By Rafi M. Ali, M.D.
Director of DarusSalam Seminary’s Tadrīs Integrated High School Program
The Excellent Teacher is an Excellent Student
It is easy to declare oneself a lifelong student, offering it as a testimony of our humility, but it is much harder to live such ideals. Living such ideals requires graciousness in the face of embarrassment, humility to concede one’s ignorance, and willingness to learn from those we thought we surpassed. One who masters this lesson has truly been gifted one of life’s greatest blessings.
Malcolm X again shows us how it’s done. He states in his autobiography, “…I had either directly established, or I had helped to establish, most of the one hundred or more mosques in the fifty states.” How many mosques have you established? Soaring on such accomplishments, Malcolm X was then shocked when he was detained at Jeddah airport and not allowed to enter Mecca.
“I had to go before the Mahgama Sahria, he (the judge) explained. It was the Muslim high court which examined all possibly nonauthentic converts to the Islamic religion seeking to enter Mecca. It was absolute that no non-Muslim could enter Mecca.” A young man guided him to a room where he would have to wait among others from different parts of the globe until the time came for him to go before the council. “I followed the aid in his skull cap, long white gown, and slippers. I guess we were quite a sight…(later) with gestures, he indicated that he would demonstrate to me the proper prayer ritual postures. Imagine, being a Muslim minister, a leader in Elijah Muhammad’s Nation of Islam, and not knowing the prayer ritual…After about an hour, my guide left, indicating that he would return later.
I never even thought about sleeping. Watched by the Muslims, I kept practicing the prayer posture. I refused to let myself think how ridiculous I must have looked to them. After a while though, I learned a little trick that would let me get down closer to the floor.”
Malcolm X understood well that “Teacher” and “Student” are but titles, and all are but slaves before Allāh .
. Virtue decays with self-assertion.
. Malcolm X, 317.
. Malcolm X, 357.