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Lessons Learned

By:  Ammaar Mohammed

Words, words, words, funny example sentences, interviews, museums, drama, odd words, correct spellings, applause, never heard of words, bell rings, hard work, perseverance and standing ovations. That’s my one-sentence summary of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

First of all, I would like to thank Allah (SWT) for all success and for giving me an amazing family and a very supportive community.

It was a tremendous honor to represent Bayaan Academy first at the regional spelling bee and then on the national stage.

Alhamdulillah, I was blessed to have gained a one-of-a-kind experience at this year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee. For the first time in my life, I was out of my comfort zone, I met new people, made new friends and shared common interests.

It was quite amazing. The 285 kids who took part in the Bee weren’t competing against each other. But rather, we collectively fought against the dictionary. This experience has helped me to become more calm and collected under pressure. It has inculcated in me a deep thirst to push myself to accomplish the impossible. It has taught me to set unrealistic goals, to dream of the impossible, and to work hard to make them happen.

At this assembly of enlightenment, I learned some lessons that I would like to share with you. First, to do great things, one must surround oneself with others striving for excellence. When surrounded by this group of well, let’s just say, nerds, I felt an urge to do better. I already wanted to start reviewing for next year’s Bee and was eager to memorize the roots of words and the dictionary itself all of a sudden. That’s why I believe that we need to work on building a new culture deeply rooted in excellence, to think big and to achieve in both dunya and aakhira.

Allah SWT has bestowed great intellect upon each one of us. It’s all about putting it to the right use – channeling our minds to do more. Think of anything that you are passionate about, and try to reach its pinnacle.

It is important to remember this hadith: “Verily, Allah loves that when anyone of you does a job, he should perfect it." (Al-Bayhaqi)  Though Allah alone is perfect, we should strive for perfection in all of our endeavors.




The Value of Now

By: Sundus Alsharif

We live in a society that is very obsessed with instant gratification. From movies, to instantly downloadable books, to drive-throughs, and Amazon Prime shipping. It seems as though wanting everything right “now” keeps us all on our toes and makes us forget the importance of patience in our lives. If we can’t memorize the whole Quran in a year or a couple of months, why even attempt it? If it’ll take two more years to get a master’s degree, it’s a waste of time. If we have to invest a year in healthy eating and exercising before noticing any decreases in our body fat, then what’s the point? This kind of thinking has held us back for so long.

But it doesn’t have to. What if we used instant gratification to our advantage? What if, instead of looking at everything we can’t have or do right now, we looked at everything we have and can do right now? For the past month, I made a calendar of goals that I have for each day, and I put check marks next to the days that I complete the task, and I leave the task’s box empty if I don’t complete it. I focused on small goals that I can do right now. Read Quran for 25 minutes every day. Recite the morning and afternoon adhkar. Read ten pages of the fiction book. You get the basic idea. Break down big goals into smaller goals and focus on them today. Right now. They will add up. Some days, I failed, but I woke up the next day, and tried again. And guess what? I’ve never been more successful accomplishing my goals than I have been this past month, alhamdulilah. I’m sharing this with you because I want you to know that no matter where you are in life, it’s never too late to be passionate about a goal and make small efforts to reach it. Even if you’re super busy like me, there is always a way to work in your goals to fit your circumstances.

Want to recite Quran for 30 minutes a day but just don’t have the time to sit down for 30 minutes? Listen to Quran on a CD or MP3 player  while you’re driving and recite with the shaykh. Want to recite the morning and evening adhkar, but don’t have time to memorize or read them? Then listen to them and recite with the shaykh while you’re on your way to work or coming back home from school.

Want to do everything but don’t know how? Simple: don’t do everything. Do some things. Every day. Now. One day at a time. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish.