I came into class one morning, excited to take my young students to the computer lab. “It’s computer lab day!” I announced. Just as I had expected, the whole class was excited for change and ready to take the trip down the hall. Well, everyone except one student. He looked at me from behind his glasses with angry eyes, crossed his arms, and firmly said, “No.” I was shocked, and quite frankly, a little upset. I had gone to the trouble to make sure this class had their lab day; I had been excited for them, and now he was looking me in the eye and telling me that he didn’t care?
I took a deep breath, smiled, and asked him to meet me at the side of the room. I kneeled down so we could be at the same eye level and asked him, “What’s the problem? Don’t you want to go to the lab and hear the sheikh recite Qur’an so that you can be ready for your test? It’s always a lot of fun.” Again with full confidence he looked at me and said “No. I don’t want to go. No.”
I didn’t understand. I couldn’t comprehend why he would not want to go, and it wasn’t helping that he wasn’t explaining his case. Some may have thought that I should have just forced him and get it over with, but let me give you a little background on my classroom atmosphere: I teach Qur’an, a Book full of love and mercy from the Lord above. I’ve seen classrooms in which the Glorious Book is taught but it fills children with fear and they do not enjoy what they are doing, at all.
Years ago, I vowed that would never happen in my classroom. Just like the Holy Book is filled with love and mercy, so is my classroom. We have a welcoming and no-force atmosphere. And up until this day, it had been working quite well.
Again, I took a deep breath and leaned against the wall behind me, thinking of how we could work this out. All of his classmates were excited and ready to go. I couldn’t cancel lab day for him, but I couldn’t go against my ‘no force’ atmosphere either. I tried to ask him again, “I’m sorry that you don’t feel like going today, can you explain why? So I understand? Maybe we can work this out.” It was his turn to take a deep breath and explain his frustrations, “Sister we go there every week and we listen to that man. He recites the Qu’ran, and we listen. Just like you said, for each letter he recites he is getting Jannah points time and time again—and what about us? Why should I go and watch this man get points when I could be here in this classroom reciting it myself, and getting rewards for ME!”
My heart almost exploded with joy, hearing how concerned he was for his ‘Jannah Points’ (or Paradise Points, our term for hasanaat or good deeds). I explained to him the reality of the matter, that even by listening he was getting the points he wanted so he needn’t worry.
My student learned something new that day, but it is nowhere near the lesson that he taught me. Sometimes in life we get so lazy that we love to take the easy way out. To make ourselves feel better we cut corners and miss out on amazing ‘Jannah Point’ opportunities. This little boy reminded me that it’s not the most exciting and fun things that should be our priorities in life, rather it is those things that cause us to get closer to God that are the most important. And it’s okay to sacrifice an hour of fun, if in turn we are we working towards an eternity of bliss, by the Mercy of God.