Between Dusk and Dawn…

Some *scribble* *scribble* by Ameera

Monthly Archives: June 2007

Towards the Light

I was mulling over the things I wanted to blog about today and there were so many that I couldn’t decide. Then, I remember I’d never really talked about the wonderful weekly Islamic class I go to – Towards the Light. It’s time I share with everyone, the great aspects of this course!

Towards the Light is a three-year Quran course in English run by Al-Huda for busy housewives, working women and students. It’s a weekly course (Saturdays)  so that it’s not difficult for people to attend, especially those with busy schedules. The timings aren’t inconvenient either – 3:00 to 6:30 pm with Asr break is just about perfect for everyone.

The course is run by a team of highly dedicated young volunteers, who, with their meticulous planning and organization, make every part of the experience even more fun than expected. The classes are held at the private residence of the course administrator, Maryam Wasti, whose In-laws have given away a large portion of the ground floor to holding such classes throughout the week.

One wonderful aspect of the course is that it is based on semesters. There are six semesters to the complete course and it’s up to the students to take whichever semester they want, or join in the three-year course at any semester. The successive semesters don’t clash with each other so you never feel like you’ve missed something.

The course structre is really simple too and revolves around the core – the Quran. First, there’s a half-hour Tajweed class, taken by Maryam Tariq. Wow, she’s such an amazing teacher! Her voice is clear and she recites the Quran in a very melodious voice. This term, she taught us the general Makharij (points of articulation of the Arabic letters) and alongside a number of Surahs from the 30th Juz. We also memorized the ninety-nine names of Allah (swt) as part of this semester’s course.

Next, there’s the Quran Reflection class taken by Dr. Imrana Khan – another wonderful experience! There’s a wealth of knowledge to be gained in this class and even people who come for the first time at ‘Listeners’ are taken in by the experience. Dr. Imrana was formerly a Biochemistry lecturer at Dow Medical College and also appeared on TV shows as host/compere. Later on, when she started frequenting Al-Huda, it changed her point of view on life and now, she’s associated with the Islamic organization on a full-time basis. She adopts a very simple approach to the Quran, giving references to authenic Ahadith, historical facts, modern researches, discoveries and current affairs. We cover two Rukuh with her before the Asr prayer break and two afterwards – thus, it’s a two hour class.

Finally, there are the ‘groups’, under the supervision of the volunteers there. The students are divided into different groups, named according to the pious ladies ofIslam… Khadija(ra), Aisha (ra), Fatima (ra) and Maryam (ra). During this group time, of about forty-five minutes, we

  • read through one of the coursebooks prescribed for the semester. These books are based on the theme of the semester. For example, the theme for this semester was ‘Love for Allah (swt), Love for Rasool-Allah (saw)’. Thus, we covered ‘The Muslim’s Belief’ by Saikh Uthaymeen and ‘Following the Sunnah’.
  • discuss the weekly activities. This is another fun bit… we’re assigned a simple weekly activity and we discuss it the following week to see how well we did it. For example, we had one activity where we had to try and eat more Tayyab/pure and healthy food during the week. We also gave up soft-drinks for the week. The acitivies are based on specific Quran ayah covered each week.
  • memorize the word-to-word translations of one Rukuh each week. This has really helped me understand the Quran better! Alhamdolillah, I can now understand quite a lot of the Quran when it is being recited in Arabic. It’s a whole new, wonderful feeling.

 After the group discussion time, we’re free to take refreshments and leave. The enivronment is so cosy and comfortable that you wish the course wouldn’t end at all! There’s a big lawn at the back of the house and at the end of the class, sitting there with the other students in the group discussion is very relaxing.

The course also holds a party each semester – a completely segregated and themed party. Besides the dressing up part (which is always fun) and the food (yummy), there were other fun activities too – a relay race, a quiz, a skit, etc.

If you’ve got any female relatives, friends, siblings, children above thirteen, then this is definitely a course worth-taking! Or if you can’t join the course full-time, there’s always the option of coming as a ‘Listener’.

Here are some details to help you get started:

Venue: House # 12-B, Khayaban-e-Sehr, Phase 6, Defense, Karachi.

Administrator: Maryam Wasti

Volunteers/teachers: Dr. Imrana Khan, Maryam Tariq, Maryam Mansoor, Yumna Akhtar

Semesters: Jan-June, Aug-Dec 

Charges: Rs. 1500/- each semester (includes relevant books).

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At Face Value

Lately, I’ve been waging several battles in the limitless confines (an oxymoron, if there ever was one) of my brain – or rather – my mind. Personal issues, relationships and associations need analyzing, understanding and proper responses. Too science-y?

In simple words, I’m coming to a point where I need to understand the value and worth of relationships amongst people. Whether it be parents, relatives, friends, colleagues… how do I assess people, how do I behave with them? What makes me like them and respond positively? What turns me away from others?

What hit and really horrified me, about myself, was how I was coming to associate the ‘good’ with material possessions and great ‘looks’. You’ve got a good car, you’re cool! You own a great big house, that’s amazing! That automatically means, if you don’t have a good car, a good house… you’re not worth any attention or association.

Most would confess to thinking along the same lines once in a while and they’d also call it pretty normal, or in accordance with our nature, as human beings, to seek out comfort, luxury and what pleases the eye. In other words, whatever comforts our five senses, is perfect!

What we forget is what our five senses perceive are nothing more than that – only perceptions. These pereceptions are then integrated in our brains with other ideas, past experiences and preferences to give the final picture. It is that final picture which we analyse to give the correct response. So it isn’t what our senses perceive but what our minds evaluate that is important to us. And the good news is, we can always alter the final picture according to our views and opinions on life!

Honestly, I figured that out five munutes ago and if you’re laughing at that being ‘so obvious’, you’d better know that there are scores of people who don’t figure that out untill their hair turn white – and some never understand it anyway.  So what good does this do to me, understanding that what appears is not the entire truth of the matter? It does a world of good, certainly.

Firstly, wordly success and owning material possessions is not the idenitifying mark of a good person, a good friend to be with. Sure, it’s great to have a good car and a decent house is everyone’s dream but that’s not the end of it and that’s no basis to judge anyone.

Then, the looks! This goes especially for those who’re seeking life partners. Good looks are NO (with caps) guarantee of a good human being and I’ll vouch for that anyday, having too many experiences in the bag to think otherwise. Yet, when we meet a person who doesn’t fit our mould of ‘perfect’, we’re ready to dump (excuse the word) him/her at this first step. Physical features should then be towards the bottom of the assessment list. What if your idea of perfect is “good looks – funny – optimistic – kind – loyal” and you’ve meet someone who’s all that except perhaps that his looks are not your idea of perfect. If you turn down this friendship, you’re losing out on all the other qualities that were actually important.

Another way to look at this would be to start with your own self – what if I am not acceptable to another person? What would happen if people start assessing me by looking at things I somewhat lack, instead of the great qualties that actually define me? In my own case, I find many such areas where I’m definitely not on the top… in fact, I don’t fit my own mould of perfect – how could I expect others to?

Once you start thinking outside this crazy, superficial box, you’ll see how open the world has become. There are approximately six billion people walking this Earth and without looks or material possessions getting in the way, I’d say there’s lots to chose from!   

More than anyone else, I hope this teaches me a lesson not to judge people by their appearance or the famous ‘first impression’ but rather to understand that in the long run, what’s going to matter is whether I’m a better person through their friendship, or that I am able to enjoy my life fully in their company. That’s what is important and that is something that good looks alone, or a car or a house alone, can never fulfill!

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