“Why do we learn?” Is it to fulfill a requirement or to simply check a box? Or is there some deeper purpose we are trying to achieve? 

On a bright and beautiful Sunday afternoon, the entire Golden Age Team—tutors, mentors, staff–gathered at RCM to discuss the WHY that fuels their organization. 

The event took place in RCM’s classroom, appropriately fitted with desks facing a large projector screen. In the back stood a lovely display of foods that were pleasing to both the eyes and the stomach, a kind gesture by a lovely volunteer. After the 20-some attendees filed in, the event quickly began with a recitation of Quran by Brother Bilal Khan followed by its English translation. 

The program continued with Ustath Matib Ahmad, whose presentation set the stage for the rest of the event. “Why do we learn?” he asked. We learn knowledge for goodness of many different types. More specifically, Brother Matib emphasized the point that learning makes us more aware– of God’s creation, his power, and of his presence in general. Whether you have this a-ha moment while learning about the intricacies of the human body or the laws of the universe in physics, learning–about anything–increases our awareness of God in our everyday lives. We become more in awe of how the laws of science apply to real life and how He creates all of this in a delicate balance we still to this day do not fully understand. This increases our awe for Him, and strengthens our belief in the unseen, thereby moving us towards our ultimate goal: Khashyah, the simultaneous fear and awe of Allah SWT.

Brother Matib ended his talk by reminding us of a very important hadith. “Whoever  treads a path In search of knowledge, Allah clears a path for him to jannah, and the angels lower their wings (out of mercy) for him.” However, in order for this to happen, we need to have a clear and genuine intention for gaining knowledge for the sake of Allah and for the sake of increasing our awareness of Him. 

Next, our co-founder Muhammad Hajaj took the stage to share some history and facts about the organization. Since its inception, Golden Age has grown significantly through the number of families it has impacted through its various programs. The organization’s mission has always been about “youth serving youth,” and each one of the core values was deliberately chosen for a reason. As sister Kinza explained, no value is simply a buzzword; each has a Quranic verse or hadith backing it up, and to prove her point she went through and explained each one. As Islam teaches us, actions are rewarded based on intentions, so it is imperative that we begin with the end in mind, and remind ourselves of why this organization exists, what we are doing to accomplish its mission, and why we are working for this in the first place.

After a refreshing reminder of the organization’s purpose and mission, Brother Faraz Iqbal pushed us to ask ourselves: “What is your personal brand and how is it impacting the organization?” Brother Faraz is a certified speaker of the Islamic Speakers Bureau and currently serves on the Board. He has been involved with various non-profit initiatives at the local and national levels with a focus on youth work for over 25 years. 

Brother Faraz told us that the brand we develop should change and improve ourselves. He taught us to be personally invested in the values of the organization you’re working with because that builds our passion and passion is the first thing that goes into an organization. You need to know your strengths and hone in on them, put them to use. Brother Faraz also pointed out how leadership can be a burden so instead of being the boss, try to embody servant leadership: being selfless and serving while everyone is being selfish. For example, how our Prophet (SAW) will be interceding for us on the day of judgement while we will be panicking for ourselves. While we are being these leaders we need to keep in mind that we cannot be everything for everyone. There are others whom we can steer on the right path because as MLK Jr. said, “Everybody can be great…because ANYBODY can serve.”

It is in our DNA to empower others and two of our very own tutors, Azima and Sabiha, took the stage to provide their fellow tutors with some practical advice for handling different situations and different students. While Azima focused more on tips and tricks to use when dealing with different types of students, Sabiha spoke more upon her experiences as a tutor and how they have helped her grow personally. This was a particularly interesting perspective, since tutors are usually seen as people in service to others, never to themselves or to their own benefit. This theme was continued in Mehreen Siddiqui’s discussion about “unlocking potential” in her clients. Her message was simple:  figure out who you are, what you can offer to the world, and then that comes back to the world. So to all of you, regardless of your position, go out. Seek knowledge. Seek insight. And Seek Allah’s presence in your everyday life.