Major: Semitic Philology
School: Bayyinah Institute Dream Program
Sponsor: Bayyinah Dream Program
Peer Educator at NYC Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence.
Bio: My story can best be captured by Allah’s words when he says: “Call upon Me; I will respond to you.” [40:60]
After growing up with virtually zero Muslim friends, I quickly realized how little I knew about the religion I claimed to follow. Despite my Palestinian heritage, I didn’t even the how to read the Quran! So I asked Allah to further my knowledge in His Deen, especially in the study of His Noble Book. He answered me by making available to me an Arabic class in my first year of college, wherein the teacher, who ironically had no interest in Islam, inadvertently taught me the basics of tajweed.
My hunger was soon renewed when I started to doubt the capability of a translator to capture the subtleties of Allah’s message. I knew there had to be a reason that Allah sent the final revelation down in Arabic, and not any other language. But my very basic level of comprehension didn’t allow for me to understand the Quraan on my own. So I asked Allah again to further my knowledge of His Deen, especially in the study of his Noble Book. He answered me by causing me to stumble upon a weekly class on the tafseer of Juz’ Amma at a masjid not far from my home. It was in this class that I found my appreciation for the words of my Lord, who chose every word He revealed with a wisdom. I also quickly recognized the fact that studying the Deen of Allah is like a pit of quicksand; The more you learn, the more you realize how much you actually don’t know. And I knew that the only way I could live up to my ambition was to recalibrate my priorities and restructure my approach to my academic and professional careers.
It was at this point that I switched my field of study from Political Science to Linguistics, with a concentration in Arabic and Hebrew. And after I graduated, I enrolled in Bayyinah Institute’s Dream program to immerse myself in the language of the Quraan. With this I hope to study Allah’s book to the degree that it deserves, while also studying the texts of the other Abrahamic faiths. Such knowledge and effort is essential to the advancement of interfaith efforts and the building of bridges between our communities. And it was also at this point that I decided to use my part-time job, facilitating workshops about Domestic Violence and Healthy Relationships for the NYC Mayor’s Office as a tool to educate my community about the balanced way of life that Islam teaches and commands. I hope to use my experience teaching with this program to develop effective way of teaching Allah’s book. And I ask Allah to further me in the knowledge of His Deen, especially in the study of His Noble Book.
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