Five couples joined this year’s Couple Retreat.
Read their daily blog below to learn more about their experience of the retreat from their own words.
Day 11 - Sunday 22nd April
After breakfast, we proceeded to the closing ceremony led by Sheikh Nadir Jaffer. He gave us some words of wisdom such as giving importance to the quality of our actions versus the quantity.
Sincerity is what we should all aim for. If we experience changes in our life, it is a sign that our ziyaraat has been accepted. He advised us to gift our Mustahab amaals to the Living Imam and remembering him at all Times.
These 10/11 days went so quickly and this is the end of this course and so is our entire life. Life is so short that it is represented when we sit (asking for forgiveness) in between our 2 prostrations during our prayers.
For us, apparently it is the end but in reality, it is the beginning of a new life with a new vision, new goal and a rebirth. The participants were then given the opportunity to express some of their thoughts.
They generally thanked the organisers and The World Federation.
Some participants could not hold back their emotions and were crying. Some gifts were exchanged between the participants and the World Federation/organisers. I think that most would agree that no worldly gift can compensate for the spiritual journey towards Allah SWT and our living Imam. We then proceeded to the farewell ziyaraat of Imam Reza a.s.; another emotional experience for many participants. Perhaps some of the thoughts going through their minds were: 'When will I get the chance to come back? Did I do enough (amaals/duas/prayers)? Has my ziyaraat been accepted? Will my wishes be fulfilled and if so how quickly? I hope that my connection with my Imam remains strong.' Back at the hotel, a cake cutting event was organised to commemorate my 8th wedding anniversary coinciding with the Wiladat of Imam Zainul Abidin a.s.
I am grateful to the organisers as I am sure that my wife will cherish this memory. Some of us then had to catch flights/trains/taxis depending on our destinations. Two couples extended their stay in Mashaad, one is staying 3 nights in Qum before heading back to India while the remainder went back to the UK/Sweden.
Day 10 - Saturday 21st April
The day started with a healthy breakfast followed by a tour of the Holy Shrine.
We first headed towards a place where there used to be a cage full of birds and people used to come there to put food. Shaykh Nadir shared with us a very emotional poetry of an imaginary conversation between the birds of Jannatul Baqee and the birds of Khuraasan. When we see the Haram of Imam al-Redha (as), the golden dome, the amount of pilgrims and the state of the lonely grave of His grandmother Fatima (sa) and the Aimmah in Baqee, we can feel an extreme pain. We then went to visit the grave of Sheikh Tabarsi (RA), author of the famous Tafseer "Majma-ul Bayaan". He asked for a new life for the sake of writing it.
After that, we all gathered in front of the golden dome and brother Afshar explained us about Sheikh Baha'i who was the person in charge for the renovation of the Haram of Imam Redha (as). During the renovation of the dome, Sheikh Baha'i had left some empty space and had planned to put one special Dua so that only the true lovers of Imam (as) can enter inside. But Imam (as) came to the dream of one of the workers and asked him to fill it. This shows how kind and generous our Imam is!
The trumpet show and playing of drums is something unique in Imam Redha (as)'s Haram everyday during sunrise and sunset and Imam's title is "Shams as-Shumoos" (The Sun of suns)! We continued our visit to the grave of Shaykh Hur al-Ameli who is a descendant from Hazrat Hur (as) and has authored our Hadith book "Wasael us-Shiia" and had met Imam Mahdi (as) during his lifetime. We then recited Surat al-Fatiha on grave of the great Shaykh AbuI Hasan Isfahani known as "Nakhoodaki" and learnt about the extraordinary life of this Alim who has taught that powerful Amal to be done after every Wajib Salaat to Imam Khomeini (RA) when he asked him about the secrets of Alchemy. We also visited the graves of the great Arif Shaykh Ja'far Mujtahidi and heard some touching anecdotes of his illuminated life, Shaykh Baha'i and Allama Muhammad Taqi Ja'fari who has written the Tafseer of Nahjul Balagha.
