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22 April 2024 / 13. Shawal 1445

Girls’ Daily Blog

Monday 26th August, 2013

So here comes the report of one of the most awaited days of the trip!

Our first ziyarat to the holy shrine of Imam Ridha (as). We had our breakfast and geared up to go to the haram and say our salaams to the holy personality. Prior to that, Sister Najiya enlightened us on the etiquettes of ziyarah, and mentioned that the Imam yearns to see the zawwar who have left their homes and comfort zones, just so that they can meet him.

As the group walked to the haram, everyone was just focused and eager to meet Imam Ridha (as) and we all kept on doing dhikr of the tasbihaat. The feeling that we experienced was just unique, one that cannot be easily put into words, but it was just beautiful knowing that we were finally around Imam Ridha (as) and we felt the connection between him and us.

The atmosphere of the whole thing was just extraordinary! Sister Najiya led the izne dukhool with meaning, followed by our mentor sister Jerrmein who recited the ziyarat.

After spending quite a good amount of time at the haram, we went for a delicious lunch at a restaurant, and had the famous jujeh and chelu kebab! In the evening, we had a lecture with Sister Najiya who shed some light on the life of Imam Ridha (as). She also shared some really touching and inspiring experiences of how Imam Ridha (as) comes to the help of one who calls unto him.

Next, we went to the haram for Salatul Jama’ah for Maghrib and Isha prayers. After prayers, we gathered up for a really exciting one and a half hour tour around the haram, with Shaykh Kumayl as our guide. He explained us details regarding the famous spots within the haram.  Indeed, it was very informative as well as enjoyable.

We all had a great time exploring the various places in the haram, and running on our toes full time to keep up with Shaykh Kumayl. It was fascinating knowing that there existed a hotel, a hospital, a university, two libraries, a parking lot, and two museums within the haram! Interesting! Moreover, Shaykh also briefed us on the various courtyards (sehen) within the haram and took us to the graves of the various great scholars who are buried in the haram, such as Shaykh Hur Amili, Shaykh Tabarsi, and Shaykh Bahai. He gave us some details of the lives of these scholars, and indeed they were highly respected and great personalities. Towards the end, we all sat around at the garden in the haram and Shaykh Kumayl had a short talk with us about the life of Imam Ridha (as), which again was very informative and special, because all of us yearned to learn more about him.

All of us were really exhausted after the tour, since we had a long walk around the massive haram. But we must say, it really was amazing exploring around! We had a group picture clicked in the Sehen Inqilaab, where we could get the best view of the golden dome! Next, we all headed towards the hotel, and bunked into the mentors room for an exciting dinner (fries, and BBQ chicken).

Alhamdulillah for such an awesome day one in Mashhad! Indeed, it was a day worthily spent, and Inshallah we make the most of our remaining time here, so that we have a lot of experiences and precious moments to take back and share with our family and friends!

Written by: Siddika Dossa of Dar es Salaam Jamaat and Sajida Dhalla of Dar es Salaam Jamaat.

Sunday 25th August, 2013
All the suitcases ready at the hallway, ready to bid farewell to Jamiatuz Zahra at 5:15am. It was very emotional to say goodbye to the dorms, as Jamiatuz Zahra felt like home.
The bus was ready to take us to the shrine of Imam Khumayni in Tehran. We paid our respects to the prominent figure of the Islamic Revolution of Iran. To be in the presence of such an amazing figure who had such an intense impact on the history of Iran was overwhelming.
Our bus took a turn to 'Behishte Zahra', the ‘paradise of Lady Fatema Zahra (s)’. Here we paid tribute to all the martyrs that sacrificed their lives for Islam. One of the youngest martyrs aged 13 really stood out, by the name of Shaheed Fahmide. This martyr was so special that Imam Khumayni said about him 'He is our leader'. This statement made all of us feel inspired.
Salat al-Zohrain was performed at the shrine of a very great man who was the descendant of Imam Hassan and lived during the times of the holy 7th, 8th, 9th and 10th Imams. The name of this knowledgeable personality was Shah Abdul Adhim, who was considered a "source of reference" by the Shias.
Overall, the day was very emotional but what magnified the emotion was our visit to the Shah's torture chamber, SAVAK Prison. We were shown a short clip of what took place in the prison. This was too much for some of the participants who couldn't bare to go in and see the wax models inside the prison of the tortures taking place. The circular structure of the building was inspired by the Germans so that noise of the inmates would not reach the surrounding areas. They succeeded in this respect as their neighbourhood was never aware of the fact that there was a torture chamber a few steps away.  Amongst the inmates at one time were Sayyid Ali Khamenai and Ayatullah Dastaghaib Shirazi.
Some of the props used in order to torture inmates were 'Apollo' and hot chair. The methods of torture were undressing the inmates and forcing them to sit on the hot chair, blindfolding the inmates and whipping their feet until they could no longer walk properly. This was so that the prisoners could not escape. Our tour guide was an ex-inmate who suffered these ordeals. He stood proud with a smile on his face as if to say that he would go through these tortures again and again if it meant Islam would be saved. He finished his tour with this beautiful statement:
'The black colour of your hijab (chador) is more powerful and means more than the red colour of the martyrs blood.'

Written by Abeer Canani of Dubai Jamaat and Arrouge Naqvi (Mentor) of Watford.

