Thursday, April 09, 2009

U of T

I was given the opportunity to speak in a class of U of T Education Students (who are about to become teachers) today. One of my girlfriends is a convert and student in the class and was asked to speak about Islam. I was invited to go as well, in the hopes of answering questions and creating understanding for those teachers if they have Muslim students in their classrooms. 

Between my nerves and the general tone of the class, I don't know whether it was effective or not. Hindsight is 20/20 and I am replaying moments wishing I had added comments or made points that may have been far more beneficial. One thing that I mentioned but I don't know if it was properly heard amidst the many questions  and comments in the session was this-- And this is really crucial... 
It is really impossible to look at Islam through the eyes of a non-Muslim and to be able to understand it as a Muslim understands it. This is because coming from various cultures and backgrounds we have biases and opinions that create filters on how we view certain points. Likewise, me being a Muslim will likely not be able to understand a point about a non-Muslim value system that is opposite of a practise within the religion. (A convert may or may not be the exception to this.) Those in the West worship their freedom, wealth and liberties, while Muslims worship Allah. Allah has outlined the way we should live and as a Muslim it isn't problematic because we strive for adherence to our religion, not for personal gains and accomplishments. While the non-Muslim works towards gaining freedom, idependence... the list could go on and on, the Muslim works towards a mastery of the self which is complete worship of our creator. I just want to highlight this again, as the point of my presentation to the class today was not to come to an agreement.  It was to present the information of the Qur'an and the Hadith (the sayings and actions of Muhammad (May Allah's peace be upon him) with truth and accuracy so whether or not a person accepts or believes them, they will know what their students, and Muslims believe. God willing this was taken from today's presentation and the class did leave with a  specific knowledge about Islam and its practices and not anger that there was disagreement and we didn't all see eye to eye. 

The other thing that I pray for, is that when one of these teachers has a student that comes to them telling them their hijab was ripped off by someone, or that they were called a camel-jockey, or that they cannot do a particular assignment because it is against their religious beliefs, that they will be met with sensitivity, support, and respect. Being different isn't easy, and being different and hated by a lot of society is especially difficult. Be a safe person to those students-- 

I am very greatful for the opportunity I was given to speak in the class today. Any goodness that comes from it is solely from Allah and any error was mine alone. 


Nichole said...

Asalaam Walaikum Sister,

You did fantanstic. I wouldn't have survived without you. Allah (swt) has really given you wonderful knowledge and an ability to speak brilliantly.

There are always going to be things we wish we could've said better, but I feel from everyone's reaction that it was a success. (InshAllah).

Thanks again,
In Islam,

Anonymous said...

Hi Jenny,
I was one of the students in your audience yesterday. I am grateful for your time and commitment to explain your views and your beliefs. Thanks!
Explaining religious beliefs to anyone is very hard. Muslims are not alone. In the same boat are members of other religions who follow their beliefs and have to justify themselves again and again to others who don't. As you said in your blog, it's hard to understand when you're not wearing the shoes. But I don't think that is relevant. I don't need to understand fully or accept your beliefs and traditions, I have to respect them as long as they don't create harm to others.
Your message of tolerance and understanding is what matters. A message that applies to anyone who is discriminated against (blacks, Asians, Latinos, Jews, anyone!). Your efforts were good to make people think about the specific challenges a Muslim student in our classrooms could be facing.
It won't be our job to support their journeys in Islam, but to support them, as any other human being, when faced with hatred and discrimination.
All the best,

Anonymous said...

Hi Jenny,

Just to let you know, after you left I told Nichole how impressed I was with your incredible public speaking skills and your dedication to helping us all live together in peace. I learned ALOT. I will admit I knew nothing about Islam before. I also didnt know how close it was to Christianity! It really was an eye opener. I think nothing in the world is evil or bad or means to be anyway.I think what happens is we dont understand each other, and that leads to the problems. Thank you for showing me, in a nutshell, some misconceptions that I may have had and helped me to find the truth about these "differences" that I didnt understand. I actually went downstairs right after and told my friend all about it! haha :) Thanks again, Jenny D.

s.a. said...

Salaam alaykum,

Hey, Jen,
We always wish we could go back and do it again, but inshaAllah, you did what you could! Just take any lessons learned and apply them the next time.


SuzanneNoor said...

Selaam aleykum Sister. May Allah continue to bless you with the ability to have an impact upon the way other people respond to Muslims. Jazak Allah Khair.

Anonymous said...

Salamou Aleikoum Jenny,

It's your sister in iman Hanane here. I wish I was at your presentation! InshaAllah some day I will be in the same city as you so we can catch up, and then you can teach me ;)
Good to read you, xox