After visiting the graves of all these amazing personalities, we went to the museum and learnt about the history of the Holy Shrine and then had lunch together. We finished our journey by spending some time in the Haram of Imam al-Redha (as) and tried to establish a connection with him. Sub'han'Allah, how Lady Masooma (sa)'s relationship was strong with her beloved Brother. We performed this Ziarat on behalf of her heavenly sister who could not join her brother after performing a long journey from Madinah.
When we look inside his Haram, we can get a glimpse of Jannah. The holy water in his courtyard tastes like Zamzam. Just the way the angel Fitroos got cured from Imam al-Hussain (as), the Zuwaars of Imam al-Redha (as) are cured through this drink. There are so many things that we have learnt from this spiritual retreat and Ziarat that we can implement in our daily life. May Allah (swt) grants us the Tawfeeq to be a true follower of the AhlulBayt (as) and include us in the army of Imam Zaman (as).
Reflections by Br. Zamine Raza Jaffer & Sabera
Day 9 - Friday 20th April
After spending a week in the Holy City of Qum, in the proximity of Lady Masooma (sa), we are now benefiting from the powerful spiritual aura of Mashhad since 3 days.
We are so thankful to Allah (swt) as well as Imam al-Redha (as) that He invited us as His guests on these Blessed Days of Milaad of Imam al-Hussain (as), Maula Abbas (as) and Imam al-Sajjad (as)! The day started beautifully with Fajr prayer inside the Holy Shrine, followed by trumpet show at sunrise. Then Dua Nudbah started, it was recited beautifully in a unique and exceptional way.
Today there was something new and special waiting for us: The visit to Neyshabur.
After a drive of about one and half hour we reached the Qadamgah of Imam Redha (as) and prayed Namaz Jum'ah there.
This place made us reflect about the kind of connection we should have with Allah (swt) and Imam Mahdi (as) through this golden chain Hadith narrated by Imam Redha (as) in Neyshabur : "La Ilaha Ilallah is my fortress, so whoever enters my fortress is protected from my punishments. But then Imam ends by saying "I am among its conditions!". This teaches us that without the Maarifat and knowledge about the Imam of our Time, and without making any effort to acquire it, we can die in loss.
We went to see the footprints of Imam Redha (as), and we were wondering that if a rock can become soft and take the footprints of Imam (as), what about our hearts? How should it be in the presence of our Master Imam Mahdi (as) ? We then went to fill our bottle with the holy water. We also performed the Ziarat of Imamzadeh Mahrooq (R.A) a descendant of our 4th Imam (as) and Imamzadeh Ibrahim (R.A) a descendant of our 7th Imam (as).
After lunch, we headed towards the Haram of Bibi Shateeta (sa) who was one of the Believers of our 7th Imam (as). She teaches us through her life that one should always be responsible of his duty even if it is a small one. She teaches us sincerity towards our Imam and also shows us that the quantity of our actions is not important but the quality.
By her sincerity, she reached the level that Imam Musa Al-Kadheem (as) himself came to recite Her Salaat Janazah, provided her shroud and he requested to be buried with Janabe Shateetah's piece of cloth.
Her life is an example for all of us.
We concluded our visit by reaching the peak of this journey: The visit of Imam Redha (as)'s closest companion Khwaja Aba Sult (RA).
It is narrated that if anybody wishes to complete the Ziarat of Imam Redha (as) he should visit him. He was so close to his Master that he knew all his secrets. His dedicated life is an example to follow to be closer to Imam Mahdi (as).
We finished our day by having dinner together at a Lebanese restaurant facing the golden Dome, where we celebrated the birthday of one of our brothers, Hasnain who now got 1 year closer to meet his Lord!:)
Reflections by Br. Zamine Raza Jaffer and Sabera
Day 8 - Thursday 19h April
The weather and atmosphere here in Mashhad is excellent and after being at the Haram one can actually feel spiritually elevated. The number of people visiting the Haram from all over the world, i.e people from different walks of life irrespective of race, or culture etc. everyone is here for one specific reason, that is to come and see and visit the Imam and establish a connection with him and feel his presence and ask the holy Imam(AS) to help them in this world as well as the hereafter, which is our final abode.
