17th December 2023

A very busy day with all the participants’ arrivals and getting settled in to the accommodations and meeting the others.

They had an opportunity to say their Salaam to Imam Ali (a) and InshaAllah convey all your salaams too Alhamdulillah.

The opening ceremony was too. Introductions were made, proceeding with the Course director and his team reminding all of expectations and the course details.

18th December 2023

The girls started their sessions with an ice breakers and the boys had sessions with their respected teachers – Shaykh Tahir Reza Jaffer and Shaykh Mohammad Mahdi Mosayebi.

Both groups, the brothers and sisters, separately met with His Eminence Grand Ayatollah Shaykh Ishaaq al-Fayyaadh, who is one of the top three Maraji’ in Najaf.

He gave the group enlightening advice, and presented each and everyone in the group a Turba of Imam Husayn (a) as a blessing and as a gift.

19th December 2023

The participants spent their morning attending classes with our most respected and learned scholars whom we have the good fortune to be blessed with.

The groups with their mentors and teachers have made multiple visits to the Holy shrine especially at salaah times, Alhamdulillah.

The highlight for the day was the visit to Masjid Sahla; visiting the maqamaat and praying and learning at each station.

20th December 2023

We were blessed to meet Ayatollah Sayyed Ja’far Al-Hakeem the grandson of Grand Ayatollah Sayed Mohsen Al-Hakeem.

The respected Sayyed Ja’far is one of the most senior teachers in Hawza and most prominent scholars and thinkers in Najaf.

21st December 2023

A day filled with extra special experience

Address and audience with the distinguished scholar Ayatollah Shaykh Baqir al-Irawani whose presence and knowledge left us in awe.

Followed then by the most beautiful anticipation to visit Karbala and pay our respects and salaam to Aba Abdillah (a) & Abul Fadl (a) on the auspicious eve of Friday.

Sayyid Mahdi Modaressi led us by reciting the idhn al dukhul and gave us a talk that reignited the fire of love we carry in our hearts for the Ahl al-Bayt of Rasulallah (s)

It was a memorable night and our Mawla (a) welcomed them all with open arms, we were exceptionally offered / served food from the Modheef of Imam Husayn (a)

22nd December 2023

The participants returned to Najaf in the early hours of Friday and spent the morning resting after our journey to Karbala and experience at the Haram of Aba Abdillah (a)

After Zuhr salaah and lunch they had the opportunity to be blessed with meeting yet another distinguished scholar – Sayyid Mohammed Sadiq al-Khirsan

Sayyid is a distinguished Hawza teacher who has reached the highest of levels, and also a prominent author with more than 25 publications and books regularly appears on TV to answer questions on belief and Akhlaq.

The group then spent the afternoon resting, visiting the Haram and getting their shopping done.

The evening concluded with salaah at the Haram and a Q and A with their teachers.

23rd December 2023

The day started with Fajr salaah at the Haram followed by classes delivered by our knowledgeable teachers in the Sahn of Lady Zahra (a) in the haram for sisters and at Dar al-‘Ilm for the brothers.

This was followed by a visit to the grandson of the late Grand Ayatollah Sayyid al-Khoei who is also the Custodian of Dar al-ilm – Sayyed Jawad al-Khoei.

Participants were given an exclusive tour around Dar al-‘Ilm Institute, its facilities and a special privilege to see the Museum within the establishment.

The museum was an exceptionally special visit as we were shown round to the artefacts that belonged to the late Grand Ayatollah Sayyed al-Khoei (may Allah be pleased with him). These included his personal possessions like his ring, letters, his stamp, his handwritten notes, manuscripts, letters of Ijazah he received from his teachers and those that he gave to other scholars specifically the one to Sayyid al-Sistani (may Allah keep him safe and grant him a long life)

It was a truly heartwarming and humbling experience. Subhanallah.

After lunch and a good rest, we had our final class for the day. Salaah at the Haram was followed by discussions and Q and A with the teachers to close the day.

24th December 2023

The day started with classes by scholars who impart their knowledge to us so passionately.

In the afternoon, the participants had the opportunity to visit Wadi us salaam and pay our respects to and make du’a for all who rest there.

Later, with the grace of Allah the Almighty and the blessing of Ali Ibn Talib (a) not only did we have the food blessed by his beautiful name but we were also hosted in the Mudheef.

The brothers attended a gathering for the commemoration of the demise anniversary of our Holy lady Ummul Banin (a) followed by Latom by Mulla Hayder al Bayati.

The sisters had the opportunity of audience with Shaykh Mohammed Shomali followed by a Q and A session.

25th December 2023

The participants have had a very busy day today subhanallah

They were blessed with a scholar visit with Sayyid Muneer al-Khabbaz who imparted his wisdom to the participants on this journey towards Allah SWT

Later in the day the group visited the Al-Ayn Hikayati project which consisted of a tour of the centre, what the foundation undertakes in its care of orphans and the children in Iraq.

