Updated on 12 March 2018
Sunday 11th August, 2013
The first day of our mentor training programme was off to a great start as nine mentors, five sisters and three brothers, gathered together to start a three-day training programme at The World Federation’s Qum Office at Dar al-Zahra. After an energising breakfast, we began with introductions by the facilitators: Shaykh Abbas Ismail, Shaykh Komail Rajani, Brother Yasin Rahim, and brother Qasim Gulamhusein. Qasim, who was this year’s mentor support, ran an icebreaker exercise where each of us had an opportunity to learn interesting facts from our peer mentors.
Brother Qasim then helped set our expectations for the three-day training session and identify our fears with the aim to settle them by the end of this course. Understanding what the mentor role entails and the skill set needed to become a good mentor to support the participants in this course was key in setting the goal and tone for our training programme. As mentors, we agreed that opening the lines of communication and strengthening our teamwork skills is essential to be able to reach the intended aim and this was demonstrated by a fun and thought-provoking exercise in trying to build a tower as a team using one piece of paper only without any tool. As we enjoyed this exercise and shared a few laughs, we realised how important teamwork is, as well as listening to, and respecting the opinions of our peers in order to deliver the goal successfully.
Brother Yasin picked our minds further and helped us recognise that sometimes the initial perceptions we form in our minds due to what we physically see can be skewed and biased because we do not see the full picture in its entirety. This point was demonstrated perfectly using the iceberg analogy where the tip is visible for the viewer, representing the initial and immediate perception of a person, is not enough to judge a person because the major body of the iceberg, represented by the inner self of an individual is obscured and ‘hidden under water’. We realised that in order for us to form a true perception about our mentees, we must ask the right questions and learn the facts from them and open the door of dialogue and friendly communication where we can discover a lot the inner self of our mentees which directly impacts their behavior. Furthermore, making an effort to understand the expectations of the participants would help us communicate effectively to their individual personalities. We agreed that trying to comprehend others is a two-way path where we also would like others to understand us properly while avoiding hasty judgment.
After a hearty lunch and break for Salah, Shaykh Komail placed the cherry on the cake as he delivered an excellent and spiritually energising lecture where he presented examples of common concepts such as intercession, remembrance, and other attributes which are often misconceived by us and instead, he shed light on the true meanings of these concepts under the light of guidance of the purified household of the Holy Prophet (SA). Our training was concluded with the most interesting exercise of Myers Briggs Type Indicator where Shaykh Komail sought to explain the difference between different types of personalities which are opposite to each other yet not considered to be wrong or deficient. We sought to understand more about our individual selves by identifying ourselves as either introvert or extrovert, a sensing or intuitive person, a person who follows the heart or mind, and whether we consider ourselves to be more organised than flexible. Reflecting on the hadeeth given by our infallible guides that ‘Whoever knows his Lord knows himself’, we come to understand that Allah (SWT) with His infinite wisdom has created human beings with different colours of personality, just as He created flowers in different types and colours – all with a sweet fragrance – we must accept and respect each other’s personalities and learn to adapt with others even if they are different from us. By trying to understand the types of personalities of our mentees, God-willing, we can perform our roles better in supporting their individual needs and expectations.
After recharging ourselves with an uplifting Ziyarah at the Holy Shrine of Sayyida Masuma (SA) and as we enjoyed ourselves over dinner at a local Kabab place after a long day, we anxiously look forward to Day 2 of the mentor training course, and we hope to learn more about the history and logistics of this course as well as benefit from recommendations of how to make the best decisions in proposed situations by analysing given scenarios.
Written by: Jerrmein Abu Shahba from New Jersey, USA