We had an interactive session with Sayyed Kazmi about how the spouse should be with each other and helping each other in increasing their faith and Imaan to reach that spiritual level and closeness to Allah (SWT) followed by how to talk to the holy Imam and how to ask him for our Hajaat, because we the human beings are not perfect with a lot of negativity within ourselves.
Lastly, thanks to the World Federation, especially to Sheikh Nadir, for giving us (the group) the opportunity to have Niyaz/dinner at the Haram of our holy Imam (AS), and we all were truly blessed to have this opportunity and to be the special guests of the holy Imam.
Just being in Qum and Mashhad for 1 week, it feels special how both the cities are, and has produced a good number of excellent Scholars. One truly feels to leave all the worldly affairs and dedicate the life to learn about the religion.
We ask Allah(SWT) to give us strength and Tawfeeq to practice more and learn more and help us to come to one of these cities to learn about religion.
Reflections by Br. Nishith and Selina: From U.K. / Tanzania
Day 7 - Wednesday 18th April
We have been waiting for this trip to holy lands of Qum and Mashhad since January, and finally time came and we are here! It’s a different Islamic atmosphere and ambience in Qum and Mashhad compared to other Islamic countries. You can feel the spiritual atmosphere in these holy places.
We started our day with the visitation of the Shaykhan graveyard where we got to know about its significance and visited two (2) of the important Shia figures (companion of our 6th,7th and 8th holy Imams). It was truly inspiring to know that even during turbulent and tough times, these companions showed true commitment and loyalty to them.
Thereafter, we recited a farewell to Bibi Fatima Masooma (AS) while on our way to Imam Khomeini(RA) shrine.Then we visited the grave of the founder of the Islamic Revolution, which shook the whole world. Sometime, we wish if all the Islamic countries followed the same footsteps of Imam Khomeini (RA), we would not have had problems as we are currently facing.
We also got the opportunity to see Behest e Zahra, where all the shuhada are buried from different wars which took place, and all due respect goes to the mothers/families of those shuhada who had the courage to allow their loved ones to give their lives for the cause of Allah (SWT). We can learn from their example; in a way we can’t be in a position to go for this kind of jihad, but at least we can do the jihad of our Nafs.
Last but not least, before we made our way to the airport for Mashhad, we got a chance to perform Ziarat of Imamzadeh Hamza, Imamzadeh Taher and Shah Abdul Azeem.
Finally, after settling down at the hotel, we had a briefing on ziarat of Imam al-Ridha (AS) on virtues, etiquettes and how to perform the Ziarat by Sheikh Nadir before we went to pay our respect to Imam al-Ridha (AS) followed by beautiful recitation by brother Afshar.
Reflections by Br. Nishith and SelinaFrom U.K. / Tanzania
Day 6 - Tuesday 17th April
Alhamdulillah! It's been 20months we've been preparing for Ziyarat and at the very good moment, we got this excellent opportunity. Initially, I was told that ziyarat brings a lot of peace and spirituality. But since I never been to a holy place, I did not know what people were talking about.
During our first sessions, we felt that some missing parts of uncompleted reflexions came out and that was amazing! It was like completing a puzzle after so many years of struggle and being under process. The visits to the Haram made me understand that our Aimmah's generosity increases as they give. Let us tell you a theory we have been reflecting on since so many years (God loves when one ponders about Him with his own mind).
Try to imagine a bloc of infinite cement going in all directions and dimensions and think about the result ... well, I think it's almost impossible to do. Here are 2 reasons why:
1. We, human beings, are not "programmed" to understand or imagine an infinite "material".
2. If the cement was really infinite, then one would have not existed! Existing as a finite in a place where an infinite material exists is theoretically and logically impossible ... except, when you are part of the cement.
And here comes the concept of God.God is the only infinite entity that allows human being and other creatures to exist in His world, and hence, be the reflection of His attributes. We all are part of this entity, but we need to be reborn to understand our nature. The world is a "tool" for us to reach Him.
During our trip, we had a lot of interactive lessons and they made us understand that there are so many ways for spiritual elevation towards The One.
