Monthly Archives: September 2013

Qalam Seminary Blog: ‘Girl Day’

As Sheikh ANJ announced the end of class, we closed our books and began packing away our belongings. However, as the boys trickled out of class, the girls remained eagerly sitting in their seats. At last, with the boys gone and Sheikh Abdul Nasir sitting right in front of us, we were able to start our new weekly activity we called “Girl Day.”

The idea behind Girl Day began when Sheikh Abdul Nasir addressed the concerns of us girls regarding disadvantages we must endure simply due to the fact that we are girls. For instance, boys and girls alike go to lectures and sit in halls where they are given equal treatment (or at least most of the time). Then, after the lecture, the boys go and hang out with the speaker where they are given more time to talk to him, ask more questions, and perhaps even discuss personal issues. Meanwhile, the girls have been taken out of the picture.

The matter was brought to Sheikh ANJ’s attention, and as a result, we were given Girl Day. It was a way to compensate for all those instances when the boys would have exclusive time with him; now we had exclusive time with him as well. One day a week, we stay after school where we can ask him anything we want. Moreover, because it is girls only, we also feel comfortable asking girl-specific questions which we normally wouldn’t ask in front of the whole class. Alhamdulillah, we had our first Girl Day this past week and I believe it was a great success and a huge step towards accommodating and addressing our concerns.

 

Qalam Seminary Blog: Getting Started

Can all of my students please stand up.” About 15 of us awkwardly rose from our seats at the end of the session. The females of our class constituted about 25% of the female side of the audience; the males of our class about 95%.

We were attendees at the local MSA’s event. This was the first session of a series of monthly halaqas with Sh. Abdul Nasir, and this month’s topic was love and marriage in Islam. During the session, Shaykh talked about how love is mentioned in the Qur’an, the different aspects of it, and advice on how one navigates college life with these strong emotions. The session was naturally followed by an enlightening Q&A and snacks, but I felt the real benefit from attending this event came from meeting the members of the MSA.

Sh. Abdul Nasir introduced us as his students who would one day be called to give this halaqa instead of him. It was an intimidating an exciting thought – one day, in the near future insha’Allah, I will know enough about Islam to help first myself and others address their day-to-day concerns properly. One day, I will know and I will do.

We spent the week in class studying a series of books called the مبادئ. They are 3 booklets by Dr. Akram Nadwi from the UK written as primers for the different sciences: Usool al-Tafsir, Usool al-Hadith, and Usool al-Fiqh. These booklets were just stapled pieces of paper written for his daughter who was struggling through these sciences as she was studying them. Halfway across the world, we’re struggling through the same terminology and categorizations and history. May Allah make studying His religion easy for us all and reward the scholars for their efforts and precision in these sciences.

It’s sometimes frustrating when we know all these words are not an end result; following the chain of a hadith all the way to the Prophet (S) is not going to help me if I’m not following his actions with my actions as well. However, it is also important for those of us in the class to remember that we can only excel in our actions if we excel in our means to understanding those actions. So I just remember the Arabic expression خذ ما طفّ لك “Take what’s in front of you”, and focus on the task at hand.

After the MSA event, we exchanged numbers and email addresses, and tried to schedule a time when we could meet on a more regular basis. Unfortunately, our schedules conflict and we couldn’t set anything up. We still plan to work with the local community and provide what they need, but in the meantime, I’m happy with studying what it means to be an authentic hadith, with a little bit of love on the side.

 

 

Qalam Seminary Blog: Student Diary

We hope to make this a new series with regular updates from the students at our full time seminary program.

Alhamdulillah, the first week of the Qalam program is officially complete…whew! That was easier than I thought it would be. Needless to say Shaykh Abdul Nasir went easy on us (for now!). It’s been a good experience so far and I hope that’s a sign for the rest of the year. Our class hours are from 7:30am to 1:00pm with the rest of the day to be used for reading various texts (in Arabic, gulp!). The campus has been made amazingly comfortable and welcoming (look for pictures soon). Shaykh Abdul Nasir wasn’t planning on any decoration and wanted us to study on the floor, ol’ school style! I don’t think Br. Abdullah would have that. Thanks for the comfy sofas! It’s cozy and intimate and allows for great one on one interaction with our teachers. There are a little less than 20 students in the class, half of which are brothers and the other half obviously sisters. It’s been a comfort knowing how down to earth and welcoming the students have been. It’ll definitely make the program easier knowing there’s someone there to lean on.

Since Sh. Abdul Nasir was welcoming us gently, we focused on just one text this week: أيها الولد (My Dear Beloved Son) by Imam Ghazali. It’s a series of letters filled with advice that Imam Ghazali imparted to a student of his who had studied with him for 30 years. Having had a close relationship with this student and considering him like a son, he had no qualms about giving him a verbal lashing. It was a great and fitting way to start off the program. It definitely put us in check (which is something I know I need). There’s a lot of beautiful advice though. He pretty much tells him the studies he completed mean absolutely nothing if not acted upon. He goes back to basics which is the beauty of it all. It doesn’t matter how many daleels you know, or how many hadiths you’ve memorized, or how awesome your halaqa is. At the end of the day it’s all about purification of the heart and soul; and along with good deeds, you have a chance of earning Allah’s loving mercy. This is being said to a student of knowledge of 30 years! Needless to say it was a humbling experience for us youngins.

In addition to that, we had a discussion session about “what’s in the news”. We’ll be doing this on a weekly basis to discuss contemporary issues affecting the Muslim ummah both locally and globally. Under the guidance of Sh. Abdul Nasir, it was a great way to discuss our views and opinions about these matters through the lens of Islamic principles. I can easily see this becoming one of my favorite classes as you don’t always have the opportunity to discuss these issues in a mature and objective setting. Alhamdulillah there was a lot of meaningful discussion from the whole class and I look forward to learning a lot from my classmates, in addition to Shaykh Abdul Nasir, which goes without saying.

It’s truly an amazing thing to have the opportunity to enroll in on-site Islamic Studies program without having to relocate to a foreign country. Studying what is considered to be the inheritance of the prophets is a daunting task and to be able to do that in a society I’m already familiar with and with a shaykh I trust is truly a blessing. I ask Allah (swt) to always make me truly grateful for this opportunity and to show my gratitude by serving Him and His deen through the knowledge I gain.

Please keep all of us in your dua’ especially for sincerity & the wisdom to use what we learn properly.

 

 
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