We are taught by great actions that the universe is the property of every individual in it.
- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Early every Saturday, while most are sleeping, I find inexplicable joy in surrounding myself with dozens of screaming, loving children eager to play while learning about their religion, a faith that often doesn't get the attention merited in most Muslim homes.
From eight until two, a fellow teacher and I work to educate these minds about the basics of Islam and Qu'ranic teachings, as well as various games stressing the child's role in Islam. We use our lesson plans to make the children feel that his or her ideas are relevant as we discuss morals and ethics from Islamic history and their relevance to today's first-graders.
These children have taught me so much more than I ever would have thought a group of rowdy six-year-olds capable of. My patience has increased in the few years I have been teaching. Many Saturdays I found myself ready to burst out in anger toward a child because he or she refused to share crayons, only to see another group peacefully working things out, and sharing. On such occasions, I am often humbled by those five and six-year-olds who were so ready to share, while I, the 16-year-old, am on the verge of catapulting all my anger toward a child who has yet to understand between right and wrong. By working with these children, my patience has increased phenomenally so now I quietly shake my head, instead of losing my temper. I credit my students with teaching me that problems, no matter how large or small, can be solved with the soft touch of reasoning.
Knowing that these children are the future leaders is comforting; I tell myself this every time I deal with their arguments and my anger boils. Like Emerson's quote, I believe that it is up to older generations to instill responsibility and worth in the younger ones.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.