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.
Wednesday 2nd August, Day 17
We started off by Fajr prayers in the morning at 04:02 and then everyone went back to sleep. The mentors had to wake us all up by 08:00 in order for us to have breakfast and get ready for the day. By 9:15, all of us were on the couch ready to go to the biggest indoor water park!
There were a variety of different slides for all of us to go on, which was extremely fun. We had lunch there and by 16:15 we were heading back to the hotel and getting ready for shopping.
Many of us were buying rings and other rare souvenirs for our family. After that, we went back to the hotel to drop off what we had bought and then made our way as a group towards the Holy Shrine for Maghrib prayers and Ziyarah7. We stayed at the Haram until 21:00 in different groups and then headed back to the hotel for dinner.
Written by: Aliridha Suleiman. Bab-al-ilm
Monday 31st July, Day 15
After an overnight journey aboard on the express train that lasted around 10 hours, we finally arrived in Mashhad. We somewhat reluctantly stepped out of the VIP cabins but were excited to be in this holy city and made our way to our hotel. After room allocations and a second breakfast, we settled down and unpacked here for the remainder of the camp and made our way for Salaatul Jama'ah.
After freshening up and performing the recommended ghusl for the Ziyarah and having some lush Chelo kebabs accompanied with zamzam cola, we sat downstairs in the lobby and were once more briefed on the importance of the visitation of our 8th Holy Imam before we made our way to the Holy shrine of Imam Ali al-Ridha (as).
After the security check at the gate, we entered with the recitation of Idhn -e- dukhool and the Ziyarah. We proceeded to the basement where the crowds are less and thereafter towards the courtyard for Maghribayn prayers. We prayed in a congregation and then walked back to the hotel whilst contemplating on our actions of the day and thinking about making any amends to our lives.
We had dinner at the hotel and had a rest period before gathering in one of the rooms for a beautiful friendly discussion on the difference between recitation and connection in Ziyarah.
At the end of the day, everyone was exhausted so we went to get some rest before the trip to Neyshaboor ahead.
Written by: Shabbir Rashid, Bab –al -ilm
Saturday 29th July, Day 13
Today was the last day we would have the opportunity to gain knowledge from our revered teachers in Qum. In our first class, we presented an overview of the in-depth discussions into each chapter of usool-e-deen. Within our second class with Sayyid Madani, we gained an insight into signs of the munafiqeen and lastly, our last class explored the role that Istighfar, Tawbah and A'maal play in our lives.
This was our last day in the Holy city of Qum and this allowed us all to ponder if we had achieved closeness to Allah (swt) through our love for Bibi Ma'sooma (sa). The atmosphere was beautiful with everyone giving their farewell Salaams to the Holy personality, and it was difficult to say goodbye to one of the greatest cities of knowledge.
Reciting our farewell ziyarah was as if we were leaving a piece of our heart behind as a reminder of our washed away sins or, heightened state of spiritual purity.
Written by: Abbas Nathoo Rajan
Wednesday 26th July 2017, Day 10
Today for once we didn't have the mentors need to pull our blankets that we usually latch onto as we managed to be in the routine of waking up. After Adhan, we all prayed and ran back straight to our mattresses to get another few hours of heart-warming sleep. When we woke up, the Aghas presented us with an ample amount of eggs toast and the authentic khoja signature chai with an even amount of Doodh! The day was followed by the 3 inspiring classes the first one lead by Shaykh Assad Dharsi proving the existence and the greatness of the Almighty Allah (SWT).
The next class was about the Quran and the in-depth life lessons to apply and implement into our changing lives. The last and final class was the class taught by Agha Amin, this class was for me the most relevant class, why? Well, due to the fact that without this class we would not know how to control the lustful feelings that we have as growing teenagers so from taking metaphors from the Quran to getting specific examples from Ahadith, all of us benefitted greatly. Soon after that, we gathered in the main hall to conduct Salah which was followed by some really nice lunch and after that, a bit of free reflection time.
