Today was my birthday and it was one of the best birthdays I have ever had. Even though I was away from my family, I had an amazing birthday, thanks to the organizers, mentors and the participants for making it one of the best birthdays I have had!
Dua e Kumail at Haram of Sayyida Masums (sa)
Thursday 4th August 2016
Muhammad Talib Surani from the UK
The day started off quickly and we had a workshop with Dr Fazili who teaches at a university in Iran. He enlightened us on the concepts of Moral Agent (Niyah), Moral Act (Amal) and Moral Recompense (Jazaah on the day of Judgement).
After reciting the Dhuhr prayers, we had Nihari which was delicious and spicy as chilli. We left for Gulzare Shohada. The stories that we heard were absolutely unbelievable. There were 4000 Shohada out of which a few were kids that were shot or killed during the Iran War.
We headed to the Haram of Sayyida Masuma (as) for Dua Kumail. When you hear the Dua Kumail in the Haram it doesn't take much to break in tears because after every few paragraphs there were tragedies being recited which was translated by Agha Amin to English. The thawab of reciting Dua Kumail in the Haram of Sayyida Masuma (as) after the day of her Birthday is great.
Juma'h Salah in the Holy City
On the 5th of August, I awoke from my slumber, and rose slowly. The night was weary, and so were my roommates, as for most of us, waking up for Fajr might be a hard task. After ten to fifteen minutes, we were all awake, slowly walking, performing wudhu, and rushing for namaz at Masjid-e-Jamkaran.
Afterwards, we decided to recite Dua Nudba with each other, in the comfort of the accomodation in Qum. What was amazing was the unity of the brothers, keeping each other awake to recite and discuss translation. Afterwards, we ate breakfast early and got some rest. I needed energy for the day, and what a day it was!
We went for Jum'ah prayers at Masjid (Musalah) and even though the Khutbas were in Farsi, we could feel the energy of the speaker, the crowd in the mosque, and our group. After that, we traveled on a bus back towards our hotel, while hearing Agha Amin speak about the significance of the Khutbas that we couldn't understand in Farsi, how it discussed the West and it's actions, as well as deeper Islamic discussions regarding nature. When we reached the accomodation, we sat for lunch, was Nihari. What a blessing! Then it was time to play sports...football! Not American football, I mean standard football, otherwise known in the U.S.A. as soccer. It was a good bonding experience with my fellow participants. Right after that, we prayed Maghrib and received the opportunity to speak with Sheikh Bhayani, who's first language was Farsi, but amazingly, he described the origin and division of Satan amongst our current population, as well as answering our questions regarding science, history, and the dimensions of this world.
After a tiring night, we rested and awaited for the next day, when we would go to...Hamadan.
Laith Devjiyani, Bab boy, New York, USA
Spiritual purification of The Self
The call of the Adhaan echoing from Masjid Jamkaran wasn't just a noise that penetrated our ears, but echoed in our hearts too. As we finished our Fajr prayers, we were still reminiscing the lessons we learnt from the miraculous cave from the previous day in Hamadan.
After Fajr prayers we finally got some sleep, but after a few hours Br Mohammad came in to our room and woke us up for class.
The teacher today was Agha Ameen and the topic of the day was Nafs.
The class was three hours and very interesting, I felt very enlightened with knowledge after today's session.
Later that day we went swimming with the group in Qum and had lots of fun. It felt like the group got a better connection and we really felt like Brothers.
It was time to go home, when we arrived at the hotel , we first prayed our Maghrib and Isha prayers and had dinner.
The day consisted of many spiritual lessons, not just limited to the classroom. Even in the swimming pool, we learnt the importance of not only inner purification but outer purification. Water in our diet is essential to avoid physical malnutrition but it also helps purify our Nafs with acts like Wudhu and Ghusl.
Aliraza Punjani from Peterborough, UK, and Taha Hussain Damani from Sweden
A Trip to Hamadan
6th August - 7th August
We left for Hamadan early morning, Hamadan is a greener and cooler place. The trip was planned with lots of fun activities and sight seeing.
Ali Sadr Cave - This cave was formed 190 Million years ago. It is said by experts that this cave can withstand an earthquake of magnitude 12 (Richter scale). We can link this to our Nafs as it should be able to survive no matter what happens to it.
The cave was huge and had beautiful natural landform. This emphasises how anything could look normal from the outside, however, it is the inner beauty that matters. This also shows us how Allah (swt) takes care of the cave. If Allah takes care of the cave why wouldn't He the Almighty take care of us?
Overall the cave was a hidden treasurewaiting to be explored.
Baba Taher - Baba Taher was a man who lived a long time ago. He strived for knowledge but whatever he learnt, he didn't understand. This led to people mocking him to the point that he got kicked out of the class by his teacher. However he didn't give up. One night he saw a child, he thought that this child might know a secret to gaining knowledge. So the child mocked him and told him to jump into freezing pool. When Baba Taher did this, he gained knowledge and could write philosophical poems that no one could understand.
From the inspirational story we can learn that no matter how bad a situation gets, we shouldn't give up.
