In Honor of Our Teachers
Channel: Rania Awaad
File Size: 26.77MB
Today our discussion is on the topic of following in the footsteps of our predecessors and the giants that we ride on their shoulders to do the work that we do.
I was reflecting on this and thinking where exactly to start the conversation and Subhanallah
thinking about where you start with the topic of teachers, you know, and thank you brother Essen for your kind words, and thinking about the different roles that I play today Subhan Allah, and thinking how in this masjid and many of you the sisters I'm addressing here particularly attend with me classes here at the MCC. this very room fills the conference room every Friday night Batticaloa if you couldn't, and I hope inshallah that continues to grow and all the girls that have been served by Bahama Foundation, because MCC has been such a blessing host to the girls and women's work here in the Bay Area. And I think about the 1000s now we've reached the 1000s of girls that we have mentored
through our programs, through our holiday buzz through our camps, through our woman's
to yams and throughout the classes through the hip of school that we run the SubhanAllah. Thinking about what that means when 10 years earlier, there was really no such specific organization set here in the Bay Area for women and girls. And when I think about the legacy and what that means that whose shoulders we're standing on, I have to think, of course, of our teachers. But I'll come to that soon. When I think about the work, another field that's underserved, which is on mental health, and thinking about how to integrate Islamically the work of our predecessors, again, into the field of mental health today, and think about the shoulders that we stand on to do that work. I'm also
reminded of all of our teachers SubhanAllah. Let instructed us not to take things at face value, not to take things exactly wholesale, how you were taught, but rather go back into the tradition figure out what Islam and our great legacy actually said, pull that out and figure out how to implement that into today's society.
Subhan Allah this kind of work is the kind that you have to look. And you think about that journey, you have to figure out who inspired that journey. And for me, subhanAllah I'm reminded with the famous saying of the scholars, but whoever has taught me even a letter
is my master.
And some of the she you would say.
But even if you taught me just a simple concept, you are forever my share. What is the most important concept that each and every one of us here in the room have? Think about it? What is the most prized knowledge and possession you hold today? What is it? Think about it? What is it?
What is it?
La ilaha illAllah Muhammadan rasul Allah, that is your most prized possession, who taught it to you,
your parents, and I think about all the teachers that I've had, and all the scholars who have been blessed to sit on their feet and study. But ultimately, the first teachers, the first my first teachers, the teachers who taught me the Calima, and likely taught you the Kaleena is who
your parents. And I'm reminded that that's where the journey has to start when we first discuss our own journeys into Islam, and into the study and continuation of teaching of Islam. And I'm reminded Subhanallah of my own father, and here I'd like to share with you a story specifically for all the parents in the room. And there are horrible young people in the room. And particularly, as a woman teacher, I want to share you with you the story. My father, when he was maybe in somewhere like around middle school, went to his father and said, I think I want to be a teacher of the dean.
I think I want to study the Dean full time.
His father, mashallah being a solder hamdulillah took him by the hand and walked him to us had a Sharif in Cairo. And they went to the admissions office and said, we'd like to enroll young yesterday in adulthood.
The response was, Well, since he wasn't with us since elementary school, he can't actually be enrolled.
My father was devastated. He was very upset. And it was really the foremost place in Cairo where he was from to study the deen.
But he held it in his heart and continue private studies. And he said that day as a young middle schooler, he made a dua to Allah subhanaw taala and said, yo Allah, if ever my child was to ever come to me one day and say, I want to go study the deen I would let them
fast forward. years later.
And the day came where I was a middle schooler. Subhan Allah, and I said to my father, Baba,
I'd really like to go study the deen. And he said that realization hit him.
And it's like the eye on the Quran.
Well, they said Makoto carry on.
He said, What am I to do?
I made a while to Allah subhanaw taala. But if my child ever were to want to study the deen, I would fulfill that.
And what was open at the time? Was Damascus, Syria.