During our session on the science of Hadith with Sheikh Tahir Ridha, he highlighted how deep is Islam and how sharp should be the mind of a Shia to be able to treat all this information. A life is not enough to master even one field. Thus, we come back to our concept of limited creatures.As for our visit to Ayatollah Mahdi Hadawi Tehrani, we were surprised how open-minded can be an Ayatollah and jurist! His valuable advices were highly appreciated by the participants of this retreat.
After lunch, we had an awakening session with sister Najiya regarding the Mahdi, dunya and nobility. Again, there are theories regarding God and human being that are amazing! From multiplicity to unity, we have to embody the attributes of Allah SWT. Also we are astonished to notice that people living in Qum are so aware about what's happening in the world, Alhamdolillah. Our subject was wide but from an overall point of view, a Shia Muslim should be aware about everything. More importantly, he should be a close friend of the Imam of his time.
Finally, the last program took place at Masjid Jamkaran.I personally have seen several mosques in my life but the beauty of this one was above my imagination! The details of the architecture, the colours, the surface, etc ... not only we have the best religion but we have the means to practice it with pride and can reach the highest level ever known by human beings. The day concluded with an amazing recitation of Dua Tawassul.
Reflections by Br. Zamir & Hina - Madagascar
Day 5 - Monday 16th April
It's been less than a week that we are in the Holy City of Qom and we can feel the positive energy that rises from here. The spiritual atmosphere is predominant, and Alhamdulillah, we have the opportunity to experience the spiritual elevation over the course and visits.
We realized here that all the existence is the reflection of the attributes of Allah SWT. Therefore, we have to embody and reflect those attributes in the best way.The sessions we had today with Sheikh Khalfan and Sheikh Tahir Ridha on the responsibilities of a man and woman within the couple, from the Islamic point of view were really beneficial for mutual understanding and spiritual elevation.
Then we had a session with Sister Sajedah regarding the status of the pure Lady Fatemah Al Massouma (SA) along with the karamaat of our knowledgeable Ulemas which were inspiring for us to go further in the quest of Divine proximity.We finished our day filled with wisdom with a very friendly meal in a local traditional Iranian restaurant that allowed us to strengthen further our friendships with the participants.
Reflections by Br. Zamir & Hina - Madagascar
Day 4 - Sunday 15th April
We started the day with a very awakening lecture by Sh. Nadir.
This lecture has been heavily discussed today and will be for a long time. Spiritual awakening is a lecture I wish all my friends could hear and benefit from.
We learned about the Noors and the different steps of the wayfarer.
Ended the lecture with something that really woke us up: The story about the horizontal and the vertical dead.
We continued to the library and we were amazed by not only the books they have but also the knowledge and skills of their personnel.
After lunch we made ourself ready for Hijamah. After a short taxi ride, we come to a very peaceful room overlooking Mount Khiddr. It was a mind blowing experience.
We bonded as brothers as well.
After the session we ended the day with Salaat in the local mosque where we felt at home. One can only wish for such a nice friend as Brother Afshar.
Reflections by Br. Hasnain
Day 3 - Saturday 14th April
We started the day with a session with the honourable Sr. Raziya Najafi. We were all awe-struck by her radiating and positive spiritual energy. An amazing woman who really had a profound effect upon us. The second session was about Prophetic medicine. A very interesting and vast subject which really sheds light upon the fact that every disease is sent with it's cure. The holy lady Masooma Al-kareema's presence is felt throughout the city. We have come to realise how utterly blessed the people who live in the city of knowledge of Qom are Subhanallah, with tens of Maraje living in this one place.
It's only been a few days but within this short time Allah SWT has already created beautiful brotherly and sisterly bonds between us. Caring and taking care of one another and basically becoming like family Mashallah. I've been able to strengthen existing friendships as well create new ones Alhamdulillah. Maulana Sabzwary who takes the yearly Al-Asr group to Iran and Iraq said a few lines to us many years ago that still resonate in my mind. He said that we should nurture our relationships with our Shia brothers and sisters as these friendships last for eternity.
