Monday, October 22, 2007

Junkie

When a friend of mine asked me a few nights ago if I was interested in an 'aqeedah* class for college students, I asked: who is teaching it? and when is it?

To answer the first--the imam. I might not have explained on my blog how much respect I have for this man, for his knowledge of Islam, for his manners, for the gentle way he gives advice. Whenever I can, I attend two different classes he offers, one specifically for sisters that is Riyadh-us-Saliheen, and another that is on Qur'an (which seems to be regularly canceled as soon as I make it a habit to attend--no class for the last three weeks, for example.) I love the classes with the imam, I really do; I should say his English isn't the best but I hardly ever have a problem understanding him and because he speaks with knowledge and conviction, his message is clear and powerful. And his manners are just impeccable so I love going to his classes even if I don't learn anything new as far as the hadith or Qur'an, because I can still learn manners from him, alhamdulillah.

The second answer was that it's on Sundays between maghrib and isha... which is excellent timing for me--it's a time I'm typically free.

So here's a class that I'm interested in, with a sheikh I adore, at a convenient time, so I'm like hey, sign me up! And I literally cannot wait for this class to start--will be this Sunday inshaAllah.

What's interesting though is that I just did get an email about it through the MSA announcing it, which described the class as "a serious educational course for people who want to go beyond the basics of Islam." Beyond the basics of Islam? Aqeedah? My understanding was that it was actually obligatory for all Muslims to understand aqeedah--is that wrong? Isn't that an interesting way to describe a course? I'm afraid that it might discourage people from taking it who should. Yet, at the same time, it might encourage people to take it who are more serious about Islam. We'll see how it goes inshaaAllah.

I know I'm excited about it, regardless of the level of the class. Like I said above, if nothing else I can learn more etiquette from the sheikh, but I think I will learn plenty inshaaAllah. This week there is a "sample class" and a meeting during the MSA meeting to discuss the objectives of the class. I'll miss it because I have a meeting scheduled at the same time to plan a party for new muslimahs. Actually, the meeting is to set the program, and I'm the MC for the event so I need to be there and iron out some details to ensure that well-meaning sisters don't charge the stage to embarrass themselves and other guests, the planning committee, or all Muslims. This is new for me... and I ask Allah to help me. :-)

*'Aqeedah is Islamic creed

8 comments:

MyHijab said...

Isn't it great knowing that you can ask your Imam any question or ask for advice and it will be received with the utmost respect?

I have to admit that i LOVE being called sister. I mean I have 2 sisters and 2 brothers so I am a sister to a fair few (lol) but still, every time i am called sister, I feel so .... I suppose i feel proud.

Anyway, I liked the way you spoke of the Imam. They are some of the most admired characteristics of a person; in my view.

brnaeem said...

AA- Amy,

"Beyond the basics of Islam? Aqeedah? My understanding was that it was actually obligatory for all Muslims to understand aqeedah--is that wrong?"

As I understand it, Aqeedah is a very deep science. Obviously there are the basic doctrinal beliefs that every child learns in Sunday School (ie. believe in Allah, Angels, Books, Prophets, Day of Judgment, Qadr/Qada).

But at the same time, there are more serious (more contentious) issues that may be aptly described as 'beyond the basics' - issues that have been argued over for centuries (and imo, are more divisive than beneficial for the layman).

and Allah knows best.

Amy said...

AA Myhijab --

I like being able to ask the imam questions, but I always feel like I don't get enough time to talk to him or learn from him.

On the other hand, I kind of don't like being called "sister." It always strikes me as strange when I hear it. And I knew a guy my age who would always refer to me only as "Sister Amy." It took some getting used to and still I feel kind of weird to be called "Sister" all the time... hm. Nice comment though; thanks.

Amy said...

AA Naeem -

Every child learns that in Sunday school? Something I learned doing the MSA da'wah table (and other da'wah but that in particular) is that while you might THINK everyone knows these 6 articles of faith... they really don't. I really don't know much about what goes on in Sunday schools for Muslims. (I went to Sunday school as a Christian and remember choking on marshmallows, competing to see who could list the books of the Bible the fastest, playing Bible jeopardy...)

Aqeedah I understand to be that, especially the names and attributes of Allah... Muslims should know this much. They all should. And not all Muslims go to Sunday school. Converts will typically be exposed to this while getting da'wah, but it's really important after becoming Muslim that they take a class to learn 'Aqeedah because sometimes what seems so obvious isn't really. We offer a class in it for sisters, the first level of an Islamic studies class (that all new Muslimahs are encouraged to take) is just aqeedah. So anything in Islam can be a 'very deep science' but I think it's pretty essential for Muslims to know what they believe.

How can you (not you, but anyone) say you are a Muslim if you don't know what Muslims believe? And it's easy to say "Oh I believe in ..." without even having a good understanding of that "..."

If Muslims are obligated to learn their deen, I think that's definitely part of it--knowing what they believe.

Learning how to practice properly, and knowing what they believe at more than just a superficial level. That should be the bare minimum, in my opinion, and that's what I was trying to say. That everyone should understand their creed, Islam, and what they really believe.

And you know, if laypeople did understand that, maybe they wouldn't be so quick in making takfir or issuing personal fatwas or insulting scholars.

And I still don't know what these kids learn in Sunday school, but I get the impression from the current MSA, I will tell you this much, that Islam seems to be nothing more than a set of rules, "don't do this" rather than a way of life, with beliefs and conviction in those beliefs.

yasi said...

MashaAllah you're the MC for the New Muslimah Party--I can't wait!! P.S. Thanks for that link on Ron Paul.

Amy said...

Salaam Yasmin --

You're welcome for the link, and I can't wait to see you at the party inshaaAllah!

brnaeem said...

AA- Amy,

"I think it's pretty essential for Muslims to know what they believe... How can you (not you, but anyone) say you are a Muslim if you don't know what Muslims believe?"

But isn't that such a vague question? What is essential?

While one person may claim that we must understand 'where is Allah' in order to have sound Aqeedah, the other will say that we only need to know Allah is one.

I recently heard that Sh. Nuh Keller said the aqeedah that a 10 year old can understand is sufficient for the general Muslim.

That's basically what I meant when I made the Sunday School reference. I didn't mean it literally, as you are right that most Muslims (converts or not) don't attend SS.

I tend to agree with that more simplified stance as I've seen way too much bickering over the finer details of aqeedah...

In the end, I agree with you that Muslims must learn about their beleifs, but my question is, to what extent?

Amy said...

AA Naeem -

I think I disagree with the sheikh. I think a Muslim should know enough about aqeedah that he does not casually fall into kufr. Maybe a 10 yr old could know that much, maybe not.

I'm not talking about the particularities that cause people to bicker, and I do think that what people should know at a minimum isn't very complex (i.e., Sunday school) but I think that they don't know it!

I don't really know 'to what extent' Muslims should learn, but if you want to know what I really think... and maybe you do... the answer is, quite simply "more."

To a greater extent than they currently know. And they should keep learning. I don't think there is anybody on the planet who has any right to say that he has learned enough about his creed that he doesn't need to learn anymore.

That's my opinion.