When Death is Real

A Very Dead End

It’s been the worst day of violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict since 1967. The scenes from there look like something directly out of a horror movie. Bodies without parts, parts without bodies. Hundreds are dead, and more than 800 are wounded as of the latest count.

This isn’t fake blood, or plastic mannequins that we’re seeing on the screens in front of us. These are real men, women and children, with real families and real homes. Or at least they used to be.

The question is, how do these things happen? And what are we as parents and educators to do?

Here are two steps we can take to begin making some change in our world:

Step 1.  Stress the commonalities among human beings. Let’s teach our children to focus on ways we are the same instead of ways we are different. When we see what connects us all as humans it quickly becomes much more difficult to hurt one another or think of others as enemies. By rehumanizing people instead of dehumanizing them, we can stop seeing one another as ‘targets’ and start finding our brothers, sisters, friends.

Step 2.  Reduce the violence our children are exposed to on a regular basis. Our children watch TV, go to movies, or play video games where aggression is the main objective, and then we wonder why they don’t feel anything when real tragedies occur. As a society we’ve allowed them to become desensitized to brutality, and many have now gained a false image about how hostility really turns out.   Unfortunately for many there’s a very blurred line between fantasy and reality. The ‘good guys’ don’t actually ride off into the sunset with hardly a scratch on them, and there is no reset button to press to start the game all over again when your guy dies.

There are many reasons for why our world is the way it is today. Let’s decide right now that we’re going to teach our youth to live better among one another than our generation does now. Together we can do it.

By Sonia Dabboussi

Paralysis is Certain

Limiting Beliefs

I had a student a few years back who was deathly afraid of red pens.  Not exactly in the phobia sort of sense, but if you happened to touch his page with a red pen while you were pointing out a correction he would yell and cry.  He’d panic, and then stop everything he was doing and focus all of his attention on that dot.  He’d struggle to erase it or draw on top of it so no one would see it.  Life wouldn’t go on for him until the red was no longer visible.

Why?  Because he needed to be certain that he was doing the right thing.  He needed to know that his answers were correct, and red pen marks made him unsure.  And this child was only six years old.  If he remained that way as he grew, what would the rest of his life be like?

The story below is one I wrote a while back that you can share with your students.  Perhaps it will help some, like my red pen friend, to take a few risks and reach out beyond themselves to be, do and have more in life.  Perhaps you can help your children get past certainty-paralysis to really see, and explore, the possibilities life has to offer.

Rock Solid?  

Imagine this… You have passed back through the ages to the time of the Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam. You have traveled on your camel for days in search of the knowledge that this one man possesses, salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam.

Upon arriving at your destination, you meet a generous family who is willing to open its doors to you and provide you with food and shelter for as long as you wish to remain in the city, alhamdu lillah. When you reach their home, you are directed as to where you can allow your camel to rest during your stay. You dismount, exhausted and famished from your long journey, and begin carefully gathering rocks from the ground around you. One by one, feeling them heavier and heavier as you collect them, you stack them on top of one another in a large square until they stand as tall as you. Finally, with your camel securely within his stone wall, you enter the family’s safe haven to gain some much desired food and water.

Huh?

As strange as the ending of this story may sound, we often find ourselves doing, in essence, the very same thing in our lives. We want certainty to such a great extent that we are willing to do things that don’t even make sense in order to get it. Just as this person wanted the security of knowing that his camel would remain in the same place until his return, we want the security of knowing that our decisions and choices in life will produce the results we want.

So what do we do? We plan and plan but never act. We fill our days with tasks that don’t move us forward but keep us securely where we are now, even though that may not be where we want to be. We delay making choices, waiting for the perfect, and certain, opportunity to arise. But of course it doesn’t.

We need certainty and predictability in our lives because in its absence we are left with only chaos, but at the same time we need variety and ‘spice’ to keep our lives in motion. And that spice comes from taking steps forward when the way is not 100% certain.

One day our beloved Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, noticed a Bedouin leaving his camel without tying it. He asked the Bedouin, “Why don’t you tie down your camel?” The Bedouin answered, “I put my trust in Allah.” The Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam, then said, “Tie your camel first, then put your trust in Allah” (Tirmidhi).

We have to do our part, for ourselves, our loved ones, and for our communities. And sometimes that means not knowing completely what the outcome of our actions will be when we take them.

As we move forward, we may feel that the path in front of us is perhaps scary and unknown, but seeking Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala’s guidance and trusting in Him gives us the certainty of knowing that He will be there with us all the way.

