By Faten Abdelfattah
I am very excited! After many months of reading and close reviewing with Shaykh AbdulNasir, we finally get to graduate to independent research. Having the ability to navigate classical and contemporary texts from prominent scholars and hunting for the gems they offer feels like we’re growing up. I couldn’t have imagined doing this a mere four or five months ago.
This past week we started a new project that requires each student to independently research resources and present his or her findings to the class. Now doesn’t sound that exciting? Well, it actually is when the topic happens to be exploring the Names of Allah (SWT)! Each student has been assigned at least three or more names to present periodically over the next few weeks. This coincides perfectly with a new class we recently started: Aqeedah (Creed) Studies. We can easily get lost in the technicalities of what our creed is or is not, which scholar said what, or which school of thought declared the other to be a “deviant”. However, this project is a refreshing way to be able to take a step back, draw closer to Him (SWT) through His Names, and remember what “Iman” truly is.
While hacking away at the texts, page by page, jotting down points, hadiths, and scholars’ comments, I was taken back to my undergraduate days of research papers. I remember sitting for hours, reading page after page, and gathering evidence to support my view. Then I was struck by one important difference: I’m not writing about some novel a dead guy wrote a century ago or theorizing about the impact of current events, I’m reading about who my Creator is. What He (SWT) has told us firsthand about Himself in the Book we read every day. What His Messenger (PBUH) imparted upon us in an effort to get us closer to Him (SWT). My purpose should not be to put some words together, present a view, and hand in yet another assignment. The words I’m reading should be changing my life. I should be reflecting over what the scholars have said, what gems I can draw from a hadith, and how a particular Name of Allah (SWT) impacts me personally. It’s a blessing to know that we’re not just working on a mundane assignment, but rather one that has the potential to make us better people, better believers, and better slaves of Allah (SWT).