After 20 mins, we all needed a good break so all of us made our way to the bus. After Dua-e Safar we made our way to the swimming pool center where we had the choice to go to the Olympic pool or the VIP. We all got excited and we separated ways and everyone had their own individual fun. The best part of all of this was it was very secluded.
Written by: Muhammed Kermali - Bab Student
Tuesday 25th July, Day 9
Today was the day after Janabe Ma'sooma (sa)'s wiladat. It started at Fajr with our first twilight program. Straight after Salaat, we went to mount khidhr for reflection. We were given a task-based on the embodiment of divine names Al-Hayy and Al-Mumeet. We had to contemplate on our entire life and how successful it was. After contemplating, we all gave our feedbacks to Shaykh and then headed home to sleep. We again woke up for breakfast and our day restarted at 10 with classes.
Lunch was followed by free time which we should have used to sleep but again we spent the time chilling and skipping compulsory reflection time. After free time we headed to the historical house where Lady Ma'sooma (sa) stayed in Qum. The house was so simple and her time there was short. After a heart-warming lecture, we did our supplications and headed to Jamkaran mosque. We did our jamaat salaat and sat down through a Farsi lecture before Dua Tawassul started. It was the most beautiful recitation I had ever heard in my life and it was so uplifting. Though it was very long and had many farsi sections which I couldn't understand, the whole atmosphere and feeling were still amazing.
After the Dua finished we headed back for dinner and ended up falling asleep faster than usual due to our exhaustion.
Written by: Muhammad-Abbas Lalji
Monday 26th July, Day 8
Today was the birthday of the Holy Lady Bibi Ma'sooma (sa). From the morning, even though we were exhausted, we were buzzing for the program later that day, discussing reciters and nasheeds. We had our breakfast as usual and then started the day's classes from 10. Until Zohr we were in class with breaks between each 50-minute session.
After Zohr and lunch, we had a break until 5:30 PM which we should have used wisely to rest, but as usual, we didn't! We passed the time playing volleyball and card games. At 6 the coach picked us up and we headed to the library of Ayatollah Marashi Najafi (ra) where we were able to visit his shrine. Shaykh Nadir gave us some touching stories and in awe we recited our prayers. After that, we headed to the Haram to pay our respects on the holy Wiladat. After lovely recitations from the Shaykhs, we went into the packed haram to do our own Ziyarat. We stayed until Jamaat namaaz and left for the hawza straight after.
The coach ride back was the best of the journey. The whole coach gathered and recited together for the auspicious occasion. Once we reached Dar al-Zahra (sa), we had our dinner and were meant to head to sleep. Of course, we didn't! We stayed up chilling and disturbing our lovely mentors till the very late hours of the night!
Written by: Muhammad-Abbas Lalji
Sunday 23rd July 2017, Day 7
We started our second breath-taking day in Hamadan with Fajr prayers led by Shaykh Nadir Jaffer. Although everyone stayed up late the night before when we went to Hamadan Viewpoint where we had a late night discussion with some scrumptious watermelons and played some memorable carnival games, not a single soul missed the dawn prayers (which is a feat and a half trust me).
After Fajr prayers, everyone went back to bed and woke up at around 9:15 and headed off to eat Iran's signature breakfast, naan with butter, cheese and an assortment of jams. We then went to visit our first historical landmark of the day, the grave of Bu Ali Sina, one of the greatest physicians of the time. Agha Amin told us a great story about how important true friendship is, based on the life of Bu Ali Sina and his friend.
Straight after, we went to visit another shrine, and that was of Baba Tahir, one of the devoted poet that revolutionised our way of life with his humbleness and sincerity. This shows that a person does not have to be of high class to make a difference in society. Even a person of lower class can change the dynamics of a system purely based on his actions and sincerity. We also got the opportunity to listen to a follower of Baba Tahir reciting a beautiful and eloquent Farsi poem.
