class notes by 18 yr old female covering late 2018

WEEK TWO: This week, we learned about how things in modern society have changed since the time of prophet Mohammed PBUH and how we must apply the Quran accordingly.  We also learned that it important to be independent like a goat but to really think before we speak because the biggest problem with goats are that they blurt out without thinking and with no regard to anyone else.

WEEK THREE: This week, I learned why this class is important. This class is important because it teaches us about our religion but in my opinion, the more important leadership skills that will be useful to me for the rest of my life.

One of graduates of the Green Stairs program decided to pop in last week and shared with us his experience of the class. I remember him telling a story of how one day he as in a parking garage and the line for the tickets was very long. But he looked over and saw an empty one and thought why isn’t anyone using this. He thought of our concept of goats and sheep and decided to move out of the line, go in the empty one, take his ticket and leave.

In reality, this concept is very important and because of the class, he was able to become more of a goat or leader that a sheep or follower. The Green Stairs Leadership Academy is a lot like broccoli, when were young we don’t like it we rather eat anything but broccoli much like personally, I don’t look forward to this class. But as we grow older people understand the benefits of broccoli, much like we understand the benefits of this class even if we couldn’t see it as kids.

I also learned how it’s fundamental to our understanding of Islam not to make people feel bad for the way they choose to practice and worship Allah. 

The former student also shared the story of a young woman who used to come to the mosque and pray. She wouldn’t wear a hijab inside the mosque, perhaps only when she prayed and too it off when she was done. Now this attracted the attention of the more conservative and traditional embers of our mosque and one person went and told her you need to wear a scarf inside the mosque. The fact that she did not wear a scarf was not a huge concern. Her coming in and doing her prayer was more beneficial to her than wearing a hijab. Our ultimate goal on this Earth is to make it a better place and this girl was doing her part. It doesn’t matter how we choose to do this or that it is different from the way someone else does it. The sooner we can get over our differences, the sooner we can focus on our similar goal of better the world around us.

Week of 12/2/2018            This week, at the beginning of class, we learned a little but about 2 animals I thought were just regular old animals that didn’t really affect humans super directly. Boy, I was quite wrong. The wombat for example, if I’m remembering correctly, the excrement was sold as some of the most expensive coffee in the world, much like a money’ excrement.

On the other hand, the elephant was perhaps more interesting, if it can get more interesting than wombat poop. An elephant is able to pee the amount of half a bathtub of water in 20 seconds. After getting over the initial shock and surprise of this, I realized that this realization in hydrodynamic technology could be vital to major world problems such as the recent wildfire in California. I will definitely be looking more closely at the importance and use of animals in my everyday life.

We also learned in class two acronyms: CCC and SOH. CCC stands for something computer code. This essentially means that there is someone who is writing the code or more broadly the instructions for everything in our lives.

This concept ties in with SOH which stands for slacker, operator, and hacker. For the purposes of explaining the concept, I will use the example of a car and the operator will be used as a standard. The operator of a car is someone who uses it for what is intended for: getting around safely and takes good care of the car and overall keeps it in good shape. On the lower side, a slacker is someone who, I’m sure you’ve already guessed, slakes in the responsibilities of keeping up with a car. Their car is dirty and messy and perhaps even dented and badly looking on the outside. Don’t be confused thought, the slacker will still use the car for its intended use, but just to a lower standard than the operator. On the opposite hand, the hacker, which usually has a negative connotation in this case, means someone who is an expert in their field, will take it to the next level and modify and improve the car, for example rigging the car and making it run faster and without the shaking of the car and usual problems. These two concepts are important and apply to most things in life and the understanding of the code will allow you to first become an operator and then move on to becoming the best kind of hacker.  In class, we had the example of Yo Yo Mama, a famous musician who because he was respected and a hacker in his field, able to rile up a crowd and get them excited about his show.

Another very important thing we learned in class was about reading the news. Reading the news is very important to stay informed in the affairs of the world around us. I think for me, the reason I don’t really read the news is because everything I see is about a Trump or about what’s wrong with our world not so much what anyone in our government is doing to change it.  Everyone speaks of what’s wrong with the world and criticizing our leaders but then themselves not stepping up and taking charge to change things. In addition to staying informed, we must also read the news and also history to ensure that we make smarter decision than them and not repeat history.

