2022 October 6 -MK – male 23 Graduate

I arrived at exactly 9am this Sunday to my 5th week at the Green stairs program. Yes I showed up to class on time and was still the first student there, but I was unfortunately unable to arrive earlier as I had been doing to dedicate more time to meditation and prayers before class actually started. The classroom setup was a little different this time. Instead of rows of desks, we arranged chairs side by side in a single line for all the students to sit in front of the teacher. As we had a new student in the classroom, the teacher took this as an opportunity for us to practice public speaking as well as to show what we remembered from his lessons. He asked us to stand one by one and to explain the meaning of our 3 pledges in the morning, the pledge of allegiance, the pledge of faith, and the pledge of knowledge.

            After all the younger students had taken a turn at presenting their understanding, the teacher asked me to explain the pledge of allegiance’s significance at the start of this class. While explaining how we value the freedoms and life paths that are available to us from living in a developed nation, I realized that I wouldn’t need to dive in as deep into painting a picture for them as I would for the other students when I remembered them sharing that they themselves immigrated to the US from an area with conflict and would obviously have a far clearer perspective on the differences between being born in our parent’s country or having the opportunity of living and growing up in America. Following into the topic of what our duties are as Muslim-Americans, the teacher delved into the first responsibility we were taught we all have as Muslims. To leave the world a better place than how we found it.

            Whipping open a newspaper to the obituary section, he asked us if we knew some of the people who had passed away. We answered no, which appeared to be his point. LG riddled us with a word for what the most important thing for anyone is, and he told us it was “Legacy”. What’s most important in life is what legacy we leave behind. What people said about our character, who we impacted in life and left with a lesson that would forever be feeding you a reward for when they implemented that lesson in their day. While all tying back to the responsibility of leaving the world a better place, the goal that LG put into words for the class was grow and grow until the paper mentions you died for free. We couldn’t recognize a single name from the paid obituaries, there were stories many pages long detailing the lives of influential people around the world. This week it was the passing of the “Moroccan Mother Teresa”, a Nobel peace award winner. Not only did he tell us the significance of the Nobel prize in October, but he explained how she had touched so many lives and had such an impact on the world, the newspaper felt obligated to report on her death with a full page story.

            Speaking of death and leaving behind a legacy, it seems as though LG will have a shot at managing to out-teach a Sunday School role model, Jimmy Carter. A man who was so dedicated to teaching over the decades that he only stepped down at the age of 98 when COVID made it difficult to do so. He was a man who knew what position he wanted to hold in the “ecosystem” of life. The teacher elaborated on what he meant by ecosystem by utilizing an analogy of Toyota supply chain. Not all parts of life are equal, but each part is still necessary. We’re always going to need social service workers or garbageman, shown to us by the need for “essential workers” during the pandemic, but we also need doctors, lawyers, engineers, etc. It’s an individual’s job to gauge their own potential and then accordingly map out their life. If you have the potential to become a doctor and improve the physical health of others, you have a duty to yourself to achieve that potential. To not simply walk on the path most chosen, but to gaze 15 years into the future and picture how to utilize your potential and skills to the max. Despite the world’s flow being unchangeable by a single person during their lifetime, you can always choose to look beyond our “ecosystem” and add even more to it. Can’t imagine yourself fitting into the roles that comprise our world? Create more roles and push our system to even greater lengths then. To achieve success, you cannot afford to be lazy and ignore your own potential. The opportunity cost of wasting developing years is one you can almost never recuperate, as our time for growth and impact on the world is finite and unknown.

            With that last point of finding your place in the ecosystem of life (whether you go up or down) still ringing through my ears, we moved on to more spiritual matters. Finishing up a few final thoughts related to the previous topic, he asked one of his senior students to demonstrate what our final test would look like from our memorization HW. This was a test for the student as well as a demonstration of what our newest student could expect to be on the receiving end of in about 6 weeks.

Following our HW testing period, LG recapped a few topics related to the memorization for our newer students and as a review. Starting with the importance of knowing what you’re saying in prayer, to being able to envision and place yourself in the presence of God while you converse with him, how difficult doing so can be, and the 8-second rule we follow as a general goal. An important lesson he taught as a reminder from last week was about how much “rope” are you holding on to in Islam? Everyone’s level of commitment and active following of religious procedures varies, yet it doesn’t change the fact that they’re Muslim.

A man who never prays, does Haram, but still refuses to eat pork out of principal to faith certainly isn’t the greatest Muslim. They are still holding on to that rope of Islam though regardless of how close they are to the end. Nobody expects you to be at the top of the rope all the time, but you are expected to be constantly climbing and conquering the rope ahead of you. In similar fashion, that desire to hold on to the rope and avoid letting go at the end is sometimes all it takes to gradually make your way to the top.

As long as you’re climbing up, your risk of falling in case a hand slips is much lower and you have far more leeway to work with before losing grasp of your connection with God entirely.

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