Jamal SaidBack to School

by Sh. Jamal Said

Beginnings are times filled with promise and possibility. As summer melts into the fall, our families arrange for the beginning of the school year. During this transitional time students prepare to move to higher grade levels, schools, and new stages of life. Parents offer what support they can in the form of encouragement, advice, and Duaa. It is important to take advantage of this new beginning so the academic year is as productive as possible.

Islam has a long religious tradition of supporting education and the pursuit of knowledge. This tradition dates back to the very first words of this great religion, when Allah (SWT) revealed the word Iqraa (Read) to Prophet Muhammed (PBUH). The opening of communication between the Heavens and the Earth was signaled by this powerful word. To read is not just to gloss over printed words but it is to understand and question. Reading involves reflection and a tenacity to test ideas and push them to their limits; to accept what is sound and abandon what is built on weak foundations. Allah’s (SWT) call to read was a call to question the beliefs that the people of Makkah had inherited with no thought. He (SWT) calls repeatedly in the Quran on those who read, observe, think, and question as the best of people. It is these people who are able to inhabit their faith fully. The return to school is a return to sharpening the mind and training the intellect that is a religious obligation for each of us.

As Americans we also have a responsibility to be educated citizens. This democracy is built on the populace’s ability to make informed decisions as to which representatives to elect. To be able to make informed decisions we must work hard at school and also supplement schooling with a surveying of current events. It is important for us as Muslim Americans to be well educated so we can join the national dialogue on topics that are important to us as a minority community and also as one with global roots.

I would advise our students to go back to school with a clean slate. Do not return with negative thoughts regarding subjects or people. Be diligent in your studies and keep close to your faith, and Insha’Allah you will find success. This success will not only be an achievement for you but for your family and community as well. It will also be an asset to the Muslim Ummah at large, Insha’Allah. I advise parents to be involved in their children’s education and to always be available for their kids even if it is just to listen to their frustrations.

May Allah (SWT) bless our students and educators and make this year a profitable one for them all.

Sh. Jamal Said