The fact that we got a different head start!

I remember a video that I watched recently. It explained precisely a societal problem that Americans are facing right now – the problem of ...

I remember a video that I watched recently. It explained precisely a societal problem that Americans are facing right now – the problem of inequality that cannot be solved since the embracement of capitalism at the first place.

The video showed a teacher that asked his high school students to race for 100 meters to get $100 cash. So all of his students were lining up and ready to start the race. Yet, he began the race by setting each person’s head start up and everyone was confused by his action. The teacher listed all the criteria and anyone that meets any of the criteria can move two steps forward, thus making them nearer to the end line. The criteria are shown below:

  1. Anyone that has parents that are still married
  2. Anyone that lives in a house that has a father figure
  3. Anyone that never worries about his school fees
  4. Anyone that never bother to achieve in sports because that is the only way he can get into college
  5. Anyone that can afford to go to private school
  6. Anyone that can afford extra tuition class
  7. Anyone that never worries to get into college and get a degree

At last, less than 10% of the students even made into the final criterion and most of them still stuck at the starting line. Unfortunately, they are those who are Black, female and the minority. Some on them even showed their frustration clearly on their face. Then, the teacher started the race and as we can expect, the winner was the one that get the farthest head start at the first place – a male White young man that fulfilled all the criteria mentioned before.

There is only one motive in this race – to give us a clear picture how inequality in society works and how it is so hard to solve it. The key word here is HEAD START. The fact the all of us got a different head start in the beginning of our lives and that actually can be the big factor why we cannot control our success entirely, with a few exception of course.

Is it a new concept to us? Of course not. As a Muslim, we have the concept of Qada’ and Qadar, where not everything in the world are beyond the control of our hands.

We cannot decide if our parents are still married to each other and they have a happy marriage. We cannot decide which alphabet that our parents introduced to us when we were baby, was Alif or A for Apple. We cannot decide whether we will go to English school, Chinese school. Science school or even Islamic school. If you believe that you are the one that make the decision when you were even seven years old, you are wrong. In fact, we even cannot decide who our parents are and control whether our household will be the Islamic one, the Western one or even neither.

They are all beyond our control. Yet, the beautiful part is Allah does not judge each one of us based on that criteria, but the ‘Amal, struggles and effort that you make to find His blessing despite whatever your head start is.

[He] who created death and life to test you [as to] which of you is best in deed – and He is the Exalted in Might, the Forgiving. (al-Mulk verse 2)

So, as an organization, it is crucial to acknowledge and celebrate the diversity of this fact. Even though it is challenging to bring a common ground that everyone can work on it at the same pace, flexibility and healthy working environment are needed to nourish every single individuals in the organization. Communication is always be the best tips for this.

For those who are given a long head start compared to the others in term of your family economical, societal, education, and even religious background, remember there are people way behind your back and it is not wrong to turn your back once in a while  and help others in need.

For those who did not get a good chance for your head start, believe that we change it. Do not put the head start as your focus. Turn your head and let us run until the end.


Hanis Noor

ISMA Activist





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