Updated on 12 March 2018
Wednesday 14th August, 2013
Fear. Apprehension. Confusion. These are typical reactions to the first day in a new country with a foreign culture, climate, and language. Being surrounded by new faces – having left all friends and family back at home – doesn’t help. Toss in the fact that the inflated currency system is marred with ambiguity, and that crossing the street is now an extreme sport, and that the temperatures typically reach nearly 40°C in the sweltering afternoon heat… it certainly seems like a nightmare!
Except… it wasn’t. Under the shadow of the magnificent shrine of Sayyidah Fatimah Ma’soomah in Qum, there was a pervading sense of serenity and comfort, and all thoughts of unease were drowned out by the eager anticipation of what activities and journeys lay ahead. For the fifteen of us here to start the three week Bab and Madinah summer camps – ten boys in the Bab group and five older ones in Madinah, along with a few friendly mentors and organizers – this was the start of what we hope will be a fulfilling and life-changing experience.
The first day was predictably a laid-back and easy-going one, as group members continued to arrive in small clusters until the early afternoon. After a brief introduction session and a formal opening ceremony, we set out for one of the most highly anticipated item in our jam-packed camp itinerary: the Ziyarat of the holy lady of the city, Sayyidah Ma’soomah. For most of us, it was the first time performing this Ziyarat. For many of us, it was the first time performing any Ziyarat. But for each of us, mentors and students alike, it was an awe-inspiring opportunity and a breath-taking experience.
There’s something distinctly dignified and graceful about the sight of the brilliant golden dome and the majestic blue minarets, glimmering in the dark night sky. There is a beauty that photographs can’t quite capture, and an emotion that words don’t fully describe. However, perhaps the greatest part of the Ziyarat was the awareness that we were near a personality that has a truly remarkable status in the eyes of Allah. This understanding was greatly developed by the reflection sessions we shared before arriving at the Haram, and it is sessions like these that make me most hopeful and excited about the next few weeks.
Being physically near the Ahlul Bayt is one thing, but being spiritually near them, regardless of time or location, is another thing altogether. InshaaAllah, we hope to gain both of these blessings during this camp, so that when we return to our homes, families, and comfort zones, we will arrive as improved individuals, clearly demonstrating the effects and benefits of this spiritual pilgrimage.
Written by: Maysam Panju from Toronto, Canada