We were also blessed with a visit to Imam Khomeini's house. Our respected Sheikh Nader explained the greatness of this man in a wonderful setting by a pond in the garden outside. Imam Khomeini's sheer dedication, devotion and reliance on Allah (SWT) is mesmerising. His strength, power and access to special guidance really shows us what a great man he really was. 21 years have passed since I stepped foot in the humble residence of the Leader of the Islamic Revolution. I recount the young adolescent that I was and how much I've changed as a person but more importantly how many changes I need to make in my life on the path to Allah SWT. Of course the beauty of the reality is that the path is never-ending as there is always room for improvement.
We then hiked up to the masjid in the name of Nabi Khidr (as) at sunset. The majestic view was completely breathtaking!
Hiking is a pastime that both I and my family enjoy however I was slightly apprehensive as I have (Inshallah temporarily) heel and forefoot pain due to a poor choice of shoes these last few years. I was unsure whether the climb would worsen the inflammation I'm currently experiencing, but Alhamdulillah, my husband was of assistance during the hike. I took into consideration the beautiful title of Allah SWT, Ya Qawiyyu, as Sheikh Nader narrated.
We also paid our respects to the young Shuhada that are buried at the base of this mountain. What really struck a cord within me was hearing that the mothers of these Shuhada have learnt sabr, strength and resilience from the mothers of the Shuhada-e-Karbala.
The evening ended at a lovely restaurant where we had the opportunity to grill our own food at the table. A lovely evening shared with lovely sisters was a perfect end to the day. We are so thankful to our dearest Sheikh Nader and The World Federation for all their efforts and I'm sure I speak on behalf of the group when I say that words won't suffice to express the gratitude the group is feeling. We started of the day with a very inspiring lecture about responsibilities of husband and wife by Sister Razia Najafi. We got so much positive energy to take with us to our relationships and back home with us.
The day continues with Prophetic medicine session which was very interesting. It was very uplifting for us. We are very indoctrinated in the medical practice in the west and have been blind for alternatives. We had a beautiful jamat salah together and then a joint lunch were we continued some discussions and reflections.
After lunch we went to Imam Khomeini's house and then to mount Khiddr. Mount Khiddr was very nice and we all needed to walk after all the nice food we had. After prayers at the top of the mountain we went down to the graves of the Martyrs and Sheikh gave us a very nice lecture which also other people around us appreciated.
Ended the evening with some joint BBQ and nice atmosphere.
Reflections by Br. Hasnain
Day 2 - Friday 13th April
The second day starts with the illness of a few group members... Subhanallah it's a reminder of our vulnerability as human beings; we go from fit to bedridden in one day! This makes me appreciate my health and Allah's (swt) power.
The first lecture of the day by Sheikh Khalfan is very deep and abstract; focusing on how we can know Allah (swt) and through which avenues. Some of His names are discussed and I can't stop thinking about Rahmah; His abundant and ever existing Mercy. I cannot comprehend how much my Creator loves me, my limited and finite brain cannot grasp the depth of His Mercy! The more we learn about our creator the more we love Him and the more we want to associate only with Him. He is our ultimate goal.
The second lecture had a very interesting approach to marriage. Sheikh Sekaleshfaar discussed how everything exists in pairs and also the human being. The women portray more of Allah's (swt) beautiful attributes such as nurturer and men more of his majestetic attributes such as provider. Spiritually men and women through their innate attributes, find their identity and through this finally their role in the family and society. We had an interesting discussion about how these Godly attributes can be suppressed and their negative effect on spirituality. One example of this is Sweden where women have an immense pressure to have a professional career, and it's potential effects on family dynamics and spirituality.
Tonight is 27 Rajab; the day the Holy Prophet (saw) had his heavenly ascension and announced his Prophethood. The streets are decorated and sweets are distributed. I feel honored to be in a society that has embraced Ahlulbayt (as) fully and incorporated them in their daily life. This is something I deeply miss living in the West.
Alhamdulillah we had the opportunity to visit Bayt Al-Noor and had the respected Sheikh Shabbar give a detailed commentary on the auspiciousness of the Lady Masoomeh of Qom. We then paid our respects to the 40 stars (the sadaats) in the nearby vicinity before and even heard the beautiful recitation of Dua Samaat be played on loudspeaker. We then attended the evening prayer at the Haram.
