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Home Feature Stories Al-Ashriyyah Nurul Iman Islamic Boarding School A Confluence of Love from Allah and the Buddha - Training to be independent

A Confluence of Love from Allah and the Buddha - Training to be independent

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Article Index
A Confluence of Love from Allah and the Buddha
Allah-assigned responsibilities
Messengers of Great Love
Training to be independent
School doubles as home
All Pages
Training to be independent
Worshiping, studying the Koran, cooking, washing clothes—the students follow stringent rules and take care of their own everyday lives.

In Islamic culture, genders are strictly separated. Therefore, the male and female students have their own separate quarters. Most of the male students live in huts, and the rest stay in the mosque on campus. The female living quarters, as well as their classrooms and library, are completely fenced off from the male population. Males are not allowed to enter these areas.

Gamar binti Saggaf is the residential manager for the entire female population on campus. She also happens to be Elder Habib’s daughter. She showed us where the children lived and studied.

The children live simply—in each room, between 50 and 90 of them sleep on the floor, one right next to the other. There are no electric fans or air conditioning. In the morning, they pile their blankets and pillows in a corner and transform their sleeping quarters into a classroom.

They all take turns doing chores. Those on duty are roused at 3:30 in the morning to begin preparations for breakfast and any other duties that must be completed for the coming day. Regardless of age, everyone takes care of his or her own chores.

Everyone on campus worships five times each day. The first prayer is held at 4:00 a.m. After the first worship exercise, their day, whether it be attending classes or studying the Koran, starts.

Additionally, male students who are in high school or college have a special responsibility: cooking for the school. Although meals are simple, consisting only of rice and some sauce, preparing them is such an enormous task that responsibility for the meals rotates among teams of boys. Each team consists of 15 boys who share the duty for three months at a time. Malik, who is now in college, happened to be on duty the day I visited the kitchen. “Not every boy comes every single day,” he explained. “Classes take precedence. We come here only when we don’t have classes to attend.”

Malik, who has been at the School for five years, told me how the cooking teams evolved. Before there were not so many students, Elder Habib had asked neighbors near the school to cook for the students and staff. Older students would come to help with the cooking, but only on holidays. Soon, however, the burgeoning student population overwhelmed the ability of the neighbors to prepare the meals. The responsibility naturally fell to student volunteers. All-student cooking teams have been used since that time.

“I feel really lucky here,” said Malik. “I used to fight and quarrel all the time on the streets. Now things have changed for the better for me.”

His gratitude for what the school has done for him is a common feeling among the students. In fact, many students remain in the school to serve even after they have graduated. Gamar, the females’ residential manager, is one example of this. “I can’t bear to see my father so busy. I can’t leave the students, either. So I stay on and help out.”



 

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