2018 Nov Dear Anisa Letters – Why i want you to join this program – Actual notes from current students to new students

(These notes are mostly unedited and represent actual GISLA students views)

Dear Salahudeen, Let me get this straight, you want to consider coming to the green stairs academy. An academy that literally makes you want to go home every second your here. An academy that makes you memorize study guides and that you must have a 100% grade on the final exam in order to pass. An academy that makes you write essays every week in class and at home plus memorizing study guides. An academy that everyone insults you when you get one thing wrong. This place isn’t easy, it can be harsh and cruel. But it teaches you to become a man. To be mature, and makes you able to make your own decisions and guide you to a path enlightenment. By the way it makes your parents humble and get free food. Most importantly you must have guts. Don’t think that your special, because your not. This class turns you into a grown up and is probably the most important thing to learn in your life.

Here’s why you should join, If you want to follow the person in front of you for the rest of you life, then stay away from me and this class. If you want to make your own decisions, form your own goals and become a leader then this is the perfect place for you.


  • Your going to be made fun of
  • *The teacher is very liberal
  • You need to have a strong work ethic and self discipline
  • You need to become mature
  • Pizza isn’t very good
  • No juice or drinks besides water
  • *Get in shape because your going to have to do push ups for every mistake

The teacher should be your biggest fear for when your in this class. He is harsh but sympathetic, he is well  spoken and open minded. He went to a Good College, But, He is extremely liberal and rejects Sharia law. He has a newer version and perspective of Islam influenced by western ideas and secular thoughts. I disagree with a lot 8f his statements personally but the good thing is I now have an idea of what other Muslims around here think of this religion. By RA aged 15 11/4/17

Dear Anisa, I want to tell you about this program I’m in. It’s called the Greenstairs Leadership Academy. I joined this program around 4 years ago, though I haven’t been attending it consistently throughout that time. At some points in the year, I get extremely busy in school, and I can’t come to class for a while. It sounds kind of weird, but the thing is, my inconsistent attendance has showed me that I don’t just come to class out of habit, or as a routine, because I kept on dropping the habit. Instead, after some time has passed when I hadn’t been attending class, I found myself wanting to come back.

In class, we split our time between two things. The first half of class is time for memorization and assessment, and the second half, the teacher mainly lectures. During assessments, we focus on learning the basic aspects of Islam in ways we understand. For example, the majority of the time is spent learning the Islamic Prayer with it’s English translation, so we know what we’re saying when we’re reciting the arabic. During the lectures, our teacher teaches about leadership and Islam. The way I see it, he expands our knowledge, teaches how to have an open mind, and shapes us into future leaders. However, this is all done slowly over time, and with subtle methods that take a long time to notice, so some people get confused with why he does what he does.

I think this program is definitely worth joining because of its priorities and areas of focus in comparison with other classes. I have attended many classes, but none of them have been able to impact me so greatly. While I agree that  learning about Islam while focusing on things like how to pray and memorizing Quran in arabic is extremely important, such things were no longer impacting my understanding my at a certain age. After a certain point, Muslims need to learn about Islam in a more broad and open-minded sense. This class helped me understand Islam in a way that made a lot more sense to me and genuinely inspired me to follow the essential values of Islam. I think you could also benefit in a similar way because in the time between our childhood and our adulthood, we all struggle to find our place in both the Islamic world and in general society, and I think this class could help you ground yourself and help you begin to find your way. Equipped with the skills and knowledge gained from this class, I believe that you could do great things and become successful at anything you set your mind to.

However, I think it would be unfair for me to advocate for the class so much without warning you in advance about our teacher. Our teacher is the type of person to not accept any nonsense in the class. He is very sharp and he can be rough around the edges, though he really means well. When I joined this class for the first time 4 years ago, i was an extremely timid 12-year-old who would crack under even the slightest pressure. I’m sure I even cried a couple of times–I wouldn’t be surprised, I cried a lot at the time. Over time, though, I gradually built up an immunity to his intimidation and my social skills and leadership qualities improved. Also, I’ve noticed a trend in teachers who chew students out for slicking , including our teacher: they push their students to reach their potential. Anyway, the point is, don’t expect him to act like an elementary school teacher or to sugar-coat things. If you want to get the benefits of the class, prepare yourself for the rigor. -HA November 4, 2018 16 Years Old

Dear Nabonita, Every Sunday, the Islamic Center of Northern Virginia trust(ICNVT) Mosque on Shirley Gate Road holds a Green Stairs Leadership Academy, which I am a part of. When I come to the class every Sunday, it isn’t the most enjoyable at first, but you start to realize you’re learning valuable lesson, maybe without even realizing it.

I’m going to be honest, the first few weeks I wouldn’t have even wanted to suggest the program to a friend because I didn’t want them to suffer like I did. Now, a few weeks later, I would reccomend it to almost all my Muslim friends. I think you should join this program because it really isn’t like the conventional Sunday School. Every class your tested–mentally, in your faith, and for some people emotionally. It not only builds you as a Muslim, but in general member of society, as well. If you don’t know how to pray, they’ll teach you. You will learn the meaning of what you say in prayer, why you pray, and what there is to being a Muslim besides what Arabic schools have taught you (memorizing Surahs and knowing words in Arabic that you may not understand). Not only will it aid you in building your Islamic knowledge, but you will learn how to be a leader as well, beyond your religion. If you cannot speak well in front of crowds, present a project, or even have an introduction for yourself to others. These are values that will be built on you if you join the program.

