Saturday, 26 January 2013

The Beauty of Having Good Adab

My mom always reminds me how she had the worst pregnancy with me. Out of five pregnancies, I tortured her during my luxurious stay in Hotel Womb. What did she expect? I’m not your average Jane, so of course carrying a legend would be too much to handle lol. There is one story though that really gets me all emotional. My mom was nine months pregnant with me and was walking with my brothers from the clinic to the bus stop which was a long walk. Back then in January it used to snow a lot and there would be inches of snow to walk through. When she finally arrived at the bus stop, my oldest brother who was less than three years old was completely wet from waist down from all the snow. My other brother was less than two years old and he was in the stroller which my mom was having a hard time pushing. As she was waiting at the bus stop as cold as an ice popsicle, a Palestinian man who owned a store in front of the bus stop invited her inside the store to stay warm. He took my brother’s pants and socks off and put them on the heater to dry. He told my mom to stay inside the store until the bus arrived. What did he do next? He went outside and waited at the bus stop and when he saw the bus approaching he went back inside and helped my mom get on the bus with my brothers. For the past twenty nine years, my mom has constantly made du3a for that man. Imagine someone making du3a for you for almost three decades and you have no idea. It is the simple acts of kindness that matter most and are never forgotten. If that man is still alive, I pray he lives a long and healthy life. If he has already passed away then may he rest in peace and be from the inhabitants of Paradise.


Touching Hearts

Touching hearts.

As she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children an untruth. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same. However, that was impossible, because there in the front row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy Stoddard.

Mrs. Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he did not play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. In addition, Teddy could be unpleasant.

It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X's and then putting a big "F" at the top of his papers.

At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child's past records and she put Teddy's off until last. However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.

Teddy's first grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is a bright child with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners... he is a joy to be around.."

His second grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle."

His third grade teacher wrote, "His mother's death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best, but his father doesn't show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren't taken."

Teddy's fourth grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't show much interest in school. He doesn't have many friends and he sometimes sleeps in class."

By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except for Teddy's. His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper That he got from a grocery bag Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle of the other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one-quarter full of perfume.. But she stifled the children's laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist. Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, "Mrs. Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to." After the children left, she cried for at least an hour.

On that very day, she quit teaching reading, writing and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children. Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her "teacher's pets.."

A year later, she found a note under her door, from Teddy, telling* her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.

Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in life.

Four years after that, she got another letter, saying that while things had been tough at times, he'd stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he had ever had in his whole life.

Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor's degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had. But now his name was a little longer.... The letter was signed, Theodore F. Stoddard, MD.

The story does not end there. You see, there was yet another letter that spring. Teddy said he had met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit at the wedding in the place that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom.

Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. And guess what? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. Moreover, she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together.

They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson's ear, "Thank you Mrs. Thompson for* believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference."

Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, "Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn't know how to teach until I met you."

(For you that don't know, Teddy Stoddard is the Dr. at Iowa Methodist Hospital in Des Moines that has the Stoddard Cancer Wing.)

Warm someone's heart today. . . pass this along. I love this story so very much, I cry every time I read it. Just try to make a difference in someone's life today? tomorrow? Just "do it".

Random acts of kindness, I think they call it?

"Believe in Angels, then return the favor."

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Roses from the Prophet SAW

Monday, 7 January 2013

Shaykh Rizwan's Timetable of Study

Last week, in the Tradition of the Scholars module, we covered the topic of 'The Student'. 

It brought to mind an extraordinary conversation (conducted more like an interview!) I recently had with Shaykh Ruzwan about his timetable of study when he, himself, was a student at the prestigious and highly-regarded institute of education, the Madh al-Fath, in Damascus, Syria. Reading it will help you understand just why the standard of the course material and presentations produced by Shaykh Ruzwan for the iSyllabus is so excellent. 

I asked him what time his lessons started and finished, when he had his breaks, meal times, private study, etc. to try and get an idea of how his days as a student compared to today. 

His period of study at the Institute begun at 7am up until 2pm, during which he covered various subjects in the Islamic sciences. After Zuhr prayer, he would take a short nap or rest, then get up and embark on some private study, going over and preparing for future lessons. This lasted up until Maghrib prayer and included a short and very simple meal he would muster up before he went for prayer (coincidentally his diet, as advised by his teachers to all students, was very simple and meat was eaten on average once every 3 months). After Maghrib, he would attend some private lessons with other teachers followed by Isha and by 10pm he would retire to sleep. Such was the regularity of his routine, the Shaykh would be asleep by 10.02pm! 

I then asked the Shaykh how long this routine lasted and was gobsmacked at his answer: 7 YEARS! He would return home for a short period of 2-3 weeks every 2 years and upon hearing this I breathed a sigh of relief at finally being able to attribute a sense of normality to him. But no. His returns to the UK were always planned to coincide with a period of renovation and restoration work he and his brother-in-law had arranged. So rather then seemingly return for a break, he actually worked as a skilled house renovator, painting, plastering and the like to earn money to finance his studies abroad. The Shaykh's studies abroad were always financed by himself. 

At this point I would like to point out the Shaykh was reluctantly answering my probing questions and there was a visible sense of humility apparent in all his answers. 

In Syria he told me how he once fitted a whole kitchen of an old woman, his landlady, as a thank you gesture. I asked if he took a break from his studies to do so as how else would he have found the time. He just smiled in response. 

From Shaykh Amer Jamil from I Syllabus