By: Tamer Omari
“Does light get to earth from the sun instantly, or does it take time to get here?”
This question was presented to me and my 3rd grade classmates by one of my favorite teachers, Ustaz Abu el Saied.
Ustaz Abu el Saied loved arousing his students' curiosity. He was a passionate teacher that encouraged me and my fellow students never to stop thinking about things that seem given. I had always thought it absolutely clear that whenever I hit the light switch, light fills the room immediately; obviously light is not bound by time. However, I was astonished when Ustaz Abu el Saied said that it takes at least 8 minutes for light to get to earth from the sun. My world was turned upside down. My simple logic, which explained the world so elegantly until that moment, seemed deeply flawed and easily manipulated. I was baffled.
The seemingly trivial questions that Ustaz Abu el Saied used to ask me and my classmates motivated me to keep thinking, be open and proudly curious. He always encouraged us to ask questions. He used to say, “There are no stupid questions, so ask!” It seemed that whenever anyone needed to know something, anything, Ustaz Abu el Saied was there to listen and help.
I knew that he didn’t know everything; he always said with a smile, “I don’t know everything and you don’t know everything, but wouldn’t we like to?”
We always felt that Ustaz Abu el Saied loved us and loved everything we had to say. He respected us as his students and we respected and loved him in return.
At the time, it was common for elementary students to say “I hate school” when asked how they felt about it. Ustaz Abu el Saied made the answer to this question far more difficult to answer. He has made me believe that I have the answers in me, and all I need to do is think hard enough to get them out.