Simply said we’re the generation that gets the majority of all our knowledge from the internet. Including our Islamic knowledge. As someone who cherishes the wealth of knowledge that can be found the internet; the best way I can describe the difference in experience from an online class verses being in a Masjid is the difference between the stars and the sun. You can appreciate the beauty of the stars but there’s a distant feeling to it. Whereas the sun stares you in the face, it impacts you in a greater way, it forces you to respond it to. Both are brilliant sources of knowledge but there is a difference that we so easily forget. While everything is available to us at our fingertips, its empowering but at the same time, there is the understanding that we can’t Hulu-ify our ilm or Netflix binge it. It’s the subtle difference of understanding how to use and maximize our online resources without becoming solely dependent on them.
With that being said, Alhumdulilah I was able to attend the Protectors of Quran program this past Saturday and I wanted to share some of my experience and observations while there in hopes that it might be of benefit to us: the Netflix/Hulu Binge-ilm-seeking generation. These are simple observations, and not “lecture gems” ie: this is what I saw and observed outside of the topic being discussed by the Shayuk that I would not have noticed or observed in an online setting.
1. My teacher sat on the floor. Which is not unusual in the slightest bit. However, what was-or at least appeared to be-was that there was two couches in the masjid. One for Ustadh and one for his Shaykh. His Shaykh sat in the chair and Ustadh sat on the floor. I was sort of blown away, because in an online setting we lose that adab. Not completely-but when you’re behind a computer screen it’s easy to become complacent, easy to want to lay down, grab something to eat, change browsers, be on your phone while listening to an Islamic lecture. I know many of us do not do these things, but this observation was a reminder to myself to respect the ilm being passed along and never to become complacent when sitting in front of the Quran and a teacher, even if it is behind a screen.
2. My teacher hugged people for a long time. After the program my sister and I noticed that Ustadh hugged people that he met with and he hugged them for a long time. We all go to jummah and Eid prayer so you know how it works, you say salam, smile and hug people for five seconds and move on, sometimes the hug is like a pat on the back. From the sisters’ balcony I noticed the elderly “uncles” seemed surprised by it, they even seemed to be stiff at first before hugging back. I was shocked at how the simple gesture had lost it’s meaning. How as a community we claim to love each other and the ummah but doing simple things like offering one another a smile or even a real hug is so rare that it is noticeable and strange to us at the same time. Later I learned that Ustadh was actually giving each person a dua’a.
3. Being in a masjid-as your center of learning vs online (I would go even further to say a masjid vs even a regular classroom)is a totally different ball game. Alhumdulilah, over the past two years I’ve had many transformative experiences that I wouldn’t trade for the world, but omA, I truly wish we could have our classes in a masjid or that each one of us could experience that. Because when Ustadh says, “Might be a good idea to pray two nawafl…” during a lecture and you’re at home and your bed is two feet away, nawafl prayer seems like a pleasant, distant idea. But when you’re in the masjid-there is literally nothing stopping you from making those nawafil prayers, or picking up a Quran and practicing your recitation, but there is something even more difficult to do when you’re at home surround by your “stuff” and that is to sit down, breath deeply, quietly cutting yourself off from everyone and connecting directly to Allah SWT saying “la ilaha illallah illallah.”