Shortly after departing from Baba Tahir's shrine, both the Bab & Madinah Kids rushed off to the caves of Ali Sadr where a few of the highlights of my trip were created. The first one was praising Allah's creations like the many stalactites and stalagmites made over the past few millions of years. In addition, two Bab members tipped over the boat when we were taking a ride in the cave making the trip memorable and one for the books.
We ended the trip to Hamadan by going back on the luxury bus back to Qom and stopping for Maghribain Salaat at Saveh, the place where Bibi Ma'sooma (as) and her caravan were arrested. The trip to Hamadan was definitely unforgettable and one I'll remember for years to come.
Written by: Mujahid Jaffer, USA, Madinah Student
Saturday 22nd July 2017, Day 6
Well, another packed and busy day but a lot of fun, excitement and many smiles. Half an hour before the Fajr prayers, the participants of Bab and Madinah began to rise for the long road trip to Hamadan, praying at Dar Al Zahra and having amazing egg rolls on the way to Hamadan.
Our bus arrived at around 4:45 early in the morning all ready to go, we loaded our luggage on to the bus and began our journey. Most of us took a nap as our journey was going to be long and tiring. As we left the Holy City of Qum, we were met by the beautiful scenery of farms and open grasslands on the way to Hamadan. As our journey progressed, many of us woke up and played UNO cards on the way.
As we entered the city of Hamadan, we visited the natural history museum and then went for a delicious traditional lunch, then made our way to our motel to unpack and take a short break before visiting the mountains and riding on the tele-cabins. We made it to our destination and rode on the tele-cabins towards the top before taking some group and individual pictures for our social media platforms. We also did some trekking towards higher points of the mountain. We did taste a bit of the fresh water that was available for free at the top. One of our amazing Shaykhs, Shaykh Nadir showed us the graves of some of the martyrs that were buried there. We then took tele-cabins towards the bottom.
As planned for the day, we made our way to the Ganjnameh scriptures and Waterfalls. The energy, ambiance, and environment were so lively, exciting. We had to make our way by foot to the top. Many of us walked right under the waterfall to experience the cold and refreshing waterfalls. As the time for Maghrib prayers approached we made our way to the bottom and finally found a place to pray and do wudho. We were quite tired as it had been a long day but at the end of our prayers, we were given an amazing lecture from one of our great teachers, Agha Amin. There is one point that was notable in this lecture, Agha mentioned that when we strive and struggle to pray on time, and together, in such circumstances our prayers become greater, and they have a greater chance of acceptance in the eyes of Allah.
Alhamdulillah, we had an amazing and fun packed day. I hope this blog gives you an insight into how our day went and also learn from our great experiences. With that, I am very thankful to the organisers, teachers, mentors and my Parents for allowing and giving me such a great experience.
Written by: Adam F Khakoo. Bab Summer course participant, Middle East
Friday 21st July 2017, Day 5
I'll keep this short and will describe my feelings in three words. Life changing, spiritual and mind blowing.
This journey truly takes one closer to Allah SWT.
Visiting the lady of light in the city of knowledge QOM, listening to DUA-E- TAWASSUL in the presence of the beloved son of Zahra (ATFS) at the grand mosque of Jamkaran frees one from the shackles of this world.
Having a chance to talk to, learn and just observe various scholars such as, Shaykh Mohammed Ali Ismail, Shaykh Nadir Jaffar, Shaykh Amin and Shaykh Mustafa creates a reformation within and strengthens our connection with the awaited savior, Yuf-E-Zahra, the soul of this world, Imam Mahdi AS. I pray to Allah to grant them a long life so that they can continue with this mission.
Today was my first Friday, Alhamdulillah I was blessed with an opportunity to pray Salatul Jummah at the Musallah of Qom. The prayers were led by Ayatullah A'Araafi who is the current head of all of the Hawzas in this city.