And Subhan Allah to Allah, what was there was a beautiful tradition for a woman, particularly young girls to go and study the deen to study put on, to do their hip have to work on the traditional classical Islamic sciences to the level of ijazah. And it was beautiful tradition. And I say was because we all know the state of Syria today and I asked you to make dua
out of be Amin.
In that time period of studying the deen, it was a beautiful journey that started when I was a teenager. And the roundabout way of how I ended up in Damascus is also a beautiful story. But what I what I want to share with you specifically here is the kind of teachers that I met when I was there.
Because when we talk about standing on the shoulders of giants, we also have to talk about
how it is we have programs for girls and women alike today that we do.
I'll tell you what I saw, I saw a woman who were Hafi that's of Quran, who are *ing hats are more Hadith that
who were women who held each as, as in and I should translate all of this in touch with and put on who held their Jazz is a licensed and Islamic licensed to teach in FIFA, which is Islamic law, in Hadith, right? In the Quran, and all of the major Islamic sciences. But you know, what I saw, I didn't see them as one dimensional beings, just classes with a teacher, and then you go home, and it's a different life. No, we follow them into the home. And this is the beauty of having a woman teacher is for woman, especially young woman.
And I would be reciting my doing my to see me on my actual recitation of put onto my teacher, while I'm following her around her house. And as she's doing her dishes, or folding her laundry, and every so often I would see the family members of the family go by and life was being lived. And I learned more than just the lessons of a book. I learned how to be a wife, I learned how to be a mother.
And those were more important than the black and white that I was learning in the texts, you see.
And this is why that lesson was so powerful. And why it is the programs we have for the girls tonight, which is modeled on exactly what I saw in Damascus is a mentorship program. It's not just come and learn a couple good words feel good and leave. It's having a son be part and parcel of your life every single day.
The in and out like my teachers and make this dua and say Allah, let our insides match your outsides.
And let our outsides match our insights,
that your true to your deen from the inside out. And that was so powerful about what I saw amongst my teachers, and all the work that I do. And all of us do collectively, it is on their shoulders that they taught us these things. And we have to give thanks, because the Muslim, the Mothman is one who has to give things.
And I think we'll fast forward again, the trip to Damascus continued many, many, many years until the war started, which meant that a parallel to all of my studies, because my parents as much as they it was always a struggle, always a struggle to get to the mosque.
But when I think about
the requests to continue my regular studies, as they call them,
they insisted that I continue my regular studies until the Dean studies were interwoven in with B, high school, college, medical school residency, it was all interwoven in. And when I think about that struggle, I think Subhanallah how we have so much time on our hands that people would say, how does how do you have the time to do what you do? And I say I'm just following what I saw my teachers do. Every single one of those woman even though she was a Hafi, though, or I'm the Hadith, or every type of Islamic scholar there is or multiple. She was likely also a physician or an engineer or a teacher, or she was working in the public sector. And I think about the combination of roles and
then I think about our scholars and how they were we would call encyclopedic scholars
Where medicine doesn't necessarily define me. It is one of the studies I've studied and one of the things I do, and that is how our scholars were just earlier today, sure Hamza was telling me Did you know In Memphis, it was also a mathematician.
I'm not surprised. They were encyclopedic scholars, they mastered multiple sciences. And they were real people in real homes that had families that had children that had parents that they cared for, and children that they cater to Subhan Allah. And now I want to tell you, you know, I would love to talk more and more actually about Syria and the blesser things I want to tell you about one particular teacher.