However, there are some things to be warn about. If you are not open to being challenged, if you are not open-minded, and if you are not okay with your intelligence being proven wrong sometimes, don’t come. It is not that you will be humiliated or perceived as stupid by the teacher, but you cannot walk in thinking that you know everything. Nobody knows all, not even the teacher, he can learn from you as well. I want to warn you that your experience may not be mine. It may take you longer to understand the purpose of the program and why it has built your character. Come in with a sense of patience, and you could leave with a sense of knowledge and understanding. A leader-to-be, KL 16-y/November 4, 2018

Dear Ahmed, My moms making me go to this Sunday school on Shirley Gate. The Sunday School is called Green Stairs Islamic Leadership Academy. The teacher is someone you probably know really well by now cause my mom always talks about him. In this class we learn how to pray in English and learn a few Surahs in Arabic and English as well. After that we talk for about an hour than go home. Oh and I forgot, there is free pizza– but don’t get excited, the pizza is straight booty.

You should join this program because you will learn things that actually relate to your every day life and things that will stick with you forever.

Now to warn you about the program. The teacher loves to call you out and he always wants you to type & send him an essay every week. The class is pretty boirng and like I said pizza is poo-poo. You have to wake up early every Sunday morning and be here from 10-1:30. If you are late he will make a big deal and call you out. Hope to see you soon. From, OS 11/4/18

Dear Abubakr,  For the past few weeks I have been in a leadership academy called Green Stair leadership academy. Although it is part of a masjid you will not only learn about surahs and pointless memorizing.  I don’t know what the “Green” represents in the program but he will probably find some analogies to connect to a life lesson.

Throughout the leadership academy we learn the meaning of surahs that we have recited multiple times during salah. He also teaches us acronyms and analogies to apply to time situations. This program is not only to help you become a better muslim but to also become a better person. Because our goal as a muslim make the world a beautiful place.

Joining this program will prepare you for situations later in your life that call for you to make hard decisions or deal with something like the loss of a family member. The teacher is very challenging not only with learning his lessons, but also wants to make sure you are not an idiot when you leave.

You probably won’t like the program when you first come, but if you are already in it your parents are going to make you keep going. He is very strict about homework and making sure it gets done. Also don’t eat the pizza. AL  Nov  2018 17

Dear Shahd, Im part of the Green Stairs Islamic Leadership Academy at the Shirley Gate Road Mosque. This school is different from any other Islamic school I’ve been to. At Green Stairs, we don’t just sit around memorizing the Quran or hadiths. We don’t even write in Arabic. Green Stairs Academy is about understanding our religion and learning leadership skills that will benefit us long after we leave.

You should join the program because it teaches you how to be a leader. How to take charge of things and not just blindly follow what everyone says. I think this is one of the most important skills you can learn. You should also join this program because it places a great importance on really understanding Islam and that it goes beyond just reading the Quran. For example, the first six weeks in the program we are required to perform prayer in English. This may seem weird but it’s prayer is a crucial part of being a Muslim and even if you don’t pray, knowing what people say to God five times a day, everyday will make you a more informed Muslim. If you do choose to join the program, you should be warned that since it is a leadership program, they expect you to be vocal. You have speak and interact. Sitting in the back of the class just doing your work doesn’t cut it. For me, when I started I hated that I had to do this; to talk. But now, I appreciate it because it pushed me out of my comfort zone and makes me that much more confident and sure of myself. I hope that you join the program and that this letter was informative to you. Sincerely, HH 15

Dear Omar I am part of the Green Stairs Academy Leadership at the Islamic Center of Northern Virginia off of Shirley Gate Road. Unlike most Sunday School programs where you memorize a ton of Surahs you’ll soon forget, he teaches you some core Surahs & learn the meanings behind them. You will also learn the entire Salat in English. You should join this program because there is Pizza. The only reason I’m still here is Pizza. The rest of this class is a decent 6/10, but the Pizza bumps it up to a 6.5.

Honestly, you don’t wanna go here, kinda sucks. I mean if you enjoy wasting away your Sundays when you could be playing Fortnite, that’s fine. This dude will N E V E R let you out, I think I’ll just do what my brother did and just stay here until I leave for college which will be easier than actually trying. I’ll probably just be in here until one of us dies first.

I just learned that he is posting this on this website, so now I’m gonna tell you the good parts of this program. The pizza is pretty good, we talk bout random stuff, and I guess the teacher is nice as long as you do what he tells you to, and make sure you never walk in late to class. If you don’t turn in the essay on time, he’ll make you stand on your chair. This class is actually not that bad, I was just exaggerating because I know he doesn’t like to have lots of students.  HL13

Dear Selim, I would like for you to join my leadership program which is called green stairs islamic leadership Acadmey, also known as GISLA. This program is best for teenagers and this program is about instilling leadership qualities and learning about Islam. We also learn about philosophy and advice about life.

The reason why you should join this program is because it is very informative and you have a chance to increase your knowledge. You will learn about Islam, basic philosophy’s about life, and how to become a leader in your community. We also get to go on field trips to different places such as festivals, events, and different religious places of worship. The reason why we go to these places is to expand our knowledge and to gain tolerance of other faiths.

The things that I would like to warn you about this program is many things. The teacher is a very strict person and expects the best out of you all the time and he occasionally makes fun of you and scolds you. The work here is annoying because we have to write a essay and it becomes time tedious for me atleast. The class gets kind of boring and the class is not organized. The class is also long so I would recconmend to cut it down and make it 2 hours. The teacher is to demanding and expects to much out of you. So If you would like to join this class, be warned because you will have to deal with a very strict and picky man. Sincerely, DJ 17


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