I was blessed to witness the ceremony of trumpets at sunset in the Holy Shrine and its beautiful! This makes me humble and impressed by how different and unique the Shia culture is expressed in each country. I felt in awe of all the respected personalities we paid tribute to and realise the blessing of living in such a holy City!
Day 1 - Thursday 12th April
Tonight is the night of Shahadat of Imam Al-Kadhim (as). He is also known as "Babul Hawaej" (as) the Door of Hajaah (wishes). It is such a wonderful opportunity that we were able to spend this night on the Haram of Her Beloved Daughter Fatima Al-Massuma (sa).
Being a Thursday night we also got the chance to hear the Dua Kumail inside the Holy Shrine in an unique and exceptional way.
We are presenting our sincere condolences to Bibi Massuma (sa), Imam Al-Redha (as) and Imam Al-Mahdi (as). We pray that May Allah (swt) accept our Ziarah and give us the Tawfeeq to bring a real change within ourselves.
Reflections by Br. Zamin Raza and Sabera from India
Immediately when you enter Iran you notice the dress code; in a world that attacks Islam for oppressing women, I feel free and dignified wearing the black chador. It reminds me of my status in the eyes of God.
Iran is a country in the spotlight of the western world but one has to come and experience the country for oneself... Being in Iran I'm constantly reminded about the occultation of our 12 th Imam (aj) and this is incorporated in our daily lives. The love of our Imam (aj) is fed to you all the time during your presence in Iran and it makes me aware of how negligent I've been of the Imam (aj) of our time.
After a warm welcome at the airport, we are welcomed as dear old friends rather than strangers in this country ; a sim card is provided to us so that we can stay in touch with our loved ones.
Entering the Holy City of Qom the excitement is building up to see the Holy Shrine...I feel Fatema Masooma (sa) is the most important woman in Iran and only second to her brother Imam Reza (as) in status in this country. She's the epicenter of Qom and the hawza students refer to her as their "mother". The first visit to the Holy Shrine is emotional, but most of all a very humbling experience... I realized how small and insignificant I am, standing in front of a woman who passed away at age of 18 but has left a legacy behind and current this city of knowledge and illumination is under her patronage. When you sit for some time and observe, you see people of all ages, cultural backgrounds. They've all come because of their love for the Ahlulbayt (as) and they have left their trubbles behind and come with open arms to pray and connect to Allah (swt) through the connection of this Holy Lady.
We are welcomed for introduction in the WF Office and I'm struck by the fact that 17 000 foreign are currently studying in Qom, people from over 80 countries that have dedicated their lives for Islam!
Our first Shab Juma (Thursday night) in Iran is in the Holy Shrine. This also coincides with martyrdom of her Holy Father Imam Kazim (as). I feel a strong sense of unity seeing all the people and feel humbled to be invited and be part of this. Dua Kumayl is recited beautifully with emotions and passion.
The first day ends with a beautiful procession we witness in memory of the martyrdom and subhanllah I experience different ways of grieving than what I grew up with. The grief of the martyrdom of Imam Kazim (as) is deeply felt as I stand in front of his Holy daughter's Shrine.
At the World Federation office, I was pleasantly surprised that it was Alhaj Gulam Virji Esmail (SukuSuku) who had donated the building for the blessing of his Marhum father's soul whose picture was on the wall. I met Gulam Virji in Dubai and he is known to be a generous person doing charitable activities in developing countries.
Sheikh Nadir Jaffer spoke about Ayatollah Hassanzadeh Amoli and his advice/inspiration before embarking on hajj / ziyarat pilgrimage where the Ayatollah said 'get lost and don't come back again'!!
At first when I heard this I thought that it is unlikely that Sheikh Nadir would speak ill about a respectable scholar of Islam. There must be a hidden message.
However after relaying this to one of the Ayatollahs students, he said that the philosophy of the entire hajj/spiritual journey was summarised in that single sentence. "Get lost and don't come back again" means that one should not come back the same way as prior to embarking on the journey. One should be a new person after experiencing such a journey with a new vision/goal. When I reflect back on this it makes me think that I have to make an effort to change after this Ziyarat trip. A hadith says about the person doing Hajj and the ziyaraat of our Imam that it is as if the person is newly born from the womb of his mother. And to know if Ziyarat has been accepted is to see if a person changes after it or not.