With trembling feet, I entered Gulzar-e-Shohada for the Ziyarah of the Shohada. Words from the famous tribute "Fasle Gul Hai Ab Jahan main, Ae Shaheedo Tum Kaha Ho" ... echoing in my ears. I don't have enough words to express how I felt after listening to the miraculous events which took place between a mother and her son after his Shadaat and between a small daughter and her father really shook my soul and was a real wake-up call. The biggest lesson I learned was that one has to fight and conquer his inner self first. The power which these special souls have proven in many ways that they are still alive. As mentioned in the Holy Quran Surah Ale Imran verse 169 - "And never think of those who have been killed in the way of Allah as dead; nay they are alive and receiving provision from their Lord".
Firstly I send my salutations to the martyrs of Karbala and then to the soldiers who have been martyred in the way of Allah for protecting our holy sites especially the Shrine of Syeda Zainab (May peace and blessings be on her).
I firmly believe they have achieved a very high status in the eyes of Allah SWT; and would be standing behind the army of Imam Hussein (AS) in Jannah, under the flag of the commander in chief Abal Fadhl. May Allah (SWT) give us the Tawfeeq to follow in their footsteps and grant us martyrdom.
To sum up this trip truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I cannot wait to stand under the golden dome to send my salutations to the King of Khorasan, Imam Ridha (AS).
I pray to Allah (SWT) to hasten the reappearance of Imam-e-Zamana (AS) and to include us all in his companions.
Written by: Ahsan Habib Mukhtarali - Madinah
Thursday 20th July 2017, Day 4
Another tremendous day with an early start on Shahadat day, the time of Fajr approached where everyone rose to begin the day. Soon after prayers, breakfast was served; gaining both a physical and spiritual energizer that was necessary for the long day that followed.
The bus arrived, and we all climbed onto the bus full of energy ready to view the film production site of the movie "Muhammad Rasool- Allah (SAWW)". The setting was split into three sections: Makkah, Madina and Basra. As soon as we approached the replica 'Madina', we were explained about some of the historical virtues & background by our one and only Agha Amin. The replica model of Madina was created extraordinarily, with beautiful scenes and sights to see. We saw the entire settings that were used for the insightful movie such as the house of our Holy Prophet (pbuh). Following 'Madina', we visited the replica model of 'Makkah' and 'Basra'. It was as if we had traveled back in time to the time of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in Makkah. A beautiful replica of the Holy Ka'aba, as well as some idols and houses, had been built to represent the days in the past at the Holy Prophet's time. We were given a fascinating tour alongside a delicious lunch followed by Zohr and Asr prayers.
After a lengthy tour, we returned back to Dar-uz-Zahra, all of us crashing down exhausted, resting ourselves preparing for the visitation of Bibi Fatima-al-Ma'sooma (AS). We took the bus once again towards the Haram.
Words are not enough to describe the feeling of being in the Holy Shrine. The Haram is another home for the Shia of Amir-al-Mumineen (AS). Trust me, every time you enter that haram, it is always a profound experience which renews everytime you step in. We performed the Ziyarah at the Holy Shrine. It felt like a completely different world, upon entering the Haram. A special connection could be felt between us and this holy personality. The lady of Qum. As we got closer to the shrine of Bibi Fatima-al-Ma'sooma (AS), our hearts were trembling eagerly wanting our duas to be accepted by Allah (SWT). The time of Maghrib came, and the adhan was recited beautifully calling all Mumineen at once to perform this special meeting with Allah (SWT).
After the prayers were performed, Masaib began where everyone was weeping for Imam Ja'far as-Sadiq (AS). Furthermore, we all raised our hands up together in the congregation for Dua Kumayl. The special Thursday night dua in which we praise Allah (SWT) and ask for forgiveness. The feeling you get in the Haram is of shame and regret. You are performing this Dua with the presence of Bibi Fatima-al-Ma'sooma (AS) there who had an extremely high level of faith. The connection between you and Allah (SWT) during this dua is just absolutely unbelievable. You have to be there yourself to truly feel this connection. The recitation was beautiful and heartbreaking.
Alhamdulillah, after having an extraordinary day, we returned back to our accommodation and rested ready for the next day.
