• Osman Khan

On This Day - 9/11

Dear Granada Family, 

Assalāmu ‘Alaykum. I pray that all of you are in the best state of health and imaan! As Head of School, my role is multifaceted, and it is my hope that these weekly communiques fulfill two parts of those various facets. One is simply a conduit, and as the word conduit suggests, I am responsible for relaying pertinent information such as events, meetings, and other goings on in and around our school community. However, the second part is something much more important; one that brings on a very different level of responsibility, and that part is: the catalyst. 

Acting upon fulfilling the mission of the school, it becomes my responsibility to help develop the vision of how the school is going to achieve those goals. The vision becomes the how to the what (mission), and for that to happen, the catalyst serves as the change agent to help facilitate the direction the school needs to move. 

How our school moves towards its goals is an essential component of our function as we are responsible to help our children understand and engage in a world that is constantly evolving. Shaped by the past as well as the present, our Muslim-American children have to understand who they are and the foundations they stand upon as they move towards what is more evident day by day: a nebulous tomorrow. What they become tomorrow is shaped by what happens today, and what they do tomorrow, starts today. Therefore, for the families that have entrusted their children under the guidance of Granada, our aim is to equip them with the tools they will need to help them as they travel on a perpetually altering social, religious, political and geo-politcal landscape. 

This brings me to the main topic that is most likely on people's minds today: 9/11. Today marks the anniversary of a tragedy that unfolded before our very eyes 19 years ago. Without a doubt, the act in and of itself was beyond comprehension as well as heinous and criminal. Recalling memories from that day, I remember heading to my job that morning as a first-year teacher at an Islamic school in Southern California. On my drive to the school, I heard about what was transpiring in New York as well as the knee jerk and unfounded (at that moment)  allegations about who was responsible. As the minutes progressed, it was evident that the responsibility would not be limited to people or even to a group, but rather an entire religion… our religion.

As I got to the school, I was asked by the administration to stand guard in front of the school. My physical presence in the front was aimed at deterring any would-be threats and responses. My naivety clearly masked the physical danger I was being placed in but it was understood that before any police could make themselves present it was our job to “protect this house.” 

In those initial moments, I really had no idea the magnitude that the day would have on the world. For that day, not only did innocent Americans (of all races, creeds, colors and religions) die, but that day led to one the largest geo-political shifts seen in human history -- resulting in further chaos, death, and the fracturing of an already shaky Middle East. Days after the event, the question on my and everyone else’s mind still remained: how will the Muslim-American community respond?

What followed were several grassroots efforts by Muslim-Americans and Islamic organizations that placed a special emphasis on building and kindling relationships with members of our local communities. In those moments, I saw a community that did not shy away from obstacles and isolate themselves; rather, I saw a community that did the opposite and took proactive steps in countering a narrative that was (intentional or not) destabilizing and disenfranchising a community that has been part of the American tapestry for literally hundreds of years. Alhamdullilah, our communities began engaging in more interfaith dialogue and rather than build walls, we built bridges. But one thing was certain in this dialogue, and needs to remain as part of that dialogue: we are not taking any apologetic stance whatsoever. The actions on that day were insidious, and did not represent our faith in any way, shape, or form. 

So what about our children who are also Muslim and American and were not alive that day; what do we teach them? I say this in regards to primarily our middle and high school students who if they did not hear about this day in the formative years of their lives, know about it now. This is a fact, a fact we must address; lest others, who may not be able to frame this day in the correct context and perspective, distort the narrative. 

Taking the initial steps our Muslim communities so courageously took all those years ago, it it is vital that we stay vigilant in providing our children information that looks at that day for what it was: an act that Islam at its very core stands against. In an effort to protect our children from a conflict within thier own Muslim-American identity, if we (as educators and parents) do not address this day in the aforementioned context and parameters, then we are not protecting our children in the best way possible. Our school has the personnel, the tact, and the relevant information to help our children understand not only what happened on that day from a historical perspective, but to help them understand that their Muslim and American identities are not mutually exclusive but exist in harmony and complement each other. 

With the rise of extremism all over the world, we see the need now more than ever to engage in dialogical approaches to resolve issues. Our children need to engage in nuanced approaches in understanding what is happening in a world that is changing daily. If we are to successfully place fatih-based catalysts and change agents into a world that they will inherit, it is our duty to ensure they are given the resources to make sense of a puzzle they have been obligated to piece together.  

Next Week @ GIS:

  1. Monday, 9/14 @ 5 pm: Coffee with the Head of School -- Osman Khan. Since no coffee can actually be provided, please bring your own :). The meeting will start sharply at 5 pm and will last one hour insha Allah. 

  2. Tuesday, 9/15 @ 6 pm: Science Fair Information Session for Grades 5-8. Details to be provided by your child’s science teacher. 

  3. Tuesday 9/15 @ 3:30 pm: PTO lead Room Parent Training -- Link will be provided for Room Parents only.

  4. Thursday 9/17: Spirit Day: Mask For a Cause! Decorate a protective mask that showcases a cause: BLM, Environment, Firefighters, World Hunger, Homelessness etc.

Book Recommendation: The Shallows, What the Internet is Doing to our Brains by Nicholass Carr. 

Believe me, I am not a Luddite as I do not oppose technology,  and I am very aware that we live in the 21st century, in Silicon Valley, and at a time where the internet is an extension of our very being. However, we also must be aware of the effects that technology is having on our brains and our ability to think critically. This book takes an extensive look at how the medium of how we receive information, also changes the way we process information. A telling look into our present and our future, Nicholass Carr is telling us that we need to take a deeper dive into the sea of thought rather than swim in the shallow areas. 

Contemplative Quote: “To confront a person with his  own shadow, is to show him his own light.” -- Carl Jung

Who better to say this than the founder of analytical psychology. So often we forget our own capabilities. We pay more attention to the critique (well-intentioned as they may be) of others which end up derailing and negatively affecting our own psyche. Unfortunately this does more harm than any good. If you want to improve a person’s behavior in a given task, remind them they are capable instead of incapable, for people who feel good will do good -- insha Allah. 

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