.

We went outside and carried on our conversation and teacher S also told a story that somewhat contributed to Student H’s question. He told us about the time he had 19000 iraqi Dinar (Around 20 dollars) and one day he was with a man and they were getting kabobs and the man was putting all the Kabobs in a bag instead of eating them. Then on the way back, teacher S saw that man trying to catch a bus and he gave him a ride and asked the man why he didn’t eat the kabobs. The man said that he had two kids and that they had never gotten to taste meat before and this was an opportunity for them. Teacher S said that the man had a large smile on his face the whole time and that his face exuded light or noor. Teacher S gave all his 19,000 dinar to that man that day because he felt that he needed them much more. He told us how within a year after that, he was making around $100k. Although my memory is a bit foggy, I believe teacher S tied this in with the topic of how god is the sole provider and that monetary value never was able to buy a man true happiness.

After teacher S, student H and I had talked for a little while, we went back in and teacher S told me about how it is important to feel something while we are praying and that I need to take the edge of a little and slow down and it would help me learn the surahs. He was definitely right because in my mind, I was treating this course as a task that I needed to push through as quickly as possible. Due to that, everything was kind of scrambled in my head and I was having a hard time truly understanding what I was saying or doing. He gave me a few tips on how to more efficiently memorize the ayahs separately. I went back to my seat and tried the tips he gave me and they were extremely helpful.

After our pizza break, we went back to the type of lessons we have had in the previous weeks. Teacher U came up and he gave some students some tips. He told student H to be more “perky” because he has a more drowsy nature most of the time. Teacher Ji also pitched in and said that “drowsy” nature would negatively affect things such as job interviews he may have in the future. He said a few things about each of the students he had worked more closely with and then he told Student S to come up to the front of the class and do a demonstration prayer for everyone and then he asked student B to come up and do a second example. Teacher U then told us about the story of surah Kauthar and how it was sent to the prophet (PBUH) when the Kafir quraish were making fun of him and how surah kauthar came as one of the miracles of the quran and how it said “Indeed it is your enemies who will be cut off from future hope.” He also gave us homework to research the sons of the prophet (PBUH) and how long they lived and when they died.

Then we went back to our exercise from the first week. Introductions. A new student, Student A went up to introduce herself and she didn’t do as well on her first time, so student B went up to give an example and then student H went up to do the same and then student S went up and then the second student S and by the time we were done, 90% of the class was standing at the from of the room to get their introduction right. It was somewhat amusing but also educational. Teacher Ji said that we could take any one topic and then stretch it and talk about it for 3 minutes and that is the skill we need to work on. He also highlighted how this is a vital skill for our futures where we will have to talk at the front of the room to present projects and ideas. It’s a skill that will help us rise above in our future.

Teacher S showed us a few pictures on the Tv. One of them was a picture from the mosque today where a box of pizza was on the ground and the food was being wasted and the other picture was from a year ago from teacher S’s one drive where he had pictures of people who couldn’t even afford a single meal and how they would kill to get that pizza box. He talked about how he felt that, since he had been granted all of these things, it was his duty to help others basically. My mind correlated that with our lessons on amanah over the past few classes.

An older student from the class was also there today and he told us about the importance of the GISLA course and how it impacted his life. He told us how teacher Ji purposely puts us in uncomfortable spots to make us better leaders. He talked about how he learned to be a better speaker and leader in this program and that he is teaching it to his coworkers today who have much more work experience than him.

Teacher Ji also did the “BS” lesson on the newer students again this time and it was just as amusing. He also did a lesson on “not chasing perfection.” He asked everyone where they would aim if we were playing darts. Obviously, everyone said “Bullseye” and that turned out to be our mistake. Teacher Ji said that our chances of hitting the bullseye are much lower than his chances of hitting a lower part of the board and in the end he would accumulate more points and win. He said we shouldn’t chase perfection (Bullseye) while talking to god. We should do as good as we can. He also told us about 3M’s leadership ideology and how the leader hires people smarter than him to do a job and gives them a budget to make something happen. Teacher Ji said that if our phone was broken, we would obviously hire someone smarter than us to fix it. That analogy made a lot of sense to me.

Finally, teacher ji once again explained why he doesn’t make us pray with him after class is over. This time he asked us which ayah in surah maoon is the reason he doesn’t have us pray with him. I immediately knew he was talking about the ayah which said “And those amongst you who only offer prayers to be seen by others.” I do wish I wasn’t unsure of myself and had said it right away. Lastly, teacher ji told us about a workmate of his who had passed away very suddenly recently and he told us that there is no guarantee when we will die, so we shouldn’t wait till tomorrow to pray.

My homework for next week is to be able to correlate each ayah to its meaning individually and my essay which I am currently writing.

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