Dear Granada Family,
Assalāmu ‘Alaykum! Human beings are creatures of habit. From the very beginning to the end of our days, we are habitual in nature and as the sayings go “we are what we do” and “we are what we eat.” I, like many of you, have found the pandemic to be a cataclysmic shift in the way we live our lives. To add to this already sizable tectonic displacement, these past few months also saw social and racial discord not seen in the US since the last century and not to mention a looming presidential election that may very well be the most important election in the history of the United States. Day after day, what we knew yesterday has changed today, and what surprised us an hour a ago is nothing compared to what may have just taken place a few minutes ago. For beings that crave habits in our day to day, our ability to manage family, work, and other normal activities has left us seeking answers and if we cannot find answers we seek forms of comfort that we know are not beneficial for our well being.
It has been said that if there is one thing human psychology has taught us over the course of 100 years, it is that we don’t listen to what is good or bad for us. No matter how many studies are conducted that show the deleterious effects of certain foods or no matter what our doctor might advise against, we cave into our carvings knowing full well the food we are consuming is not good for us -- I speak as a victim here as well. We know that oreo and chocolate-chip cookies are not good for us, yet as the Lay’s Potato chip slogan says, “No one can eat just one,” let alone five.
We can say the same about so many other things in our lives outside of food such as binge watching TV shows, scrolling through our news feeds, and a whole litany of other activities that waste away our body as well as our state of mind. And what we have found six months into this pandemic is that we are craving things we know that are not healthy for us. Yet despite the science, we commit to what I will euphemistically call departure of conscience through momentary lapses in judgement. The problem with these moments is that if repeated often enough, momentary lapses become monumental obstacles that become tougher to not only walk back from but walk away from.
I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we are not where we want to be. Although our circumstances, the aforementioned ones in particular, identify the environment that is causing us to behave and act in ways we would not otherwise conduct ourselves, our lives are off kilter and what seems even more harrowing is that this may be the modus operandi for the next couple of years. However, as people of faith, we know that Allah (swt) is in charge and that ultimately anything that takes place in the universe and beyond does not happen without his decree and knowledge.
However, as human beings we have certain powers that Allah has bequeathed upon us. We have the power to will things one way or the other, to will from what is bad to good and even the reverse. Sometimes it’s not simply a binary good and bad, but what can we help go vertical from something that has plateaued. This is where we find ourselves today. We have either plateaued, or find our lives in decline, and the choices we are making (not necessarily the prevailing circumstances we find ourselves in) are the culprit to our well being or lack thereof.
To borrow from Marcus Aurillus who said, “Such are your habitual thoughts, such also will be the character of your mind.” Our lives give us much to complain about, some definitely more than others, and the collective struggle right now compounded with so many other issues is pressing upon the very nature of our ability to deal with even the smallest of things. However, we must always remind ourselves to understand that the struggles are not the problem, it is our reaction to them that defines the very nature of our being and our personal character.
In his (s) famous hadith where Prophet Mohammed (s) talks about man seeking not just one valley of gold to quench his desire for wealth, but would rather seek two -- alluding to the idea that the material needs of man cannot be satiated while he is on earth -- is a clear and present reminder that human beings seek happiness in all the wrong places. Many seek happiness by procuring objects of perceived value, comfort foods, and even drugs. And to refer back to the idea of human psychology in not listening to good advice/nasihah, we need to remind ourselves that we will not be satisfied by the conceptions of material comfort and will want more and more in attempts to fill a void that is humanly insatiable.
Subhan Allah, little do we realize that when we run away from struggles, even away from something as simple as resisting a chocolate-chip cookie, we miss opportunities for building the muscles of mental resilience that will defend us from falling into the pitfalls of momentary lapses in judgement and ironically leading us to deepening levels of despondency.
This current collective struggle that Allah has placed upon us is not happenstance, but seems to be designed to test our will and mettle. Designed to see how we react to changes in our day to day, to remove us from the habits we have been entrenched and even entranced in and see how we react. For our reactions are a tell-tale sign of who we are and what we are capable of, a mirror into the very being that makes us more than just human or even a Muslim, but a mu’min.
Next Week @ GIS:
9/21: Teacher in Service Day -- No School.
Please look out for notifications regarding i-Ready testing taking place next week.
Book Recommendation: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business
This is a spectacular look into the science and psychology of habit. Extensively researched by the Pulitzer-prize winning author, this non-fiction work examines how habits have been formed into a person’s actions and how to form new and long- lasting habits that will yield positive results for your mind, body, and even your soul.
Contemplative Quote: “How are you complicit in creating the conditions you say you don’t want” -- Phil Libin
This quote comes in the form of a question by the co-founder and executive chairman of Evernote. It really addresses the poignant ability of how answers to questions we have can come through the form of questions themselves, namely through questions like this called pickaxe questions -- questions that pick away and reveal something about yourself.
Osman Khan | Head of School