2022 September 12 – MK male 23

I parked my car in the lot on a drizzling morning about half an hour before anyone else
really showed up. Today we resumed after a short break for the holidays last week. I took up
LG’s offer to arrive an hour or so earlier so that I could take advantage of more 1-on-1 time and
to practice the meditation lessons taught to me. While the building was still empty, I was able
to sit inside the prayer area and wait for LG and the rest of the class to show later. I took this
time to wander the halls a bit and familiarize myself with the building to pass time.

I greeted LG
in the parking lot when he showed up about half an hour before class and took some supplies
from his car to the classroom. This week’s early routine comprised of room setup with some
light discussion regarding what I would be utilizing this time on next week. The tables were all
set, I got my green T-shirt, and the rest of the students began to show up as I was wiping
rainwater off the walkway outside the door.

I noticed right away that the class had fewer students than last class. Although it was
mentioned a few would be arriving later, I assumed this was a result of them dropping the
program. Around 5 of us students took a seat at our desks as the day began. Since there were
new parents present today, LG began to ask us about the three pledges we begin each day
with, and their significance, so that the parents could learn as well. Starting with the pledge of
allegiance to the US flag. LG reiterated the importance of freedom of religion and other
opportunities provided to us by being raised in the US. The second one was our pledge of faith.
We reaffirmed out belief in the One and only God, the last Prophet, and all the previous
messengers prophets who preceded him. The third and final pledge in question was the pledge
of knowledge.

The pledge of knowledge may seem somewhat less intuitive to guess than the first two,
but the meaning behind it is still just as strong. The pledge is in fact Surah Fatiha itself. The
opening chapter of the Quran has many lessons in it to be found regardless of what stage in life
you read it at. In our context, LG attempted to convey the message by asking students what
their process would be for asking their parents for anything. We all unfortunately failed to
demonstrate the trait he was looking for and also failed to grasp the concept he was attempting
to drive into our heads. The very path we take in life is written for us in this chapter.
Appropriately titled “The opener”, the very structure of verses and the tone within them is
something that can be used as a plan in our own lives.

The first half of the chapter revolves around praise of God. Not dissimilar to how one
would try to “butter up” their parents before making a request of them. It praises God by
signifying only he is worthy of worship. It calls to him by his titles of most gracious and most
merciful, yet his power and authority as the only one to turn to and the master of all is never
forgotten. The second half of the chapter delves into the request being made, “show us the
straight path”. Not only do you have to articulate what you’re asking for, but the next verse
further emphasizes that you should be specific in what you ask for and ensure you ask for what
is better. Not just any straight path but the path of those who are among God’s favor.

After a discussion amongst the students and teacher, we were asked to stand up and
present our recent knowledge to some of the newer parents in the class. They were brought up
to the front in a lecturers spot and each student stood in their chair to speak for the assigned 3
minutes. I recognized that this was an exercise in retention as well as public speaking. Some of
the students did very well in conveying their thoughts and understandings, while others
(understandably) were uncomfortable with the pressure of having to present on the spot to
new people while maintaining eye contact.

It was a moment that made me reflect once againon just how far ahead I had moved along in life since then. It’s difficult to see in the day to day as you grow every moment, but I myself recalled the days in high school where I found myself in a cold sweat as my throat closed up after being asked to speak or present. While by no means am I a professional public speaker, I’ve most certainly grown accustom to speaking in front of a crowd or strangers and found myself once again at the conclusion that this was a
program that I would’ve found terrifying but infinitely beneficial during my teenage years.
The parents at the front gave feedback on each of our responses after we all had a turn
and then in fact gave their own lessons and takeaways from what was shared. A memorable
story told to us by one of the parents, C, was that of a waitress providing input on a project him
and a business partner were discussing at a diner.

Later on during further discussion, that same
idea was considered and upon realizing its feasibility, implemented it in to the company. At a
time no so distant in the future he had come back around to this Diner for a meal with his
business partner and they saw the same waitress again. They called her over and let her know
that not only had her idea worked and saved them millions, the company was offering to pay
for her college and provide her with a job upon completion of her degree as well. The point C
was trying to teach is that it merely takes a moment to see how passionate and sincere
someone is when speaking to them and interviewing, and that passion is what puts people in
places to succeed. That woman’s life was changed all because she had the courage to interject
in a business conversation and demonstrate her own take on it without fear of backlash. After
all, the worst thing anyone can just say is no and move on with their lives.

Glossing over the specifics in the following lessons and my unfortunate run at the
memorization HW that had been assigned to us, we stepped back into the lecturing and
knowledge part of the class. LG explained that this time in the class would be designated to
meditation or polishing our inner eye. We were handed blindfolds and then told to lose
ourselves in inner thinking while focusing on our testimony of faith to God, and we were to not
react as he went around the room brushing us with a pencil and tested our state of meditation.
I unfortunately did not fare very well and only felt as if I became hyper aware of the footsteps
moving around the classroom. This was merely the beginning of a lifelong process that we
would be continuing long after the completion of this program. The goal would be to
completely lose awareness of our physical surroundings as we focused on our hearts. We were
even told the story of a Ali ibn Abi Talib, and great companion and relative of the Prophet,
when he had an arrow stuck in his leg after a battle. After being told that the removal of said
arrow would be immensely painful, requested that they wait until he began his Asr prayer so
they could do it during then. He was a man with such focus and sincerity during his time to
converse with his Lord, he didn’t even notice when the arrow was pulled and was in fact upset
with them as he assumed they hadn’t done it.

With that, our HW was assigned, we were told to read samples from Naipul, and I await the answer for what the purpose of the pledge of faith is next class.

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