Seerah Intensive 2014

I wanted to write this post to share a great opportunity that I’ve recently experienced just so that you guys could become aware and maybe even take advantage of it.

Over the winter break, I went to Texas for two weeks to learn about our Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. This course was taught by Sheikh Abdul Nassir Jangda as a part of Qalam Institute. It was two weeks long for about 7+ hours a day.

I have to admit that when my brother offered me this experience I was worried that I wasn’t going to benefit from it. I felt that I was going to go and learn all of the things I already knew about Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. In some ways I had a script memorized in my head when people asked about who he was, “He’s our prophet, he went through a lot, and we love him more than ourselves. He was an amazing person.” And if anyone would contradict than the rebuttal would simply be, “He’s amazing,” and “How dare you?” without really a true understanding of him, his life, what he accomplished or what he signified. I knew that I was supposed to love him, but I had gotten and given so many of these responses that he didn’t hold a special place in my heart.

When I had tried to study him before I ended up understanding him even less, and decided to just leave the matter until I understood it more. Finally, I was blessed with this chance and I felt that this was an opportunity for me to renew my heart and to understand my religion better.

It was without a doubt one of the most eye-opening experiences I’ve ever had. It answered so many of my little nagging doubts and questions. I wish I could go into detail and explain every thing that was so amazing about learning about him, but as its something personal and quite subjective, its a bit hard to do.

I’m a natural born feminist. When I was four, my father enrolled me in Kindergarten in Pakistan. When he came to pick me up later in the day and asked for Ayah, the administration told him that they didn’t have a student with the name Ayah. This confused my dad since he’d just enrolled me that morning. So he described how i looked and what I was wearing until they finally recognized who he was talking about, and they said that I had refused to be called Ayah, and had changed my name to Ay in the official records. Being born in Jordan, in an extended family who had huge gender lines, I always hated being a girl. I felt like it was a disadvantage, and that women weren’t treated well. And I grew up feeling that and this feeling simply grew as I went through major milestones. I believed in God and most of my religion so I didn’t know how to respond to many of my little doubts.

One of them was the issue of women not being allowed to rule. I was trained with the answer that women are emotional creatures–this didn’t make sense to me, because I had seen men more emotional than women… I didn’t think that ALL women were necessarily emotional beings. As we went through the course, Sheikh Jangda stopped at this point and explained it. He said that the ONLY hadith ever mentioned on this topic was:

”A nation which placed its affairs in the hands of a woman shall never prosper!’(Al-Bukhari, Al-Jami` as-Sahih, hadith no. 4425)

The hadith seems pretty clear about this. However, its the ONLY hadith and there are no verses on this issue. Also, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said that in response when he was told that the Persians had appointed a woman as their leader. This “woman” was six years old, and the Prophet ﷺ was foretelling the Persian Empire’s demise. There are a few more details on this topic but it had nothing to do with womens’ capabilities in general with ruling.

The clearing of this misconception leads to another issue which the Sheikh repeated several times. And that is people using Islam and the Prophet’s life in vain for their own needs, i.e. winning an argument. Because of this, and because of studying material without any understanding of the Arabic language or Pre-Islam culture, a lot of misconceptions and misunderstandings arise. The Quran came down at the height of Arabic literature, and we hear of SO MANY people who became Muslim the moment they heard the Quran recited. How often do we hear the Quran and feel as strong a conviction as those in the time of the Prophet ﷺ ?

That’s because we don’t know the language (even the Arabs). There are so many little details that are so profound that we don’t even know that we don’t know them. So how can we as a people simply read the Quran every week, or read a hadith or so, and think it’s enough to know the religion and argue using it? We don’t even know the basics!

This experience was an eye-opener to me and expanded my love for the Prophet ﷺ a million-fold. You know how we go to events held by self-help book authors? How we go/listen to TED talks to be inspired? How we read books on how to achieve happiness? Well you’ll achieve ALL of that by going to this. I kid you not, simply having the chance to hear the stories of a person as amazing as the Prophet Muhammad was a tremendous honor. Change your life, and attend all possible events by the Qalam Institute. Go ahead and learn how amazing our religion truly is.