By Sonia Dabboussi

Take it to heart…read, understand, implement

Islam and You

I begin with greeting you with the greeting of Islam, Assalamu Alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatu.

We seem to read so much information these days and don’t always have time to understand it, and with regards to implementing, that’s almost non- existent. From exercise routines, to stress reducers, to the most popular diet tips of the year, month or day, we seem to be bombarded with do’s and don’ts of everything. Let’s put aside all the materials and information outlets on hold for a just a few moments and focus on the following bit of advice.

Reading a hadith of our beloved Prophet(pbuh) and trying to adhere to his teachings can be as easy as one, two, three, or reading it, understanding it, and implementing it.

Take a look at the following hadith where the Messenger (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) said: “The rights of one Muslim on another are six” it was said: What are they O messenger of Allah (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam)? He (Salla Allahu Alaihi Wa Sallam) said: “When you meet him greet him, and when he invites you accept, and if he seeks your advice then give it. And when he sneezes and says al-hamdulillah then say yarhamak Allah, and when he is sick then visit him, and when he dies follow his funeral” (Bukhaarie & Muslim).

I look at the simplicity of this hadith and think how easy they are to implement but how great the responsibility truly is behind the action. I look at what these simple actions are and how we must make a conscious effort to uphold the responsibility behind the trust.

If these are rights of a Muslim, then that means they are a trust and a duty upon us all.

First, when you meet him you greet him. A simple right, but how should that greeting be; a smile, a word, a hug, a nod, and what if you’re not in the mood?

Second, if he invites you accept, but what is the occasion, the time, the date, the place, and is it for or against the sake of Allah?

Third, if he seeks your advice then give it, and we all know its human nature to love to give your opinions about everything. Right or wrong we enjoy telling someone what “we” would do in certain situations and why “we” wouldn’t make the other decision. Are you giving your opinion or sincere and well thought out advice that you yourself would adhere to before anyone else?

Fourth when he sneezes and says, alhumdullah then say yarhamakAllah. Do we take the time to reply or feel silly in paying attention to his bodily function? Are we paying attention that we are actually making a prayer that Allah has mercy upon them or snicker at the sneeze itself?

Fifth, when he is sick then visit him. There are times when we are sick and think we want to be left alone but when someone stops by for even a moment to drop a greeting, or ask how we’re feeling, we forget the sickness altogether. Are we paying attention to the action that we will bring happiness to the one who is sick and remember that we too can ask for them to pray for us knowing that the prayer of the sick is answered?

Sixth, even as one departs this world they have a right upon us to follow their funeral. This is a final opportunity that will bring peace and blessings of Mercy for the deceased who is prayed for by all who attend. We in turn will be reminded of the rights that this person had upon us when they were alive and whom this will be our last opportunity to give them their rights and be relinquished of our responsibility to them.

With rights come responsibilities. With responsibility rights are protected. As we touch all the lives that we do on a day to day basis in the jobs that we perform and even within our own families, we must remember to uphold their rights and take on the responsibility. If we can take one hadith of information a day, read it, understand it, and implement it, we can truly make such a difference in our own lives as well as all those around us.

Amazing Arabic!

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

إنه لمن دواعي الفخر والاعتزاز, أن نرى اليوم أطفالنا- فـي مدرسـة الهـجرة- على اختلاف أصولهم العرقية واللغوية, يتناولون نصا عربيا, ويؤدونه بفصاحة وطلاقة ,لا تقل مستوى عن أقرانهم في بلداننا العربية. وإليكم بعض هذه العروض

click here to listen to an introduction


Begin Your Day in the Very Best Way

The first few minutes of the day set the tone for the next many hours you spend with your students, so it’s important to make them outstanding. Add blessings from the start with Suratul Fatihah (click on the image to read the verse in English, in Arabic or with transliteration).

Suratul Fatihah joins us together from the very start, reinforcing the unity among us. Sitting in a circle on the floor close to one another when we recite joins us physically and spiritually as well. These words are used to begin the Qur’an, so if Allah uses them to start what He has to say, shouldn’t we? We use these words to ask Allah to protect us and help us throughout the day. We ask Him to guide us to the right path and help us walk together as a team, strengthening one another.

Discipline problems melt away quickly just by reminding students of this surah and some related hadiths when children conflict with one another. In this way children go home happy at the end of the day and pass these positive feelings along to their parents and siblings, too.

And what better reward is there as a teacher to know that you have brought both your students and their families closer to Allah today?

By Ferial Daher