This was followed by another visit to Al-Ma’refah foundation that is a project that focuses on supporting the family life in Iraq.

The highlight of the day was to come later as the group travelled to Masjid Kufa and had the amazing opportunity to stop and learn about all the different stations from our learned group of scholars/ teachers – Sayyid Modaressi, Shaykh Tahir Jaffer and Shaykh Mosayyebi

Participant Blog:

We started our day with fajr namaaz at the haram of Imam Ali (a) and it felt very peaceful that I wished to stay there for hours and hours on end.

After having a short resting period we went to see Ayatollah Sayyid Muneer al-Khabbaz at Dar Ul Ilm (he was a student of Ayatollah Khoei, Ayatullah Sistani, Ayatullah Khorasani, Ayatullah Tabrisi and many more) and he spoke about the 3 manifests of Allah (SWT) that we can connect to Him with 1. Spiritually 2. Intellectually 3. Socially. He explained how the significant rise in mental illnesses leading to suicide are a result of not having the love of Allah (SWT). He referenced the verses of the Quran to show us that Allah (SWT)’s bounty in this world is peace and tranquility just as we would feel comfort with our mothers and explained the importance of the 5 obligatory prayers. He told us how we can bring more people into Islam; he said “call people to us (to our religion) through your actions. When they see your good actions they will be attracted to what you believe in”. He made dua for us and advised us to make dua through the wasilah of Imam Ali (a) for our taqwa and tawassul to increase and to remain steadfast in our religion. “Our existence should be a mirror of Allah (SWT)”. It felt very at home and it was amazing to be in the presence of such a well learned and wise scholar. 

The hikayati project was at a wonderfully constructed and crafted building that really stuck out and seemed to be fitting to cater for its intended purpose; At the hikayati project we learned that the initiative was highly supported by Sayyid Sistani (d). The vision is to provide orphan children with a center that they can come and learn basic ethics and have some knowledgeable sessions through activities. There is a process that they follow through with to ensure that all the children feel safe and ultimately that they all have fun. They have taken the psychological perspective and start with an ice breaker, make sure they feel safe and trust the people around them to then open their hearts. When the Ayn institute was sent to record and document the war stricken areas they realised that there is more to the war and the effects of war are long term hence the inspiration to support the orphaned children financially but also in their lives so they don’t feel incapable and that they have hope in their future careers that they can do something to make a change. They have expanded to Afghanistan and Africa and are in the process of making this a worldwide effort. It was very interesting to learn that these were ideas from a hawza student who became a teacher who then decided that this was of importance too. Because this was in Najaf next to Imam Ali (a) it really gave the physical embodiment of the way that Imam Ali (a) during his life used to take care of all the orphans. It felt really good to see and to know and it felt like he was watching over them still. We got to try the slide and it was the highlight of the project! We all felt like children once again ! 

We then headed to the Al Maerefa project which was actually situated in the house of Sayyid Khoei. It is an independent, cultural, developmental, non-governmental organisation whose objective is to build human beings according to the teachings of Ahl al-Bayt (a). They work in 2 axis; the first one is their work on developing people using the teachings of Ahl al-Bayt (a) so that they can lead their communities and the second one is their work among young men and women giving them the ability to perform in management, organisational and developmental roles through workshops. They look after different age groups from elementary and primary students through activities and workshops that are intellectual, cultural and developmental. From the very beginning it was blessed, supported and backed by Sayyid Sistani (a) under the supervision of one of his students named Muhammad yahya. They have different branches across Iraq and have even gone through areas that are mixed with Shia and Sunni people. With their many departments they emphasise the importance of activities, they provide family guidance and conflict resolution support for unmarried, married, and married with children people. They contribute greatly to library’s. They have scouts for young men and women to create discipline and teach life skills as well as camps in different areas in different seasons and are working on a talent complex in Baghdad. They’re expanding their work to make a bigger building to help more people. They are keen in astronomy. This was a vision brought forward by hawza students and teachers who aim to make people’s lives better and teach them how to do research. It felt very nice and sincere to know that taboo topics are embraced and addressed in this institute and their care towards their people showed amazing unity. He said something really nice; “I promise to help people under all conditions” which is something you would expect to hear from a doctor or a nurse. It felt like they were the doctors of the society 

We then went on one of the best journeys; a journey to masjid Kufa. We got to see the Maqaams of Prophet Ibrahim, Prophet Khidr. Prophet Nuh, the seat of the judgement, the place of the washtub, Prophet Nuh and Dakkatul Miraj after praying our Maghrib and Isha namaaz. It was a wonderful experience and to learn so much about the mosque that used to be where our Prophet Muhammad (saw) and Imam Ali (a) used to pray their namaaz and give their sermons and we saw the place where imam Ali (a) was struck and the distance from the masjid to where his house was. It was an enlightening experience and it felt like we were able to relive or imagine at least how things happened at the time.