Abu Ali Sina - We visited the grave and museum of Abu Ali Sina he was one of the first greatest philosophers. His knowledge spreads from mathematics to law and into multiple subjects, he was excellent in all of them.
He has written books on medicine (which had lead to amazing new medicine being discovered), philosophy, mathematics, and law.
He was the one who encouraged other scientist/philosophers to research. We can impliment this into our lives as we will keep ganing knowledge if we will keep gaining knowledge if we research, knowledge doesnt have a full stop.
Ali Abbas Rashid from UK and
Ali Meesam from Dubai
Wednesday 10th Aug
Connection with Salah
The day started with Fajr prayers at Masjid-e-Jamkaran. The feeling of praying at such a special place really invigorates the soul. I will truly miss it when we depart for Mashhad.
After breakfast, we had a workshop in which we learnt about the qualities of marriage. All of the workshops so far have been very informative. The teachers have really inspired me with their lessons by explaining difficult concepts in such a simple manner.
In the afternoon, we went for paint balling which was an interesting experience. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed it as it involved teamwork and a lot of energy.
Even though we were all extremely exhausted afterwards, we quickly found a Masjid in which we prayed our Salaat. I really love the fact that in Iran there is always a place of worship just around the corner. Salaat is one of the central pillars of this religion and already I feel that my connection and emphasis on Salaat has improved. Hence I truly believe that this trip is already showing signs of success for me.
Hasnain Raza from the UK (Madinah boy)
Thursday 11th August 2016
Final Reflections in Qum
Today marked another early start, which was somewhat difficult for the participants following the recovery from the intensive paint balling session yesterday; nonetheless we were all eager for the twilight session on Mount Khidr, especially after the touching success of Tuesday morning's programme at Shaykhain graveyard. We left Jamkaran immediately after Fajr for the Mount, which was only 5km away. Following the first section of the climb, we stood besides the commemoration place of the unknown martyrs where Sheikh Nadir gave us an unforgettable reflection session on the reality of this world and the hereafter, symbolised by 3 levels. The place where we stood overlooked much of the holy city of Qum, which represented the dunya (1st level) and we had ascended to barzakh (2nd level, dimension between death and resurrection). As we looked below us amidst the sunrise, it appeared as if the inhabitants of the city were immersed in their slumber due to the serenity on the mountain, with worldly affairs looking insignificant from our perspective as we had awoken to the reality. As we reached the top at the Mosque of Prophet Khidr (as), barzakh also appeared to be a small entity below us and we were now at the 3rd level, resurrection. After the recommended prayers, we had a small lecture on the etiquettes of supplication, particularly preparing us for the imminent visitation of Imam Ridha (as).
Upon return to our accommodation, Madinah boys engaged in an interactive workshop on the Elements of Human Decline, highlighting the affects of our Nafs upon our actions and strategies to overcome such issues. In the late afternoon, we were blessed to be a handful of visitors to the dhareeh that is due to be placed in Samarra once the ongoing situation in Iraq settles. Thereafter we made our way to the haram of Lady Masuma (as) and listened to one of the most powerful recitations of Dua Kumayl in our lives that spiritually moved us - hopefully this elevated feeling remains. As we once more returned to our accommodation to begin our packing, the heartbreaking feeling of leaving the shrine of the blessed Lady and the holy city of Qum was transpiring, yet we were looking forward to our upcoming visit to the land of Mashhad of our holy 8th Imam (as).
Mahdi Abbas Juma (Madinah boy) UK
Friday 12th August 2016
Following our final Fajr prayers in the Blessed Mosque of Jamkaran and a touching Dua Nudba session, we finished our packing and with heavy hearts prepared for our final visitation of Lady Masoumeh (sa). After the ziyarah, we had a reflection session in the courtyard just as we were saying our farewells and asking for the opportunity to visit the blessed shrine again in the near future Insha'Allah. The reflection personally moved me, as it positioned myself in such a manner as to aspire to be a pious person to look up to Lady Masoumeh (sa) not just as an infallible, saintly individual as we are constantly referred to but as an active 'mother' figure that impacts upon our lives in several aspects; thus this would mean being a son with significant responsibilities walking on the path of AhlulBayt (as).
Thus, we departed Qum for the capital city of Tehran from where we would catch our sleeper train to Mashhad. As we boarded, we were amazed by the quality of facilities on the Fadak train, with each cabin seating (or sleeping) 4 - or should I say at least 4 as we all ended up having a discussion, reflection, and recitation session in each other's cabins. We were also amazed that the train stopped at precisely Maghrib time at a station for passengers to pray - this is how the soldiers of the 12th Imam (atfs) go about activities in their daily lives.
Mahdi Abbas Juma (Madinah boy) UK
I felt blessed with the opportunity to experience the beautiful recitation of Dua Tawassul read in the Haram of Imam Ar-Redha (AS). This was a very special moment for me as I've never established such a strong connection with any other Dua.
With three days to go, we wanted to make the most of the trip to Nishapour. That was the destination of our two hour journey, and in order to spend the majority of the day in Nishapour, we had to wake up at 7AM, earlier than usual.