If you are even remotely plugged into any news source nowadays, then you know that there is in an incredible amount of injustice, violence, and wrongdoing that’s relentlessly going on for the past two months, in a small but important particular part of the world. It is not just these past two months; history has it that this has been the status quo of these lands for the better part of the last 75 years. If you haven’t already identified the place we’re talking about, then we’d like you to know that it is the holy lands of Masjid Al Aqsa and its surroundings.
Marred by the global Zionist controversies, lies, and propaganda, the holy lands of Masjid Al Aqsa and its surroundings have unfortunately been gradually pulled out from Muslim jurisdiction and cut off from the global Muslim ummah for decades, through extreme restrictions placed on the movement of Muslims (both Palestinians and others) in and out of Jerusalem etc. With the implementation of devious strategies and Zionist propaganda over the past few decades, the latest generations of Muslims have all but lost the divine connection and the importance of this place to Muslims, that Allah (SWT) Himself has called ‘blessed’ in the Holy Quran.
At Al Manarat Islamic Schools in Mississauga, our educational responsibilities obligate us to re-instill this lost love and longing of Ardh al Sham and Ardh al Muqaddis, in the hearts and minds of our beloved students and their parents. With this intention in mind, the entire student and teacher body at Al Manarat set out on this ambitious journey to educate each other and themselves about the history of these divine lands, their religious importance, and their geopolitical significance in today’s time. The last few weeks of November 2023 saw the creation of four groups of students from different grades into four houses: the House of As Siddique, the House of Al Farooq, the House of Al Hayyi, and the House of Bab Al Hikmah. These four houses derived their names from the titles of the four rightly guided caliphs of Islam: Abu Bakr As Siddique, Omar Ibn Al Khattab, Usman Ibn Affan, and Ali Ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with them all).
Once all the students were divided into these four houses, they were tasked with preparing for the One Ummah One Cause Workshop that would take place over November 24th and November 25th, 2023. Over the month, each house was responsible for participating in various activities such as creating presentations, organizing panel discussions amongst the high school students, producing nasheeds, one-liners, and preparing for the bazaar. Each house was responsible for setting up their bazaar by arranging for or preparing Palestinian ethnic foods, creating handicrafts focused on the Palestinian cultural identity, personalization of gift items for their customers, creating various arts and crafts that could be sold, etc. Each house was led by their own student leaders who were tasked with the responsibility of setting up and tearing down their bazaars and were also financially responsible for generating revenue from their bazaars, with assistance from the teachers as needed.
In addition to preparing for this workshop, the Quran and Islamic Studies teachers dedicated a big chunk of their class time in November to educate their students on the extensive history and significance of Masjid al Aqsa, Jerusalem, and its surrounding lands, which have seen dozens of Allah’s Prophets walk through their streets and valleys, over the past thousands of years. Their educational material focused on everything from the time of Prophet Ibrahim (AS) to the time of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and his night ascension journey, to the time of Omar Ibn Al Khattab’s caliphate (RA) and Salahuddin Ayyubi’s brave conquest, to the Ottoman Empire’s endeavors and eventually to the most recent Zionist movements after World War 2, that shaped these blessed lands into what we see today. To supplement their classroom lessons, the teachers printed out extensive workbooks full of relevant worksheets and art activities that the students could interact and engage with, while learning about the history of Masjid Al Aqsa. This helped the students internalize the material faster and achieve a satisfactory level of understanding on the topics covered.
On 24th and 25th November, the two days of the ‘One Ummah One Cause ‘Workshop, Al Manarat Student Council Leadership Team hosted the lined-up events for both the days and ensured that everything was executed as planned. Both days saw students from all four houses showcasing their weeks of hard work, and the parents were gracious enough to accept being the audience for these planned activities. Younger students did their presentations and one-liners on Friday the 24th of November, followed by the elementary to high school students, who did their presentations, panel discussions, and also hosted the bazaar on Saturday the 25th of November.
Alhumdulillah, we were ecstatic to see that our students managed to generate a net profit of approximately $9000 through successfully organizing and hosting the bazaar for a few hours. It is worth mentioning that this amount is devoid of any donations or charitable contributions from the parents and teachers which were tallied separately. All the proceeds generated from this workshop bazaar were earmarked to be donated to the IDRF, which is one of the Islamic charitable organizations here in Canada, who are working tirelessly to help the Palestinians in any way possible.
On the sidelines of this workshop, we also had a competition running amongst the four Houses to bring out excellence in the students and award the House that would demonstrate the winning criteria for selecting the winners of this competition as follows:
- Generate the highest revenues in the bazaar.
- Garner positive feedback from as many parents as possible.
- Show exceptional organizational skills, marketing skills, and teamwork.
The House of As Siddique emerged victorious in this competition despite not being able to achieve the highest revenues in the bazaar. Instead, they were able to embody strong work ethics and teamwork in addition to generating immense positive feedback from the parents. In order to eliminate any conflict of interest, parents were prohibited from providing feedback on their own child’s House. To mark their victory, the students of As Siddique House were awarded recipients of the Abdurrahman Ibn Awf Entrepreneurship Award that has been established by Al Manarat Islamic Schools as part of our overall drive to increase entrepreneurship in our local Muslim communities here in the GTA, as well as to instill an active interest and admiration of entrepreneurship in our young students.
We believe that taking the time to organize these activities of learning and educating ourselves on Masjid Al Aqsa and its significance, as well as training our students to be self-sufficient, entrepreneurs, and businessowners, will go a long way in supporting the Muslim ummah of the world, as opposed to just being passive participants viewing from the sidelines or simply participating in protests and boycotting against the Zionist agenda.
We’d like to end with a dua for our Palestinian brothers and sisters:
اللَّهُمَّ مُنْزِلَ الكِتَابِ سَريعَ الحِسابِ اهْزِمَ الأَحْزَابَ اللَّهُمَّ اهْزِمْهُمْ وَزَلْزِلْهُمْ~
(Allahumma munzilal-kitab, sareea-al-hisab, ihzimil-ahzab, allahummah-zimhum wazalzilhum)
Translation: O Allah, Revealer of the Book, Swift at reckoning, defeat the confederates. O Allah, defeat them and convulse them.