I share this story with some of the sisters here I think it was last week in our Holika but it really, really hits the heart, really much Masha Allah, it is a story it takes place what I'm actually doing my dyspnea my memorization, to my recitation, rather, to get ready for my ijazah exam. And in this case, it was for the plateau of what ash and I'm sitting in front of talk about giants, one of the giants of Damascus mashallah somebody who all of the woman and all of the men knew to be a master of put on
someone who was so diligent and so well versed in put on that it is said that the that said that is true, but the main in Damascus, the way the setup was, forget receiving your ijazah and put it on is you have to recite to your teacher, then your teacher takes you to their teacher, that teacher takes you to their teacher
until you reach the final
basically the top and we'll put enough put a Damascus which were five and you had to recite to one of the five in order to actually receive your ijazah that had the official cuts and from was audited up off of Damascus. It's a very rigorous process. And so here I am reciting to my teachers, teachers teacher,
and I'm getting ready just about ready to go to the chef and recite So I've prepared for some time and I'm sitting there reciting to her and her haga her presence her the vibes mashallah this amazing person. Despite all of my studies, all I could get myself to read was that
so she, she said on your on your, on your,
you know, take a break, sit, okay? I was so embarrassed, Fashola. She said take a break. And then she decided to like call me this beautiful star Michelle, who decided to calm me down by telling me a story. And she said, do you know my story?
You're a giant?
And she said, No, no, no, no.
I'm also had no idea. I'm also a professor of mathematics
at the University of Damascus, and I have been, and since the 70s, the only female faculty member in mathematics and the Department of Mathematics and diversity of Damascus. I had no idea I was blown away.
Amazed and I'm just sort of punchy said Did you know, I wasn't always a che ha. I wasn't always a mockery, John miasha, all 10 recitations completed in each as on all of them. And she said, I wasn't always this person.
In fact, I came to Islam late, my part came to Islam linked.
And then she said, you know, the, when the wave of feminism hit Damascus, so many of us were taken by it. And all of all of the people that were thought themselves to be educated, and more advanced, maybe socially, economically, we all took off our jobs. And we all you know, and she said, I just was raised in a family that wasn't at all religious. So it's not like she took off her job. She just was raised in a family that wasn't religious. And I thought to myself, I can do what any man does. And I'm going to study the most complicated thing. And so she chose mathematics. And she became very good at it is incredibly brilliant woman, very good at it, that she became a professor, the only
professor was a female in her department in a very male oriented department. And so she said, there are young, and I wanted to affirm that I as a woman can do this right in that kind of mentality.
She said one day, the woman girls of the college came up to me and said,
We want to have there's very few women on campus. We want to have a woman's gathering a woman's talk about you know, being a woman on campus. So she said yes, anything for woman. So, so she met with them. She's been very busy as a professor, but she went ahead and met with them. And so she's sitting in the circle of woman, and she said, I don't know how I didn't realize what I saw later. So here we are. At first the discussion is just going on about academics and being a woman and how difficult it is and so on in education. This is discussions back in the 70s and said, I don't know when the conversation switched from the
discussion of academics to the discussion of the Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu sunnah I don't even because if someone had told me they were going to discuss the Prophet sallallahu wasallam, I would never have showed up.
I was so closed off to this idea.
But as they were talking, as the girls were talking, she said, suddenly, something hit my heart. And it just opened
this heart that had been so close to anything related to religion, to stem to the Prophet, anything was so closed off, and when he Daya is meant to come, the moment and how and that on the tongue of whom it comes with, Allahu Allah, Allah, and it just opened.
And she said, there was suddenly I was hit with this wave of love for the Prophet sallallahu ala he was sending him. And I found myself listening intently. And then I realized, wait a second, this group is almost all HR BS.
And she said, Do you know what I was wearing that day? And this is where the real the real crux of the story is. I said, you could she possibly be wearing? So she says the whole conversations happening in Arabic.
And then when she came to this point, she said, miniskirt.
And I said why?
So in English, she repeats again, miniskirt.
Clearly it showed on my face, I was just
as she said, you know your audio. If the woman had judged me for how I looked, I never would have entered into that room. If they judged me for who's on my just what my outside was. I never would have to be invited in to study the dean. If they had judged me and said, Oh, she's one of those woman. She's one of those feminist. I don't know what woman right? I would never have begun this journey. And there I was fully welcomed by this group. And one thing led to another one halacha led to another one teacher led to another and that brilliance that she took to get a doctorate in mathematics at a time when no other woman had a doctorate in mathematics. Imagine putting that
brilliance into the memorization of Quran.
