Read about what the participants get up to with our daily blogs, scroll down to start reading!
Day 11 Blog: Monday 5th August 2019
At 1am, our sleep was instantly broken by the sudden jolt of the bus as it halted. We had arrived at Dar az Zahra after a 5-hour journey from the beautiful city of Hamadan. Our stay was characterized by the shivering feeling of being in freezing damp clothes whether whilst pedalling in the Ali Sadr caves or getting crushed by the rapids of a 30m waterfall. Knackered after such an eventful trip, the crew and I lumbered into our accommodation onto the sufra, where we were welcomed by the heavenly sight of chicken tikka paratha roll. For what reason we were unaware; but we didn't care and proceeded to gobble them down and collapse into a spell of deep sleep. At 5am, we, once again, entered the half-awaken trance very common to us for praying Salatul Fajr.
After breakfast we were privileged to visit a highly respected scholar, who was one of the premier students of numerous esteemed religious intellectuals. He gave us a 30-minute talk about the importance of Aqaid and what logical conclusions may be derived from the Islamic way of thinking. He finished by explaining how smartphones and the internet are effectively our greatest enemies and when given to children unsupervised can cause the destruction of the youth generation. After praying namaaz at the educational and research institute of an acclaimed religious leader, we returned to Dar al Zahra and ate our lunch.
At 6pm, we left for the Haram of Bibi Masuma (sa) to perform Ziyarat before going to the Garden of Martyrs for Salah. Some of the Shuhada buried here are as young as 13.
We recited Surah Fatiha at the graves of 2 Imamzadeh, and all the martyrs. We were then gifted by a recitation of latmiyah by Uncle Sibtain Ghulam Hussein as well as an explanation into the stories of certain martyrs and how they never actually die. Some were found in perfect condition after 10 years and some were academic superstars, but willingly left what they could have become for a greater cause.
That night we each slept feeling connected to our religion with a greater understanding of it, but also with stronger core beliefs. The lesson I learnt which struck me as the most powerful can be summarised by Prophet Jesus (as) when his disciples asked him, 'O Spirit of Allah! With whom must we sit?' He replied, 'With those who remind you of Allah when you look at them, whose speech increases your knowledge and whose deeds draw you to the hereafter.'
- ~Hassan Mithani, UAE
Day 9 Blog: Saturday 3rd August 2019
Hamadan Day 1
We woke up at 04:45, prayed, and half asleep, we boarded the "VIP" bus, and surprisingly to a reclining seat that had a seat belt. On the bus, some of the brothers decided to have their own X-Factor. An Islamic version of course :-).
Our first stop was at the park surrounding Baba Tahir's resting place, where we had our first taste of Iranian Saffron ice cream. We climbed the stairs towards the tomb of the famous, mystical poet. Shaykh Nadir Jaffer, being the knowledgeable person that he is, narrated to us about Baba Tahir and his transition from being a knowledge-hungry illiterate to a famous Saint. We were then fortunate enough to hear one of Baba Tahir's poems, recited in a traditional Hamadani style. Unfortunately, it was rather difficult to understand, but it was still a new experience.
Next; we visited Bu-Ali Sina's museum full of ancient artifacts, ranging from different injection syringes to ancient forms of Hijamah (cupping). We were then given a short biography of the great Muslim philosopher, scientist, doctor and mathematician, known in the West as Avicenna by Agha Ja'fari, and it was translated by Shaykh Yasir.
A few hours later, once we had checked-in to the chalets that over-looked the valleys, we rested up and headed towards the Ganjnameh waterfalls. A group of us, climbed up the cliffs until we were above the actual point of the waterfall. We continued climbing until we reached the cliff edge where we sat with our legs hanging, gazing at the radiating lights through the mist. On the way down, Bilal jumped off the cliff edge and thankfully, just about landed on a flat Rock 3 feet down. Eventually, when we reached the bottom, we took some photos under the waterfall. Then for Dinner we went to a fast food joint and we ate some tender and very crispy fried chicken. Then we returned to our chalets after a long, exhilarating and eventful day.
~Asad Merali, Bab Participant, CoEJ
Day 8 Blog: Friday 2nd August 2019
"Qadqa Matis Salah, Qadqa Matis Salah"
We woke up early at 3:30 am and prepared ourselves for the eventful day ahead. We set off to pray our Fajr salah in the Haram of Bibi Masuma (sa). This was an exceptionally beautiful and spiritual start to the day. We later arrived at Mount Khizr, where we listened to the heart touching recitation of Dua e Nudbah by Br Sibtain Gulamhusein at the bottom of the mountain, which had a mesmerizing view. We used our spiritual mind-set whilst simultaneously embarking on our journey to the top of Mount Khizr.
Upon arriving at the top, we visited the mosque attributed to Prophet Khizr and admired the breath-taking view of the beautiful city of Qum.
