By: Atiqa Mohsin
School was never a place to learn about Islam. In the school that I went to, the students had very little respect for the subject- and by respect I mean that no one really paid it much attention. It was, in comparison to the other subjects, far easier and much less of a hassle. So in our young minds, Islam never really left much of an impression at all.
When we were in grade ten, the school’s management decided to employ someone with a PhD as our biology teacher. We had never been taught by someone so qualified- our school could hardly afford them- and to our genuine surprise, we took an instant liking to the teacher.
One day she decided to play a game with us. This wasn’t unusual- she was smart and she liked putting us in our place. On this particular occasion, the game she played with us was called Body, mind, heart and Soul.
She tapped the board twice and almost at once we came to attention. Our teacher disliked lack of discipline and we knew the cost of questioning that. The board bore the letters:
Body, Mind, Heart and Soul
Another game? I thought, interested. All around me, people were leaning forward in their seats- I could tell that they were just as interested as I was.
“We’re going to be taking a little break today from studies,” (The student cheered loudly at this but quickly fell into silence) “to play a game. It’s called Body, mind, heart and soul.
“The game is very simple. We’ll concentrate on body first- all you have to do is name a body part. If I can’t come up with a known disease or ailment linked to that particular body part (Keep in mind that she was a biology teacher teaching us biology), I lose and you win.”
Sure enough, it was another one of her weird games. But as weird as they might be, they were tons of fun and so the class readily agreed.
One of the girls started of the game: “Eyes.”
“Sickle Cell Anemia.”
At this point, I think everyone in the class was annoyed by her prompt answers. She was listing off ailments from the top of her head like one does with the alphabet. Her PhD was not to be underestimated.
A sense of competiveness filled the classroom and hands shot up into the air like bullets, one after the other. As a class, and a high ranking one at that, we were determined to see her fail.
“Teeth.” “Cavities.” “Gums.” “Gingivitis.” “White blood cells.” “Leukemia.” “Skin.” “Eczema.”
And on and on it went. We went from organs, what was visible from the Naked eye to cells, what could only be seen through a microscope. Whatever we named, our teacher had a response for it. By the end of the class, we were exhausted; out of ideas and out of things to name!
Towards the end of the lesson, our teacher told us this: “All of this and you are still alive, still breathing and still functioning. I want you to think about this- all these diseases, these ailments and you are still alive. Still here. Still living and breathing and eating.”
We don’t normally think about things like these. We take it for granted, the fact that we woke up this morning, the fact that we can walk and eat and the fact that we’ll go to sleep tonight. We don’t really stop to question the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ and to ponder on the ‘what ifs’.
But once in a while, you should. Every single time you think, ‘Oh, I asked Allah سبحانہ وتعالی for this and He didn’t give it to me, why oh why would He put me through this misery, think about your life from a microscopic view. From a cellular level, if you must.