Will be back in June...
On Sunday, I came home to find my computer crashed. I was shocked! But more importantly I was sad for having lost all the pictures, notes, files, and links from the past few years. Why oh why didn’t I back up my hard-drive?
I thought I would be angry but im a bit indifferent at this point, given I’ve been watching people helplessly dance around death for the past few weeks. I dont know how doctors do it. whew.
Anywho, my situation reminded me of Mr.Ghazali's story:
Ghazali and the Robbers
Ghazali, the renowned Muslim scholar, was born in Tus, a small village near Mashhad. He lived in the fifth century hijrah.
In those days, students wishing to acquire higher knowledge of Islam travelled to Nishapur, which boasted several centres of learning and many teachers of repute. Ghazall, after completing his preliminary education at home, arrived in Nishapur to pursue further studies. He was brilliant and was soon acclaimed by his tutors as the most studious and painstaking student. In order not to forget any finer points of erudition, he formed the habit of noting down all that he heard and learnt from his teachers. And then he meticulously rewrote them under various headings and chapters.
He treasured these notes as dearly as his life, or perhaps more.
Years later, he decided to return to his village. He tied all his prepared notes into a neat bundle and set forth in the company of a caravan. On the way, they were held up by a gang of highway thieves who robbed each traveller of all his valuables. And then it was Ghazali's turn. They searched him thoroughly, snatching away all that they wanted, and then laid hands on the tied bundle of notes.
"Take all that you want, but please do not touch this bundle," Ghazali pleaded. And the waylayers thought that there must be something very precious hidden in the bundle which Ghazali was trying to save.
So they untied the bundle and ransacked the pages. What did they find? Nothing but a few written papers.
They asked: "What are these? Of what use are they?"
"Well, they may be of no use to you, but they are of great use to me," Ghazali answered.
"But of what use are they?" the robbers insisted.
"These are the fruits of my labour. If you destroy them, I am also ruinously destroyed.
All the years of my attainment go down the drain," Ghazali replied.
"So whatever you know is in here, isn't it?" one of them said.
"Yes," Ghazali replied.
"Well, knowledge confined in a few papers, vulnerable to theft, is no knowledge at all.
Go and think about it and about yourself"
This casual but pungent remark by a commoner shook Ghazali to the core. He realised that he had studied as a parrot, jotted down all that he learned and crammed in into his mind. He found that he knew more, but he thought less. If he wanted to be a true student and a good scholar, he had to assimilate knowledge, think, ponder, deduce and then form his own judgement.
He set out seriously to learn the way he should, and became one of the greatest ulema in Islam. But in his advanced age, when he summarised his achievements, he said:
"The best counsel and admonition which changed my thinking, came to me from a highway robber."
"Schema theory explains how our previous experiences, knowledge, emotions, and understandings affect what and how we learn (Harvey & Goudvis, 2000). Schema is the background knowledge and experience readers bring to the text. Good readers draw on prior knowledge and experience to help them understand what they are reading and are thus able to use that knowledge to make connections. Struggling readers often move directly through a text without stopping to consider whether the text makes sense based on their own background knowledge, or whether their knowledge can be used to help them understand confusing or challenging materials. By teaching students how to connect to text they are able to better understand what they are reading (Harvey & Goudvis, 2000). Accessing prior knowledge and experiences is a good starting place when teaching strategies because every student has experiences, knowledge, opinions, and emotions that they can draw upon.
Keene and Zimmerman (1997) concluded that students comprehend better when they make different kinds of connections:
Text-to-self connections are highly personal connections that a reader makes between a piece of reading material and the reader’s own experiences or life. An example of a text-to-self connection might be, "This story reminds me of a vacation we took to my grandfather’s farm."
Sometimes when reading, readers are reminded of other things that they have read, other books by the same author, stories from a similar genre, or perhaps on the same topic. These types of connections are text-to-text connections. Readers gain insight during reading by thinking about how the information they are reading connects to other familiar text. “This character has the same problem that I read about in a story last year,” would be an example of a text-to-text connection.
Text-to-world connections are the larger connections that a reader brings to a reading situation. We all have ideas about how the world works that goes far beyond our own personal experiences. We learn about things through television, movies, magazines, and newspapers. Often it is the text-to-world connections that teachers are trying to enhance when they teach lessons in science, social studies, and literature. An example of a text-to-world connection would be when a reader says, "I saw a program on television that talked about things described in this article."
Cris Tovani (2000) offers reasons why connecting to text helps readers:
It helps readers understand how characters feel and the motivation behind their actions.
It helps readers have a clearer picture in their head as they read thus making the reader more engaged.
It keeps the reader from becoming bored while reading.
It sets a purpose for reading and keeps the reader focused.
Readers can see how other readers connected to the reading.
It forces readers to become actively involved.
It helps readers remember what they have read and ask questions about the text.