After clicking some pictures and descending down the mountain, we thanked Allah (swt) for granting us this amazing opportunity and to give us taufeeq to make the most of it.
Another one of the highlights of our day that truly caused us to contemplate and reminisce our actions throughout our lives was when we visited the family and the Garden of Martyrs, where we paid our respects and, with that, we ended our day and returned home.
- ~Sajeeya Esmail, Bab participant, Afed
Day 7 Blog: Thursday 1st August 2019
We started our day as usual with fajr prayers before resting to prepare ourselves for the upcoming events.
After breakfast we went to our first class which was on the theme of tawheed. We learnt to prove the oneness of God which aided us in our own understanding and equipped us to be able to answer common questions received back home. The lesson also helped us to bring reason to our previous knowledge. Personally, I was able to realize that every action, every movement and every event only takes place with Allah’s permission.
We then proceeded to our second class on Imam Mahdi (a.s.) This was our final lesson on this theme and so we concluded it by discussing how to build a relationship with the Imam, we were enlightened on the importance of building a connection with Him as we have a responsibility to lay the groundwork for His return.
In the third class we learnt about Ghusl e Mayat which we felt was very important.
We then embarked on our journey to do the Ziyarat of 40 stars and Musa Al Mubarqah, the son of Imam e Jawad. We felt moved to be in the presence of the grave of the son of Imam e Jawad (as). Once we completed the Ziyarat, we all prayed to be called back to Iran again so that we could perform the Ziyarat again.
After that, we headed towards the house of an esteemed scholar and were specifically moved by its simplicity. It made us reflect on our own lives as we can get so caught up in this materialistic world that we forget what really matters. As we walked around the house we learnt about the struggles faced, especially during the Iran-Iraq war. To finish our day, we prayed under the open sky which enabled us to connect deeper to Allah.
Finally, we recited Dua e Kumail inside the Haram. The atmosphere was spiritually uplifting which helped us to connect more to the words of the Dua.
Overall, we had a very eventful and enjoyable day and we can’t wait to see what is in store for us in the upcoming weeks!
~Saamia Tejani and Hannah Mamdani, Bab Participants, CoEJ
Day 6 Blog: Wednesday 31st July 2019
"Wake up Asadfatima, at 08:50 my mentor came to me. I woke up and got ready for breakfast and after that we headed towards our classes, starting with Aqaid, Mahdawiyyat and Fiqh. I really got into those topics and felt how merciful Allah (swt) is and indeed Allah (swt) is the best of the planners. In the afternoon we had a reflection session in which we reflect ourselves through the topics and try to implement further in our life.
At 17:45 we left for the best day, yes, the English bookshop, as I like books and shopped from there. There were varieties of books to be picked from and after that we visited the 3rd largest Muslim library in the world, the Library of one of the Scholars where Shaykh Nadir gave a brief introduction on the library and the life, nobility, humbleness of the Scholar and about how he preserved his library and reached to such a level with the duas of his parents.
Unfortunately, we couldn't see the library as it was closed during the holiday season, but we were spiritually uplifted and then headed towards the Haram for Maghribain prayers. At 21:15 we had to leave for outside dinner, where we had crispy fries, cheesy pizza, delicious burgers and refreshing mojito. We enjoyed alot and finally and we came back to the Jamia and got ready to sleep and our mentor Abeer told us, "Light out girls!" and here we ended up a great day.
~Asadfatima Bhimani, Bab group, India
Day 5 Blog: Tuesday 30th July 2019
On our first Tuesday morning in Qum, we began our day with classes that were interactive and filled with knowledge. We decided to play volleyball in our free time as the evening program in Jamkaran was after 18:00. As we were playing, the time flew by so quickly without us realizing, that we got late for the program, again.
As we reached Jamkaran mosque, Shaykh Nadir began the program by giving us a talk on our duty in regards to the Imam of our time (ATF) and the connection with him. He also described what it meant to the people who travel for hours every Tuesday just to be there. They usually spend the night at the mosque and leave the next morning.
The following event was a speech from Maulana Syed Nusrat Bukhari. Being a huge fan of his online videos, I was eager to hear what he had to say. He said that his goal was to use media to have a positive influence and spread Islamic teachings to every corner of the world. He also mentioned some shows and movies that I had watched and described how oblivious we were of the hidden messages that they contain which preach unislamic things.
He also told us about two anecdotes that were linked to the 12th Imam, one of which was the story about a young man who studied in Paris but was from South East Asia. To summarize the story, the boy was in trouble and he asked Imam Mahdi (atfs) that if He came to help him, he would recite his prayers on time. Soon after, he saw a man come and solve the problem and before the man left, he approached the boy and told him "Don't forget your promise!" and that's when the boy realized that the man was none other than Imam Mahdi (atfs), and from that day on, the boy kept his promise that he made to the Imam (atfs).