The example in class we used was the cycle of leader in Islamic history, the Caliphates. The Islamic caliphates were stuck for so long in a cycle of killing and not trusting their leader which in my opinion when they could’ve been focused on expanding their empire and done a better job of maintaining it.

Week of 1/27/2019            This week I wasn’t able to go to school but my mom did. She took notes and after reading it, I think I have a pretty good understanding of what we learned.

The prophet Muhammed was 6 years old when his mother died, I think it happened when he was right there. After the death of his mother, he went to live with his grandfather who also sadly died 2 year later when the prophet was 8 years old. The trauma he went through as a child in my opinion, shaped into the generous and selfless person he became before, after becoming and during his prophethood. When the Quran first came down and Islam was introduced, the first to convert to Islam were Khadeja, Ali, Abu Bahkr, and Zaid. I’m sure at the beginning of class, they meditated like we had been doing before I stopped going. When 2nd teacher came to the class and talked, he told them about why God created us, how he gave us free will, how you should judge people when you meet them so they will not harm you later. The friend one I can definitely relate too because when I was growing up, I didn’t have lot of friends and was kind of lonely growing up and so whenever I met someone, I would completely ignore their flaws and be happy they wanted to be friends with me. Now however, I’ve learned that you need to sometimes isolate yourself and be mindful of the people you bring into your life, otherwise they will harm you.

Week of 3/10/2019             This week, the wife of the founder of the mosque had passed away. I had never met her or even really known who she was. During the first half of class, we talked about the Islamic funeral process. When a Muslim first dies, you start by washing the body. This process is similar to an wudu, but it is done with their auras covered, for women is from their chest to their ankles and for men their hips to their knees. For females this process is usually done by another female and for men, another men washes their bodies. After they’re clean, they are covered with a cloth and usually put into a freezer so they don’t smell. That is also the reason that it’s said to wash the body and bury it as soon as possible. But in the Middle East, after the body is washed, they bring it out into a large space, most likely in the persons house and they read Quran around them. After they are washed, they are then buried. It’s really common in Islam for women not to go to the gravesite.

Personally, I don’t see the problem with it, for example, recently, a close friend of my fathers died and my mom told me how the jinaza ( burial, in Dair) was on Friday. She said oh I can’t go to that but I will try and make it to the fatya ( a funeral service kind of thing, also in Dair). I was really puzzled by this because this didn’t make sense to me. Our teacher indirectly addressed my confusion when he told us how it is not Islam that doesn’t give women rights and freedoms. It is more often our culture that limits the rights and freedoms of women and many people together and say oh Islam doesn’t give women rights when in facts from the beginning Islam had been among the first religions to prioritize the importance of womens rights and leadership.

But we can’t blame the lack of rights for women all on culture, we must also for ourselves stand up and advocate for those rights. In this part of class, we also talked about some of the major angels who are Israfiel and Jabraiel. Israfeil is the angel of death, who in a metaphor our teacher used, fished for souls and reels them in during their time. Jabraiel is the APS, which stands for the Angel Postal Service which refers to the process that brought the different parts of the Quran to Prophet Muhmmed. After the first part of class, we talked about surah Iklaas. It is the 112th surah and was a Meccan surah which means it was brought down in the early stages of Islam. It was used to describe the oneness of God to a group of Jewish people who asked Prophet about Islam to compare it to Judaism. This surah was significant because at that time period, Islam was one of the only monotheistic religions in a time when people worshiped things like fire and idols. For me, today’s class was really interesting, especially the part where we analyzed the surah and really talked about it. I hope that we can do something like it again.

Week of 3/17/2019 By: HH age 15 Submitted on 3/17/2019 Today I arrived to class at 10:05. I was late but I did let our teacher know ahead of time. I didn’t bring anything to class. One of the requirements for the class are to learn the prayer and 5 surahs in both Arabic and English in just 6 weeks. By doing this and memorizing the 50 some concepts we graduate from level one of the program and get a trophy.

The concepts are a series of objects that our teacher has employed to explain important concepts in Islam. Testing out in 6 weeks has only been done by a few students and parents and many finish a little after 6 weeks. I have been in the GISLA program since around late October and I have yet to complete this requirement.  I think the biggest reason for that was that I got lazy and didn’t really take it seriously but over the course of the past few weeks, I’ve gained a new perspective on the course and I’m looking forward to putting a lot more of my effort towards the memorization.