How to Use the Strategy:
To effectively use this strategy, teachers should spend time modeling for students how to make meaningful connections. The easiest connection to teach is text-to-self. Teachers should model text-to-self connections initially with selections that are relatively close to the student's personal experiences. A key phrase that prompts text-to-self connections is, "this reminds me of...." Next, teachers should model how to make text-to-text connections. Sometimes when we read, we are reminded of other texts we have read. Encourage students to consider the variety of texts they have experienced which will help them understand the new selection. Finally, teachers should model how to make text-to-world connections. When teachers suspect that students may lack the ability to make meaningful connections, classroom instruction will be necessary to bridge the gap between reading experiences and author assumptions. Building the necessary background knowledge is a crucial means for providing text-to-world support and may be used to pre-empt reading failure. Harvey and Goudvis (2000) caution that merely making connections is not sufficient. Students may make tangential connections that can distract them from the text. Throughout instruction, students need to be challenged to analyze how their connections are contributing to their understanding of the text. Text connections should lead to text comprehension.
Below are some examples of connecting statements for students to use as a reference or teachers can use them as prompts for classroom discussion.
This part reminds me of....
I felt like...(character) when I....
If that happened to me I would....
This book reminds me of...(another text) because....
I can relate to...(part of text) because one time....
Something similar happened to me when....
Below are some examples of questions that can be used to facilitate student connections:
What does this remind me of in my life?
What is this similar to in my life?
How is this different from my life?
Has something like this ever happened to me?
How does this relate to my life?
What were my feelings when I read this?
Text-to-text:What does this remind me of in another book I’ve read?
How is this text similar to other things I’ve read?
How is this different from other books I’ve read?
Have I read about something like this before?
Text-to-world:What does this remind me of in the real world?
How is this text similar to things that happen in the real world?
How is this different from things that happen in the real world?
How did that part relate to the world around me?"
courtesy of: Making Connections
"All human beings possess categorical rules or scripts that they use to interpret the world. New information is processed according to how it fits into these rules, called schema. These schema can be used not only to interpret but also to predict situation occurring in our environment. Think, for example, of a situation where you were able to finish another person’s thoughts, or when someone asked you to pass that "thingamabob." Schema Theorists suggest that you used your schema to predict what you conversation partner was going to say and to correctly interpret "thingamabob" as the hammer needed to nail something into the wall.
Information that does not fit into these schema may not be comprehended, or may not be comprehended correctly. This is the reason why readers have a difficult time comprehending a text on a subject they are not familiar with even if the person comprehends the meaning of the individual words in the passage. If the waiter in a restaurant, for example, asked you if you would prefer to sing, you may have a difficult time interpreting what he was asking and why, since singing is not something that patrons in a restaurant normally do. However, if you had been to the restaurant in the past and knew that it was frequented by opera students who liked to entertain the clouds, you would have incorporated that information into your schema and not be confused when the waiter asked if you’d prefer to sing.
In contrast to Ausubel’s Meaningful Receptive Learning Theory, the learner in schema theory actively builds schema and revises them in light on new information. Each individual’s schema is unique and depended on that individual’s experiences and cognitive processes.
Ausubel postulated a hierarchical organization of knowledge where the learner more or less attached new knowledge to the existing hierarchy. In this representation, memory is driven by structure as well as meaning. Knowledge in Schema Theory, however, is not necessarily stored hierarchically. In fact, it is meaning-driven and probably represented propositionally, and these networks of propositions are actively constructed by the learner. For example, when we are asked to recall a story that we were told, we are able to reconstruct the meaning of the story, but usually not the exact sentences– or even often the exact order– that we told. We have remembered the story by actively constructing a meaningful representation of the story in our memory..."
Sharon Alayne Widmayer
1. The Ratib of Imam Al Haddad (pdf file)
2. The Ratib of Imam Al Haddad
Ratib al-Haddad is a Zikr (additional voluntary invocation) to be recited every night after Magrib or Salât al-'Ishâ. It is a collection of Surahs and verses from the Holy Qur'an Kareem as well as the Kalimaat (declarations of belief), Tasbeehaat (praise of Allah Ta'ala) and Duas (invocations) which the beloved Prophet Muhammad Mustafa Sallallahu alaihi as Sallam recommended in his blessed sayings or Hadith Shareef.
Posted by Ayesha at 5/06/2006
"bahadur shah zafar writes to his beloved/shaikh:
main ne puuchhaa kyaa huaa vo aap kaa husn-o-shabaab
haNs ke bolaa vo sanam shaan-e-Khudaa thii main na thaa
i enquired 'what happened to your beauty and youthfulness'?
laughingly, he said, oh dear, that was the splendour of God, not me."
Posted by Ayesha at 5/06/2006
Love (mahaba) is the highest religious virtue in Islam. Imam Ghazali said that it is the highest maqam or spiritual station. It is so because trust, zhud (doing without), fear, and hope are stations of this world and so long as you are in this world these stations are relevant, but once you die they can no longer serve you. Love is eternal because love is the reason you were created. You were created to adore God. That’s why in Latin the word adore which is used for worship in English is also a word for love, adoration. You were created to worship God, in other words, to love Him because you can’t truly adore something or worship something that you don’t love. If you are worshipping out of fear, like Imam A1-Ghazali says, it’s not the highest level of worship, but its lowest.