26th December 2023

Participants had the exceptional opportunity to be in the presence of Grand Ayatollah Sayyid al-Sistani (d) who met with the brothers and sisters separately.

The aura of his eminence was remarkable. The calmness, tranquility and peace in his presence was exceptionally beautiful. In a few words he delivered substantial messages of morality, kindness to others, vital importance of learning and reaching the highest degrees and he sent his salaam to all believers men and women and said: ‘I pray for you and I have love in my heart for all of you.’

Later in the day the participants were treated to delicious food at the best restaurant in Najaf.

The brothers ended the day with a game of football /soccer and the sisters organised a social session with informal discussions, snacks and games.

27th December 2023

The participants spent the last day in Najaf with prayers at the Haram and enjoying classes.

They were also fortunate to meet another special scholar when they were blessed with the audience of Sayed Ali al-Sabzwari.
The presence of the scholars and their ways and the enlightening words of wisdom have left us in awe and inspiring humility in us.

The visit was followed by lunch and a revisit to Masjid Kufa for some of the group.

The day concluded with our recitations and words of farewells to our Amir (a).

28th December 2023

The Participants set out towards Karbala and arrived just before lunch.

The participants settled in, rested and had lunch followed by a briefing.

Sayed Mustafa Modarresi led a Majlis where he reminded us of immeasurable rewards for visiting Imam Husayn (a) and commemorated his Masa’eb and calamities.

Following this, they headed on towards the Holy Shrines to say  salaam and pay respects to Sayyid al-Shuhada (a). They offered Maghrib salaah under his golden dome.

Being the eve of Friday, they were indeed blessed once again to be in this piece of paradise whilst we join in the collective recitation of Du’a Kumayl. Alhamdulillah!

They were honoured to participate in Majalis to commemorate the tragedies of our beloved Aba Abdillah (a) and his family and companions too and we offered our condolences to Rasullallah (saw) and his Ahl al-Bayt (a).

29th December 2023

In Karbala on a Friday! Blessings upon blessings!! Alhamdulillah

The group spent the morning busy with preparing for Jumu’ah and attending the prayers at the Haram.

They were then invited at the Mudheef of Al-Abbas (a) and blessed by food from his generosity.

They then had the honor again of having Sayed Modaressi give a lecture and read the Musibah of Aba Abdillah (a) and his family (a).

We offered our maghrib salaah and then spent the evening visiting the sites/ Maqamaat around the Haram. This was an intensely emotional time for us all as Sayed reminded us of the events at the Maqamat and the musibah of our Ahl al-Bayt (a) and their companions.

30th December 2023

The participants spent the day with Aba Abdillah (a) as we savour the precious moments we have with him and Abul Fadl(a) before they set out towards Samarrah and Kadhmayn InshaAllah.

They had the opportunity to visit the Al-Abbas Shrine garden centre and zoo, this gave us a chance to marvel at and reflect on the wonderful creations of Allah (SWT).

Some also ventured towards the Ziyarah of sites outside Karbala to the tombs of Tiflane Muslim bin Aqil (a). These sites have a certain level of depth of emotion that they stir within us.

May we follow in their footsteps and be of those who are ever ready to be in the service and obedience of our Imam (ajfs) with all that we have. Ameen

31st December 2023

The participants set out early for their journey onward to Samarrah.

Here they experienced the joy and sadness all in one go: The joy of meeting our Imams al-Hadi and al-Askari (a), as well as the sister of our Imam (a) briefly and sadness at their plight and the atrocities they were subjected to and our short time with them.

They departed not without more blessings-  as they were hosted by the Modheef of the Imams (a), while in Samarrah.

They headed to Balad to visit the Imamzadeh- Sayyid Mohammed the son of Imam Ali Al-Hadi (a) and uncle of Imam al-Mahdi (ajfs)

The journey ended at the most tranquil of places the shrines of our Imamayn – al-Kadhim and al-Jawad (a).

The serenity of Kadhimiyyah is unmatched. It serves as an ultimate reminder to pause and reflect on the journey both outward and inner as we are drawing closer to the end of our experience in Iraq.

1st January 2023

The participants spent the morning in the Haram of our Imams (a) at Kadhmayn, Alhamdulillah.

They visited the Wood arts workshop at Kadhimiyya shrine which has a number of priceless masterpieces and were given a tour of The WF Kadhimiyya Tile Project.

This was followed by our ultimate time together all in one place – the closing ceremony for the 19th TWF Madina al-Ilm Course.

We celebrated the closing ceremony with a poignant reminder through the melodious recitations of the birth and luminous personality of the Lady of Light (a) in Swahili and Urdu by the brothers.

Thereafter ensued the addresses by Sayyid Hani and presentation of tokens of appreciation to all of the group.

We were then invited to the Mudheef of al-Kadhmayn and proceeded for our group visit to the haram for Ziyarah.

The participants reached the end of their journey and pray for more opportunities in the future for return to the lands where they are all leaving behind a piece of our hearts and a place they now call Home.