The Muslim New Year is marked by the Hijra, the Prophet's journey from Mecca to Medina in 622 CE. That the calendar uses this as its starting point indicates the importance of this event, one which fostered the true beginning of a Muslim community governed by and obedient to Allah's commands.
When focusing specifically on our roles as educators and administrators in a school community, certain lessons from the Prophet's Hijra rise to the top as reminders to all of us in this profession.
Loyalty to Allah Trumps All While in Mecca, the Muslims living there were settled in with their families, homes, and businesses. Yet upon embarking on the Hijra, the Prophet and his followers demonstrated that loyalty to Allah was more important than any of the above. They were able to make such a bold move, only because they had their priorities in line.
our loyalty to Allah. As we remind ourselves of our duty to Allah and the many rewards we receive for performing our professional tasks with ihsan (excellence), we will reap benefits not only spiritually, but also socially and professionally, as we consciously strive to work for a nobler cause.
Building a Community is Hard Work We often read about the beginning of the Muslim community in Medina as a much-needed respite from the persecution that Muslims faced in Mecca. Yet how often do we reflect on the personal sacrifices that muhajir (travelers) and Ansar (helpers) made in building this community? The Muhajir left all of their comforts of home behind and began life in a new city. The Ansar openly invited their new brothers wholeheartedly, sharing their wealth, food, clothes, and homes with them.
As educators, we often talk about having a school community, but in what spirit is that community created? Is it a community formed simply because everyone gathers within those four walls for six hours of the day? Or is it one that is consciously nurtured
through communal one that is consciously nurtured through communal living and sharing of one's time and resources?
In the spirit of the Ansar, one way that many public schools may try to build community amongst the teaching staff is to implement a mentorship program between new and established teachers. As a seasoned teacher, might you consider approaching a new teacher and taking him or her under your wing? Can you commit to spending one hour each week to discuss his/her problems and seeking practical solutions to them?
Sometimes You Need a Different Path Before going on the Hijra, the Blessed Prophet and his loyal followers made many attempts to live in Mecca as Muslims. However, when they could endure it no longer, they were guided to take a different path—one that led them to Medina.
As educators, we face many battles as we attempt to successfully fulfill our responsibilities. Administrative demands, parental concerns, and students' behaviors can prevent us from fulfilling those responsibilities effectively and efficiently.
We learn from the Prophet's Hijra, however, that it can take years to create change in an environment. We also learn that we must reflect continuously on our efforts and decide at some point to choose a new path, if needed. As teachers, this may mean that we use a new method of communication to reach parents who appear uninvolved in their children's education, different teaching techniques to convey a concept students' have yet to grasp, or a novel approach to classroom management to engage the students that continuously disrupt your daily routine.
While Muslims may not celebrate the New Year, the start of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, is an opportunity to reflect on the momentous Hijra. It is also an opportunity for us as educators to ask, what can we learn from the Hijra? How can we apply these lessons to our own practice?