People mock religion but in times of tribulation it is the believers whose mind and bodies are repaired with their hearts.
This past week has brought a rollercoaster of emotions and unrest into my consciousness, which isn’t exactly a bad thing but it is uncomfortable. For the past few years, I’ve done quite well with personal conflicts and found myself at peace with my self and my surroundings. I mind my own business, I do what I deem correct, and I try my best to cater to those around me.
I, however, have never made an effort to discuss my beliefs with those of my friends and relatives who don’t know much about Islam (or those who don’t care to know); mainly because I would never want to force another human being into discussing something they weren’t interested in. That somehow the way I am would serve enough proof of my inclinations and beliefs. I was wrong.
The past week has made me realize that I not only need to work on myself but that I need to engage more with those around me. I need to talk about life, meaning, goals, and death. I should not shy away from discussing my views for they might benefit someone else. Yes, I can take care of me but I don’t know how to take care of other people. What good is knowledge or understanding if it can’t be of use to those we love?
This past week I found myself surrounded by people who wanted me to pray with them and for them. How wrong was I to assume that they didn’t believe in God. Yes, they said they didn’t believe in religion but that’s when they were happy. They were drunk on happiness; but what was wrong with me. Since when did I take ‘drunk’ people seriously?
Of course I prayed with everyone else. And I asked for prayers just liked them. But I felt so inadequate and guilty. I felt like a fraud. Why couldn’t I have explained some of my beliefs before this calamity hit them? Why had I not made an effort?
I saw people in despair. I saw them without hope.
I could taste their pain yet I didn’t know how to comfort them. Didn’t know how to explain that “tribulations” are a blessing in disguise; that death is only the beginning; that God Loves us more than we love Him; and that we should make our hearts content with God’s decree. How to say all of this in an out of context vacuum?
When my father passed away, I was sad. In fact, I was heartbroken. But I never for a moment despaired of God’s Mercy. I understood that he had returned home; his test was complete; and that I too was born to die. And perhaps by God’s Mercy I will see him again.
I recall feeling pain but not like the pain I’ve felt this week. I wish I could transfer some of the peace I feel in my heart to those who are in pain, right now.
Learn from my mistakes and please take a moment everyday to say something good to your loved ones, or to pray for someone in pain, for it not only helps them but it also helps to cleanse our hearts.
May God Forgive us and show Mercy on us, For He is the Best to Forgive and the Best to Show Mercy.
Chuang Tzu, a Chinese poet and philosopher, once has a wonderful dream. As he lay comfortably in his bed, he dreamed that he was a butterfly dancing from one flower to another, tasting sweet nector. Drifting with the light summer breezes, he blissfully fluttered with other rainbow-colored butterflies.
Suddenly, he woke up. Finding himself sitting on his own bed, he realized that he had been dreaming.
"The dream seemed so real," he thought. He looked about his crude cottage and sleepily wondered, "Well am I a man who has been dreaming that he a butterfly? Or am I a butterfly who is now dreaming that his is a man?
"A key thing, however, may be to understand what 'difference' actually is, if that makes sense. That there are many varying levels of "Muslim", from the non-practising peeps who have even the tiniest spark of faith in their heart, to those who walk around chewing on wood all day etc. That these things, and whatever in-between, is still within the bounds of Islam; though some are in a better position than others, doctrinally."
"Regardless of levels of understanding and practise, regardless of current or past "sins", there is a place for everyone within the community, at some level, which enriches our capability to grow."
"I'm becoming convinced (and it is difficult to think this) that most of the ungodliness in the world (and perhaps manifested within ourselves if we don't begin to open our eyes) is not an active defiance of fitra but a passive conformity to the fitna which is hallmark of the progression of history."
"One of ahm's contentions is that 'the divine name of our time is al-sabur.' look at surah asr. as history 'progresses', we are all in a state of loss except the ones that attempt to actualize the divine name al-sabur and are the patient."
The spirit is like an ant, and the body like a grain of wheat
which the ant carries to and fro continually.
The ant knows that the grains of which it has taken charge
will change and become assimilated.
One ant picks up a grain of barley on the road;
another ant picks up a grain of wheat and runs away.
The barley doesn't hurry to the wheat,
but the ant comes to the ant, yes it does.
The going of the barley to the wheat is merely consequential:
it's the ant that returns to its own kind.
Don't say, "Why did the wheat go to the barley?"
Fix your eye on the holder, not on that which is held.
As when a black ant moves along on a black felt cloth:
the ant is hidden from view; only the grain is visible on its way.
But Reason says: "Look well to your eye:
when does a grain ever move along without a carrier?"
"Rumi: Jewels of Remembrance"
Camille and Kabir Helminski
Threshold Books, 1996