Written by: Ammar Ali Jaffer - Bab
Wednesday 19th July 2017, Day 3
Third day in the holy city of Qom. Such a beautiful city that can't be described in words. We finally got to know everyone and all of us got along quite well.
In the morning at around 4:30 we all woke up for Fajr. Some of us that woke up early got to go to the Haram to pray Fajr. The rest just prayed at Dar uz-Zahra. Soon after Fajr, breakfast was served. We all had a nice and healthy breakfast for the long and exciting day ahead of us.
After our breakfast, we had our 3 very interesting classes starting from 10:00.
Introduction to Sahifa al-Sajjadiyyah, illuminations from the Holy Book and youth issues. Our teachers were very nice and experienced. Our classes finished around 15 minutes before Duhr prayers.
Today was one of the participants birthdays so we had arranged a cake. We had asked one of the Shaykhs to say some words of advice but not to make it clear that we had brought a cake. When the Shaykh finished, we sang happy birthday in Arabic and recited Dua Faraj and the cake came in. As a matter of fact, that participant is my friend and had warned me not to get him a cake! When he saw the cake, he gave me the look that wasn't very pleasant. The cake was enough for everyone.
We had gotten around 3 hours of resting time before we went for The Prophet Muhammad (SAWW) movie. Most of the people slept because it had been a tiring day and we were going to be awake till late because we were going to the Haram and had our 6th holy Imam's Wafaat program at night.
When everyone woke up, we got ready and left. The full cinema hall was hired just for us and the movie had full English subtitles. When we arrived, we all got a drink and sat at our seats. The movie was 2 hours and 30 minutes long. It was about the holy Prophet's entire life story from birth to when he was an adult. The movie was very interesting and people learnt a lot from it.
Soon after the movie, we had a Wafaat program for Imam Ja'far Sadiq (AS). We had a short recitation from the Holy Quran, Marsia, Majlis, Matam and delicious Nyaz. The Majlis was recited in English by Shaykh Ismail.
Finally, after a long day, it was time for us to sleep and get ready for the next day:)
Written by: Ali Ridha Fazal, Bab Ul Ilm Student, Middle East
Tuesday 18th July 2017, Day 2
Second day in heaven. And as obvious as it may sound, I'm most obviously unable to express myself just like a thirsty man who sees rain after years of a drought. My imperfect words are no match for an atmosphere blessed with heavenly perfection. So keeping that crucial information in mind, we can proceed to the happenings of the day, which I tend to call, "Dream Come True".
Jamkaran; A dream for every lover of the Holy Imam. A light for one's darkest spots. Words cannot explain how much this mosque is yearned for, especially on the day for "Tawassul", the blessed day of Tuesday where people gather in thousands to this Holy place and recite the Dua'a.
After a lovely Iranian breakfast, we attended excellent classes by scholars, spiritual Salah in jama'a, lunch and a great class by Shaykh Mohammed Ali Ismail where he taught us how to perfect our wudhoo and tayammum. We were in awe just thinking of Jamkaran. How blessed servants we were, to get this blessing from our master, who is the goal of the believers, and the excellence of the worshippers. Words can never explain the yearning in our hearts. And with all our problems and emotions ready to explode to our Master. we leave Dar-uz-Zahra and are left restless on the way, standing up, sitting down, I could sense it, I was going to heaven!!
And by the Almighty, who has power over all thoughts and feelings, when I reached, I felt nothing less than what I had imagined. A place so perfect that even the-never-satisfied human being finds solace just being in its midst. We were to make this grand entrance to heaven through "Bab-ul-Ma'sooma", a gate of the many gates of heaven. Led by the great Shaykh Mohammed Ali Ismail, we walked through the door. And as soon as I stepped foot inside, I felt myself being elevated to a state I know I am not deserving of, I just couldn't believe it as everyone says, but as the wind, pushed by the Angels, was struck against my face. My heart was illuminated with peace and Noor of the Holy progeny blessed be their souls.