She became so learned and put on and so accurate in all of her pronunciation, that the shift the head shift that we're receiving Jazza from Rahima Hola, or hemma Humla both of them spawn Allah.
But when he would travel to go on Hajj, even though he had hundreds of students, hundreds of male students underneath him, he would choose her in his post, to fill in for him to give each as on his behalf when she was when he would travel.
That's how qualified she was. And she said, how they judged me how they looked at me and said, Oh, you can enter the monster like that sister, here's a blanket.
I'm being very serious. I tell the story to you, because it really resonates with me. And it resonates the kind of woman that I studied with. And it resonates that anybody this Dean is for everybody. This Dean is accessible to men and to woman. This Dean is accessible to your daughters. This Dean, I'm talking to the woman and and to the men. It is accessible to your sons. It is accessible to kids like me who grew up in America. Right? And subhanAllah there are options. Now there are options to study now.
Here in this country, and I could go on and on about my teachers of Damascus, but I want to bring back to another important teacher will kind of take you from the land of Damascus back to
And here I am. Having begun my initial studies of Damascus, I'm a teenager, I was very young, just a teenager. And my parents just Alhamdulillah said,
they had a group of family friends, like many of you have family friends, they would meet with regularly we'd go each other's houses and so on. And so they said, well, everybody now is a teenager.
Maybe we should make sure that all this Islamic knowledge we've been telling them and their Islamic schools and their Sunday schools and their Saturday schools as we also went to Saturday school,
and all of the extra things that you know, we've been teaching them to make sure it's really resonating. How do you make sure that teenagers really understand the deen that you've been teaching them?
So the the parents that are most in the group decided that each teenager was going to go ahead and give a lecture.
To whom to the parents.
And before I knew what I was picked to be the first one.
I went to my father and I said with my mother, I said I
I don't have anything to speak about. What am I going to talk about? They said anything, anything, everything that you've been, you know, reading and studying and just anything, don't worry about it. Well
All right before that, right before that I had been to a conference, one of my first. And I'd heard some really amazing speakers speak at this conference and it Schiff on outdated himself. So I'm gonna update myself to shuffle. And the speakers were amazing, I'll tell you, I'll tell you my very first, my very first encounter was I was they asked me to volunteer, and to give out little note cards to the people who are sitting in the lecture to collect questions. So here I am with a stack of note cards, and I'm kind of just going around giving different people and then the speaker gets up on the stage. And he starts to speak. And I can tell I can't even begin to tell you the amount of
eloquence and Arabic and the English and the so on and so on. And I had never heard anything like this. I was standing in the middle, apparently, in the middle of the aisle. I was right because I was giving out no cards to where somebody had to tap me on the shoulder and go move.
The speaker Masha Hamza Yusuf. I didn't know who should Hamza was at the time.
And I remember finishing that lecture and running over and we were in the youth hall when the parents were in the adult Hall and running over and going mama mom on it looking for my mom frantically going, there is this person.
And he's a controvert. And he can speak
and he can speak Arabic. Yes.
And he's and it's amazing that she said like you tell you. And then right after that the next lecture in the Arabic Hall, right that was giving the lectures given you're given an Arabic was the same speaker. Sure, Hamza just finished giving us a talk in English and they gave the parents they're talking Arabic.
And then my mother says, Oh,
this is very special.
So I took on that night, I took cassette tapes, back home.
And I also in that conference, heard an amazing other speaker. Really, really taken Subhanallah just amazing. Do you think of the young hearts what what these what these lectures do to young hearts and took on the cassette tape. So back to the story of my father, when he asked me to prepare the lecture, I was looking frantically through the my stuff. I was like, What do I do I need to prepare, I don't know what to pulling books off shelves and figuring out. And then I went through my stack of cassette tapes, and I pulled out a tape titled, whom do you follow?
Whom do you follow?
