It is the friends you keep that influences who you are, and the most essential friendships are the ones that stem from purity and innocence. Whether we realize it or not, who we are as adults is a direct reflection of how we interpret and understand our past experiences. I am honoured to have grown up inside the walls of The Islamic Community School (currently the ISNA Elementary School), where the people I grew up with are some of the most influential people in my life.
I’m also honoured to have attended the 30 Year ISNA Elementary School Reunion on Saturday, November 22nd, 2014 at Payal Banquet Hall. Over 300 alumni, students, teachers, administrators, principals, board members and volunteers attended this auspicious event. 30 years in the making, this reunion was long overdue and truly a celebration of honoring our past and reuniting our hearts in memory of our first steps.
Established over 30 years ago, ISNA Elementary is one of North America’s pioneer Islamic day schools and a leader in education for the Muslim community. ISNA Elementary is recognized as setting the foundations for a strong vibrant Canadian Muslim community. Many of our alumni are very prominent figures both in the Muslim community and the wider Canadian society.
Fiyyaz Jaat, an ISNA Elementary alumni, MC’d the event and captivated the audience with an engaging and interactive program. It was amazing to see former students and teachers reminisce about the past 30 years and the beautiful experiences and memories we all carry. The room was rich, full of vibrant energy, laughter, and smiles. There was a separate children’s program made available for parents to enjoy their evening.
The night ended with soothing nasheed by the group, Aswat Ash-Sham. The foyer was also setup with a museum which showcased ISNA Elementary school memorabilia, trophies, and pictures. This was an audience favorite as everyone enjoyed a walk down memory lane.
Personally, ISNA Elementary was more than a school to me, from running in the halls to picking berries from the playground trees, I felt at home. Of all the fond memories I have at ISNA, there is one that I think of regularly, and it has shaped the way that I behave in my everyday life. When I was in Grade 2, a classmate of mine wrote an anonymous unfriendly note to another student. When the Principal, Br. Abdalla Idris (now known to everyone as Shaykh Abdalla Idris) heard about this, he came into our class and asked for the person to confess. When the author of the note confessed and apologized, Br. Abdalla gave our class a quick lesson on how we should treat our fellow classmates and to be kind with our words.
Then he did something unexpected that astounded me.
Instead of punishing the author of the note, he rewarded that student with a gift for their honesty! At that time I did not know how much of an impact this would have on my life. But to this day, the lessons that I have learned there, I have carried with me everywhere. Honesty, integrity, responsibility and the importance of treating people with respect is what the inside of that brown brick (now beige stucco) building taught me.
The school had a theme: Our Children Our Hope. The friends and families of any attendee can attest to the goodness and quality in character that the school gave the students. It represents the truth that being the first to do something for the sake of Allah (SWT), and having people with hearts and souls greater than their credentials, can craft individuals and ideals that society will come to remember.
I am thankful to have had the privilege of being amongst the first students to attend ISNA. It was truly amazing to see everyone again. At Payal Banquet Hall, it felt like we all reverted back to being students, gathered together in ISNA Elementary’s gymnasium, while being spoken to by our dear Amu Abdalla. It truly was a blessed gathering.
May Allah (SWT) reward the efforts of all those who gave us the opportunity to attend this blessed school and all those who continue the efforts to expand it. In this fast paced life, it is easy to forget the things that matter the most, but one thing I will never forget is the family I grew up with at ISNA Elementary.