After we prayed our Salah, the doubt had turned into certainty. The long awaited Imam was amongst us. Hearts in awe of this magnificent being chosen by the Almighty Himself, and at the same time deeply in love with him. The heart is left in this sort of confusion, that cannot be described by the human tongue, and in that is where the heart will find its peace.
After an informative majlis, and an emotional masa'ib, the purpose of everyone's arrival began, Dua'a-at-Tawassul. This for me was an exceptional way for hearts to open up because everyone was just looking for an excuse to cry. And the smallest thing would make everyone weep, pouring out all their thoughts and emotions, and when people feel that way, and you mention the tragedies that befell their most beloved ones, you can just imagine what would happen. The voice of the reciter raises the arms of everyone else, lamenting, in close conversations with their Lord and the Imam.
Written by: By HaiderAli Habib of AFED (Mombasa)
Monday 17th July 2017, Day 1
As we arrived in Tehran at around 6:10 a.m, we passed through the VISA Security, collected our luggage and went straight out and felt the beautiful warm weather of Tehran. Despite the hot/warm weather, unlike in the UK we immediately got used to it.
From Tehran to The Holy Land of Qom, we went by coach and arrived in almost one hours time. In that hour, I could not imagine how my time went by so quickly (maybe because we were so tired from the flight!). I felt spiritually elevated as we gradually approached the city of Qom. We saw the beautiful blue dome of Jamkaran from far, and the verses from Dua Nudbah 'Mataa taraana wa naraak' were going through my head. Immediately I got emotional as our 12th Imam is hidden from us.
We then arrived our accommodation (Dar Al Zahra) and met other participants from different countries such as from Dubai, Kenya, Tanzania, Canada, and America.
Alhamdulillah, we quickly got to know them and immediately felt bonded. After having our breakfast, we rested for a while and got ready for the Opening Ceremony. Whilst we were getting ready, we met the Bab participants and got to know them too.
Arriving at the Opening Ceremony, we met Agha Amin, Shaykh Nadir Jaffer and a few other prominent personalities. They introduced us to the Bab/Madinah course. Shaykh Nadir's speech enabled me to deeply ponder over the main reason 'why am I here?' 'What am I trying to achieve after completing the course?' Almost the end of the discussion, Agha Amin recited the beautiful supplication of Dua Faraj and I then realised that one of the reasons why I am here, taking part in Bab/Madinah course is to 'get closer to Allah SWT and connect ourselves with our 12th Imam, Imam Mahdi a.s spiritually and mentally.'
After the Opening Ceremony, we straight went to the Shrine of Sayyida Fatima Ma'sooma (s.a). I was eagerly waiting to visit the Zarih since we arrived in Iran and as we got in the coach, Agha Amin told us about performing the Ziyarah of Sayyida Ma'sooma (s.a). What broke my heart was the fact that Agha Amin said as the grave of Sayyida Fatima-tuz Zahra s.a is unknown, performing the Ziyarah of Sayyida Fatima-tuz Zahra s.a in the Shrine equals the same reward. When we arrived near the Shrine, Shaykh Mohammed Ismail advised us all to constantly do the Dhikr of Allah SWT by simply doing the Tasbeeh of Sayyida Fatima-tuz Zahra (s.a). As in that way, we remain focused whilst entering the Shrine. Finally, with trembling feet, I entered the Zarih.
Thereafter, we had congregational prayers in the Haram and returned to our accommodation where we had some mini icebreakers and first-day reflections of the Ziyarah with our mentors.
Written by: By Ammar Habib of CoEJ (London)
We began the day at Fajr, some of the students went to the Haram to pray, as this has been an option available for us. In the morning, after breakfast, we had our classes.
In our first class we learnt about how to prepare for university life while incorporating our religion into it. We learnt how to plan our day to day life throughout university and about incorporating a little bit of everything to balance our life throughout university.
Today is the 15th of August 2014. After the fun-filled past few days which have gone past too quickly, the friends that we have made, the places we have visited and the foods we have eaten shall never be forgotten.