After our introduction session at the World Federation office, we met the oldest living marja, grand Ayatollah Lutfollah Safi Golpaygani. The first thing that struck me was his old age. He walked very slowly with a cane and he had a long white beard. It made me feel so ignorant in the presence of such a great marja. He was a treasure of knowledge because he had spent almost his entire life studying Islam.
As I heard his words of wisdom, it made me emotional and tears began rolling down my cheeks particularly when he talked about the importance of raising children in an Islamic way. He referred to a young girl sitting in the room wearing the hijab. He praised the way her parents have brought her up. How much honour and pride it gives to the religion of Islam. When reflecting back on this, I cannot ignore the difficulties of raising children in the west in a non-muslim environment. It is as if the kids have to swim against the tide and as parents, we constantly have to battle the evil forces. We have to ensure that our kids are surrounded by good pious friends who keep them away from alcohol, drugs, illicit relationships, foul language, bad behaviour towards parents and teachers. If we as adults get affected by our environment how can we expect small children to be immune from it?
Perhaps relocating to a Muslim country such as Iran would help? It is a pity that one cannot stay in this country forever. Yes, we do have a good quality of life in the west but if we are judged based on our deeds do we not sometimes have our priorities mixed up? What's the point of having faithless children with huge mansions and luxurious cars?
The Ayatollah was so humble because he said that it was his honour to be in our presence. I thought about how unfortunate it is that we tend to have music or sports role models in the west instead of these real role models. Perhaps I could have pictures of them (marjas) in my daughter's room? That would have a positive influence on her. I wanted to sit right in front of the Ayatollah but was a little disappointed because I was told to sit in the corner of the room. I tried to focus on looking at his face because I remembered that we get sawab just for doing that. I also reminded myself of the purpose of sitting in such gathering (gaining more knowledge of Islam and doing it for Allah's sake). I felt so fortunate to have seen the oldest living marja of our time but at the same time I reminded myself not to show off about it by telling others.
The Ayatollah said that he prays that there will be muwadda & rahma between husbands and wives as mentioned in the Holy Quran and that we are successful in our marriage. He also mentioned that it does not matter whether you are sayyid or non sayyid, anyone who is Shia, we are all lovers of the Ahlul-Bayt and connected to them. As Shias of Imam Ali (a. s) the next day should be better than the previous one. This is because of the pure milk drunk from the mother. He quoted a hadith saying no one is given permission on the day of judgment to be on the sirat except through the permission of Amir al momineen. A sister asked if he had any advice on raising children in the west to which he replied: Our first responsibility is to gain knowledge in aqaeed, aqhlaq, fiqh from the Ahlul-Bayt and then learn how to implement it. He gave his salaams to everyone back home. Someone asked how do you make sure that your actions are purely for the sake of Allah SWT (ikhlas)? He answered that the very intention(determination) to make it sincere for the sake of Allah SWT will result in Him making it sincere. Its two dimensional, one comes from you and the other comes from Allah SWT.
In the evening we attended a lecture by Sheikh Kazim Bhojani. An interesting part of his lecture was when he spoke about how we should divide our day as a believer? Imam Musa al kadhim (a.s) says to try to divide your day into 4 portions (doesn't have to be equal). 1st) munajat with the Lord to strengthen your connection with Him. 2nd) earning halaal income (for students it means studying and for women at home, it means taking care of their duties at home) 3rd) time spent with brothers/sisters in faith 4th) halaal entertainment. You do the 4th part to refresh your soul so that you can do the first 3 parts. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that our Imam would talk about entertainment instead of focusing on mainly ibadat. After reflecting back on this I started to think that perhaps this is one of the reasons why in true essence, our religion is known to be a moderate one. This was also a wake up call because I needed to devote more time and effort on 2 out of 4 parts in my day to day activities.
Day 0 - Wednesday 11th April
Our participants are on their way to Iran. We wish them a safe and a successful journey to Iran.
Stay tuned for daily updates.
Meeting with His Eminence Ayatollah Al-Sistani