At the beginning of this year I finally caved in and decided to offer some classes to my community back home. Over the last two and a half years I had received so many requests which I politely declined, now was the time to finally give a little back. However, as a new student with a very weak foundation in my own studies, there wasn’t much I could teach. I thought about Tajweed, Fiqh, Aqidah, or maybe reviewing some of my own notes with them, but I just didn’t feel comfortable teaching anything without license from my teachers.
So I decided to start from the basics. I rounded up a few families in the community, got my Skype account up and running, and purchased this book here, Being Muslim. Why did I choose this book? Because it was basic, and just like I am spending my time here to build a foundation for myself, I want my community to also strengthen their own foundation. When I sent out the initial text message, I received so many responses along the lines of, “Oh is this for children?” or “Should I help you find some converts?” only for me to respond, “No, this is for YOU!”
Many want to study books on Comparative Fiqh, delve into discussions on Aqidah, and memorize the various Maqaamat and Riwaayat of the Quran; However, they still don’t have a foundation in Fiqh and a school of law (in fact they argue whether they should follow one or not). They still can’t tell you what is necessary, possible, and impossible in regards to their belief in God. And if they see some Youtube video saying that Uthman Ibn ‘Affan burnt the Quran and made his own copy, they get shaken up and message me telling me that their faith has shattered and that they don’t know what to believe anymore. Why? Because whoever builds their faith on sand will see it washed away one day.
The same thing happens here in Egypt. So many students come out here with such high aspirations and dreams. They spend a year studying Arabic for the sole purpose of unlocking the doors of the various sciences of Islam, and they end up never perfecting the language. It’s like my English professor told me once, “Arthur you’ve written a beautiful essay like a place with all of this gorgeous furniture and ornaments, but where’s the front door?” I forgot the basics and instead went for the glamor, and if I do that with my studies I’ll have quotations galore but no foundation for a community to build upon.
This book for me was perfect as it brought us back to the basics. Throughout the course all I kept hearing was how great the content was and how they were looking forward to the next class, when at the end of the day we were just using a basic book. We kept it simple, and we practiced what we learned, and THAT made all of the difference.
Back to the basics is my motto of the day. Start at the beginning. Take your shahada all over again, just you and God. No one is watching you. Have you done it? Okay, now grab my hand and lets start over together, “First you need to know that God is the most Merciful and Compassionate, and that His existence is the only thing necessary in this world. Your existence isn’t necessary, you didn’t have to be here. You’re here because out of all of the infinite realities that could have been. . . this universe wouldn’t have been perfect without you. Got it? Okay, now lets go claim our spot in Paradise, God is waiting!”
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