For next week, I need to memorize surah Al-Iklaas, Al- Kawthar, and the Darudi Ibrahim.

Today I came late to class, but when I did come the class was talking about hijabs in connection to the recent terrorist attack on the mosques in New Zealand. The argument that the teacher was making was that in the aftermath of these horrific attacks, such as 911, men who had grown beards and worn hats took them off in an effort to blend in with the general public of people, to sort of disidentify themselves as Muslim on the outside.

The women, however, despite the Quran stating that when someone’s life is in danger, it’s not required for them to wear the hijab nor anything of that sort, but in the clutches of culture, it was still expected of them to wear the hijab; Even when the simple act of going to the grocery store could end their life, because most women go alone while their husband are at work at work or even when they’re at work themselves.

His point was that if men are choosing to do this, they should at the very least show solidarity to women and go with them for protection. It should also be noted that while numerous men will state that of course they would help out a woman in need, as out teacher says, it’s far easier to fight for your principals than to live up to them.

Take the man in New Zealand that everyone is talking about, while he stopped the gunman and sadly died, he is one out of 7 billion Similarly, while it is a women’s choice to wear a hijab, they should not feel pressured in any way to continue to wear a hijab in a time of danger and hostility. That also connects to the topic we were discussing last class about women not allowing others to walk all over and standing up for themselves.

The danger that women face in that period of hostility is similar to the danger that people in Al Andulas faced during the Abbasid rule of the Islamic Empire. Al Andulas was in Spain and when the Spanish queen was upset about the widespread influence of Islam, she ordered for the expulsion of non-Christian peoples and tried to regain the land for Christian Spain. One way the Spanish identified the Muslim was through asking little kids how to make wudu and when they showed them, they identified them as Muslim, they would later go and kill the parents. As a result, the Muslims searched for a way to continue to pray without dying.

The solution: they were instructed to look to the ocean and in their mind, make wudu and pray. No one would know what they were doing and it allowed the to continue the practice of Islam. This clearly shows that in Islam, there is always another way to worship God without putting your life in danger. The story of the Spanish Muslims made me realize that

            During the second part of class, we analyzed two ayas from the surah Al-Baqarah. One of them talked about the righteousness of God which I didn’t really understand fully but

the second one was about the way to conduct business negotiations and proceedings. It basically said that when conducting business, you should have another person there as a witness and then to put contracts in writing. The aya came down because of a business deal a horse seller made with the Prophet. Prophet Muhammed went to buy a person’s horse and after agreeing on a price, the prophet informed him that his money was at home so the seller could follow him there so that he could pay him. The seller followed, but at a distance and along the way he was approached by others to buy the same horse for more than the prophet had. When reaching the prophet’s house, the seller asked him for more money if he wanted the horse. The prophet was baffled, he said “I thought we arranged that I would buy the horse from you.” and the seller replied, “By God I haven’t sold it to you yet.” People gathered as they were disputing and although the seller eventually backed down, it became clear that there needed to be a way to properly handle business.

The analyzing part of class was really interesting to me and I really liked it because it explained the backstory to the ayas of the Quran and for me to understand where the words come from makes learning the Quran much better.

            After we had finished the analyzing part, we had a guest speaker read some ayas from the Quran for us. Our teacher told us that he studied at schools in Turkey who are known for their excellent Islamic schools. However, he didn’t know what he was saying in the prayer actually meant.

Our teacher told us that even his brother, who knew the Quran and had been to Hajj multiple times, was asked what one of the lines meant and why it was significant and he didn’t know. This shocked me because I assumed that most people who studied the Quran knew the English. It also made me realize the importance of what we’re learning.

 After we talked about the background of our guest speaker, he recited some Quran for us in a really beautiful voice. I have never heard someone read Quran like that, it sounded almost like music and I had never been so really into listening to Quran except for those 5 minutes. I hope that I can find a recording that sounds as good as that because for the first time, I want to listen to Quran.

Today’s class really reinterested me on what we’re learning at GISLA and helped me realize why I really liked the class: because of the way it makes you see Islam for a way of life not just praying 5 times a day and fasting.  

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