After our meeting with Syed Nusrat, we proceeded to the most emotional part of the night, probably and arguably of the whole course, a dua Tawassul that struck the heart with every verse as Jamkaran lit up with the passionate chorus of Ya Wajihaan Ind’Allah. And as the night ended, this was the first time we all slept on time.
- ~Qassim Lalji, Bab Participant, CoEJ and another Bab participant
Day 4 Blog: Monday 29th July 2019
We began our day with the twilight program which included a reflection session. In our reflection session on the right-hand side we could see the whole of Qum and on the left-hand side we could see Mount Khizr with a shining dome that brought peace into our hearts. When we looked to the hectic city, I realised how our life can be so attached to worldly matters and materialism. But when I looked up at the mountain, I realised that my spiritual growth should be the real ambition.
We went to visit the house of light, and as soon as I entered, the first thing that caught my attention was the mesmerising mehrab in which Hazrat Fatema Masuma (sa) spent her last days and nights in prayer. There I stood in complete awe and I poured my heart out to her. Within a few minutes, I felt as if Hazrat Fatema Masuma was right by me listening to me.
Despite spending only seventeen days, she departed from this the world leaving her positive energy and blessings which we all take home and cherish.
~Fatema Zahra Damji, Bab Participant, AFed
Day 3 Blog: Sunday 28th July 2019
The day started by waking everyone up for Fajr in the morning after a long night of getting to know each other better.
After prayers, we all went to sleep and woke up to a variety of choices for breakfast at 9am. We then proceeded for our first morning of classes which began with Shaykh Asad's deep insight into the relationship between Aqaid and Imaan, and how important it is to us. We then had Shaykh Jabir Chandoo, who introduced the topic of whether we are on the right mind-set to lead an Islamic way of life and finally we had Shaykh Ali explain how the most important concern of our lives should be the whereabouts of our Imam and why we can't see him yet.
In the afternoon, we visited Bayt al-Noor and learnt about its historical significance as being the residence of Bibi Masoumeh (sa) in Qum. We were blessed to have an inspiring talk from Sayyid Razavi. After praying our respects, we went to the Haram for Maghribayn prayers which is always a pleasure and an experience we cherish. We then came home, had a delicious dinner and went to bed.
~Bab Participant, CoEJ
Day 2 Blog: Saturday 27th July 2019
wn of the 27th of July 2019 the girls and I at Bab-al-ilm and Madinah-al-ilm wake up and gather in the common rooms of our apartments for our daily Fajr prayers, a beautiful start to a highly spiritual day. After a few hours of getting to know and breaking the ice with the newly arrived CoEJ girls, the mentors come to transport us to the swimming pool at Jamiatuz Zahra’s Sports Facility. We all enjoyed the relaxing and therapeutic swim session along with jokes, laughter, fun and games. We all return to the Jamia to wash up, have lunch and prepare for the visit to the Haram. This was, without doubt, the highlight of our day. We enter the Haram and commence on our individual spiritual journeys. The moment my eyes fell upon the blessed Dhari of the Holy personality Bibi Masuma (a.s) tears wouldn’t stop falling, it was as if my entire life played before me, everything falling peacefully into perspective. The tranquil atmosphere at the Haram motivated all of us to contemplate our lives, to humble us, give us the patience and the strength to take on the world as representatives of the awaited Imam (atfs).
We prayed Jamaat Namaz at the sehen of one of the greatest shrines in the world and prepared to return home emotionally uplifted, simultaneously leaving with a lot of personal thinking to do. As we arrived to our rooms we got into our Pyjamas and gathered at the common room for our dinner. We devoured the delicious shawarmas and had a long session of introducing ourselves and cracking jokes. Just as I prepared to go to my room, the mentors start chanting “Happy Birthday” and I saw a gigantic cake coming my way, we all took loads of photos and cherished every single second of that memorable moment. At the end of the day, the most divine present I could ever receive was to spend my birthday with Bibi Masuma (a.s) in the Holy city of Qom along with likeminded individuals in the same spiritual struggle as me.
~Zainab Saboor, Madinah Participant, AFed
Day 1 Blog: Friday 26th July 2019
We woke up around 11 am, ate breakfast and performed Ghusl Jumuah. We then walked to the Musallah for the Friday prayers. On our return, Shaykh Yasir explained the khutbahs to us in English. After lunch, we played UNO and dodgeball before getting ready to go to the Haram for Ziyarat and Salat Maghribayn. From there, we went to an area called Zaytoon and visited a 'zoo'. Finally, we went to a nice buffet restaurant, ate dinner and returned back to our accommodation and remained awake until Fajr Salah.
~Bab Participant, Dubai UAE
The Curriculum Development team of the Madrasah Centre of Excellence (MCE), in conjunction with the Centre of Islamic Learning (CIL), NASIMCO, held a consultation workshop on the Draft Curriculum Framework for Madrasah.