It was by Imam Suraj Mahesh
which is the other dear speaker that I had spoke that had spoken at that conference and really touched the heart. Do you know what I did? I copied every single line from from his lecture, literally. And in the lecture, I hope you hear this lecture one day, every few sentences, he says whom do you follow? And then he would keep going, whom do you follow and keep going? Mashallah. So I would write whom do you follow for single time. And when it came to my turn that weekend to teach to give the lecture, I held I sat between the moms Hall, the woman where the woman sitting where the men were sitting, they put me in the middle.
And I hold the papers, and I gave my very first lecture ever.
In the words of Edom, Suraj will hatch. Whom do you follow?
Letter by letter, word by word, allegedly.
For especially for those of you been in my Holocaust, and you're all giggling right now. Yes, this is how we started.
Now, fast forward a couple more years, just a couple more years. And suddenly, I am responsible for putting together a minute conference. I'm still high schooler at this point. Minna, Muslim youth of North America, which was a youth conference that continues to happen, and I encourage your children to go and had happened when I was growing up. And I really believe the minnows mshs and these kinds of organizations really a made firm our Islamic identities. So I was in charge of 300 kids 300 teenagers like myself, and I have zero previous experience organizing anything, but to show you where we got our start Subhanallah and the organizer said, Now mind you, this is the before email
before texting before social media before you literally had a landline with the cord. Yes, that's all those cell phones. Just the landline with the cord or you write a letter, handwritten letter, and those were the only ways you communicate with anybody. They gave me a sheet and the sheet literally had the names of different speakers and their phone numbers.
And it said on there things like share Hamza use of phone number, Imam Suraj Allah had phone number of different era completely different era.
I picked up the phone here I am 17 I pick up the phone
Salam Alaikum My name is Ronnie, I'm organizing a minute conference, would you be willing to come Imam Suraj for hajj
who picks up the line on the other end? And he says Mina conference where I say the trait, he says, Put me down.
And that was that. An imam Suraj. Will Hodge shows up to Detroit because a high schooler asked him to speak at a high school conference, not MSA college students, not adults. High schooler he's in New York. He comes out because a high schooler asked him to speak. And if you look at Imam Suraj Bill Hodges itinerary, you will see that every day for years on end, he has been traveling all of the communities of this country.
And the impact he has made an every single one of us without fail. Each of us has stories to share about this person. And probably I'll end with this. But the most beautiful story is that one of our own teachers was speaking this morning and she said to me,
back when I converted in the 80s, Imam Suraj will Hajj was the name. And today Imam Suraj will hash continues May Allah bless him and increase hymns continues to be a name. And all the names in between. There are no longer names. And she said what's the most beautiful thing about that time period, or about about him is the fact that he stayed consistent, consistent, consistent without fail.
And thereby affecting generations of people. I am a nameless 17 year old who am I continue to affect generations of people to stay true to their deen and on their dean and inspire those of us who went off to studies and now people call us teachers. Right? Who inspired us, but like the dua of my teachers, my ochman sides match her outsides and our outsides match her insights. Allahumma Amin, and this is the like, of the Imam Sirajul, hutch, Mela, increase all of our teachers, and bless all of our teachers and bless our parents. You ought to be on our grandparents and our forefathers SubhanAllah. We don't know why it is we're in this room tonight. But think about this, like they say
with the story of Satan, the Musa Fidel, when he said about why are you protecting these young children, these orphans, wealth, and he says, What Ghana what
a woman was Saudi hmm.
And it says in the tough seed that it wasn't referring to their father.
It was referring to their seven for father.
And because of the seven forefathers,
so their goodness, that is why the grandchildren seven generations down were protected.
And the fact that Allah subhanaw taala loves you, each and every one of you, us here today to bring us here to listen to the words of wisdom, and to be on the dean. It may have nothing to do with us.
And it may have everything to do with our forefathers, our teachers, the people who hadn't, maybe less less knowledge than us less obvious religiosity than us but raise their hands and the depth of the night one day and said, y'all Allah protect my progeny. And that's why we're here. May Allah bless them and protect them and protect us and protect our children and our next generations would hamdulillahi rabbil Alameen wa salam Mollet howdy Mohamed Juan early he was the southern edge mine. So now Modicon Warahmatullah