Sunday, April 10, 2011

Education or Religion?

Yesterday, our community mosque held its monthly religious gathering (halaqa). This weekend, I had planned to start a 10-page journal that I had procrastinated on, which was due on Monday. The journal was on the book, The Great Gatsby- a book that the class has been reading for a month now, but of course I never even started reading. So pretty much, I was screwed when my Dad told me about this gathering at my mosque- because turns out, we had to be there all day yesterday because the host who is usually there was on a business trip to Calgary.

This is when the question hit me.

Which do I choose- failing an assignment that could drastically change my grade for the worse OR go to this religious gathering with my Dad?

Or an even deeper, more meaningful question would be: Education or Religion?

I decided to go to the religious gathering, honestly only because I wouldn't be able to persuade my Dad into allowing me to stay home.

But the decision turned out to be one I wouldn't regret, and one that improved my faith.

Once I went inside the mosque, my Dad told me that since the regular host was in Calgary, he wants me to introduce the guest speaker. Immediately, I jumped out of nervousness and said I couldn't because I wasn't told in advance. He told me it wasn't that big of a deal, it would just be an informal introduction, and I ignored him and changed the subject.

The time to introduce the speaker came around, and my Dad kept staring at me to go take the role. He came over, sat in the chair behind me and whispered in my ear, "Do you at least want to call the Athan (call for prayer)?". For a couple seconds I looked around and didn't reply, and he asked again. I whispered back that I would. The time came, and my Dad gave me a push on my back to go to the microphone. I stood up, started to walk to the microphone, and heard everyone becoming silent. The moment I raised my hands to my ear and opened my mouth and proclaimed, "Allah hu Akbar, Allah hu Akbar!", the answer had come to me.

It is my faith in Islam that matters over everything else- even education. Because true faith in religion allows a person to be successful in life.

But this isn't the only thing I learned.

Once it was time for prayer, I took a drink of water and put my bottle aside. The imam (leader of the prayer) had took position. He said it was time for salah (prayer). As soon as he raised his hands to his ears, and folded them, my mouth became so dry to the point that I had become immediately dehydrated. This wasn't new though, most people who know me know that I have an addiction to water (aquaholic) and carry it around everywhere. To get my mind off the thirst, I began to pay more attention to the voice of the imam and where I was standing. I noticed I was standing next to my friend who had a partially torn ACL. His right leg was swollen. When he went down in sajda (prostration), he grabbed his right knee in pain. That's when I realized that I wasn't the one suffering. If people with broken legs are able to pray, then I should be able to pray too.

You may assume that I stress over the smallest things, but truly it is the smallest things in life that make the biggest difference.

Fortunately, the speaker didn't need an introduction and started to speak on his own. He said, "I know I came here to talk about the topic 'Islam is the Answer', but I have changed my mind." Instead, the speaker decided to tell the story of Ka'B Ibn Malik, the poet who was punished with silence.

One of the ironic things the speaker said which hit my heart was that if we pay attention to the small things around us, and listen, we will see the signs and answers we ask for.

I asked the question to myself, and I saw and heard the answer. It was just a matter of paying attention. My faith is my education, it is my driving force for peace and prosperity. It's my backbone.

But you may say that it's only me, it's only my level of faith. However, honestly, I'll tell you the truth- whether you have faith that there is no deity or that there are many, it is your faith that will pave your path. It is up to you to pay attention for answers.

So when people like Terry Jones from the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, FL claim to be the ones with true faith, they are wrong. It's because they have never asked a question to themselves, never paid attention to their surroundings, and always made up a flawed answer.

If Jones asked himself "Is Islam of the Devil?", paid attention for the answer, he would realize that it isn't- because people that have true faith in Islam, aren't extremists and aren't terrorists. They are people who come to religious gatherings at their community mosques, meet with other Muslims, believe in their sound creed, and find answers to their questions.

I found the answer to my question, and that answer is something that will remain in my heart. Today is Sunday, and its because I have faith in my religion that I have faith I will be able to finish my assignment.

Practice your faith.

-That's the TFAT.


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