Saturday 24th August, 2013

We wake up today both delighted and disconsolate. Delighted as we will soon be embarking on to the next phase of our trip, disconsolate as we will at the same time be leaving the place we have grown to love and call home in the past ten days.

During class we clarified all our last minute questions and said our Ma'a Salama's to all the wonderfully amazing teachers we've had, and straight away got on the bus to visit Ayatollah Mahdi Hadavi Tehrani. The Ayatollah (may Allah grant him long life) spoke to us at length in English about our duties as Shi'a youth. He said that we should not present ourselves with different personalities while with different groups of people and that our words and demeanour should reflect the etiquettes and teachings of Islam. He also mentioned that we should refrain from haram and not think that Islam prevents us from enjoying our life; that although it may seem as though Islam makes life hard, once we understand its purpose we realise that it is actually quite easy. It was an extremely interesting lecture and we were all inspired by it.

We rushed back to the Khabgah (dorms) where the Maader (dorm in-charge) was waiting for us with our lunch and heartfelt words of her love and prayers for us as she would be leaving for home soon and we wouldn't be seeing her before we leave tomorrow.

After lunch half of us went for our last swimming and sports session while the other half prepared for our departure on the morrow.

With heavy hearts we got on the bus to go and pay our last respects to our Holy Lady, Bibi Fatema Masuma, who has looked after us and taken care of us since the day we arrived. We prayed our Jamaat Maghrib and Isha and then with tears running down our faces bid our Wida.

Written by Leila Mwaka from Mombasa, and Shamim Meghji of Dubai.

Friday 23rd August, 2013

After having a late night the day before we were all very excited to wake up for Fajr, pray and head towards the bus to go to Mount Khizr. It was around 6am when we reached there and we were able to face the scene which was spiritually uplifting: to see the creation of Allah (SWT). This just makes you want to say ‘Subhanallah’.

Before making our way up the mountain we had a short, inspiring talk by Shaykh Razi. Before we knew it we were all climbing the mountain and were able to spot the beautiful, bright sunrise in the background of the haram of Hazrat Masuma (sa) and the Masjid of Jamkaran. As we climbed up we were given cold water which really boosted our energy and allowed us to reach the top of the mountain. As it was a Friday, Shaykh Kumail recited Dua-e Nudbah with the scenery of the mountain just nearby.

When the Dua finished it was about 8am, we were able to enjoy our breakfast of nutella, cereals and milk. And then we got a chance to visit the masjid and pray namaz. A while later we made our way down and cherished the last moment of the amazingly beautiful scenery.

We got on the bus, and headed to class as usual. After our classes, we went to the haram for Jum’ah prayers. We then reached the Jamia at 3pm and had lunch straight after. For lunch we enjoyed our meal of biryani. After lunch, most of us had decided to sleep for a while before our debate session whilst the others started packing for our trip to Tehran.

Our debate was on the motion ‘social interaction online, the broken hijab of the 21st century?’ which was one that all of us were able to relate to and it was widely discussed between us. At the end of the debate, we were able to share our own personal opinion regarding the topic given. The debating session came to an end we were all getting prepared to recite namaz. Straight after we had our dinner which was chicken and chips.

After a few hours of rest, we were able to discuss our day with our mentors by reflecting on everything we had done throughout.

This course has been life-changing for us as we were able to see things and hear stories which were spiritually uplifting. It’s so upsetting to know that we have only one more day in Qum remaining and tomorrow we have the chance of going to the haram of Hazrat Masuma (sa) for the last time. However, on the other hand we are all very much excited that we are going to be going to the city of Mashhad and visiting our beloved Imam Ridha (as).

Written by Maliha Hosain from London and Sumaiya Ladak from Mombasa Jamaat.

Wednesday 21st August, 2013

Following an incredibly eventful Tuesday, our day today was a more relaxing one. Despite the fact that most of us managed to sleep right through our alarms, we were up and ready within a record breaking 10 minutes at 4am as we eagerly awaited the arrival of the bus. We were full of excitement at the prospect of praying Fajr jamaat namaz at the Haram again. The atmosphere was as spiritual as always, and we truly felt connected to our great lady (s).

After returning back at 6.30am we just about had enough time to sleep for a couple of hours and restore our energy before our inspiring and mentally stimulating lectures.

Lunch was a delightful combination of lentils and egg-plant with a side of chips and rice. The food served us well as the more energetic of us went to play sports. Here we were invited by the inhabitants of the Jamiah to join in a strenuous game of Tug Of War, in which we are proud to say that the Madinah and Bab participants of 2013 were crowned champions!

Others decided to go for a swim, relax in the jacuzzi or cleanse their pores in the steam room. Unfortunately, we were quite rushed for time so at 5.30pm we had to race back to the dorms for dinner of pizza and chips. We then had a chance to reflect on our day and discuss issues of importance to us, like the qualities of a Mu'min.

We are thankful that our experience today has been just as beneficial as that of previous days, and we cannot wait to see what the coming days have in store for us.

Written by Zainab Sajan from Birmingham Jamaat and Saarah Kaba  from Hyderi Jamaat

Tuesday 20th August, 2013

It has been one week that we are away from home and we continue our journey towards increasing our knowledge and spirituality. We started our day with namaz-e-shab and Salaatul Fajr in the haram of Bibi Masooma (sa). It was a really nice experience as it was quiet and peaceful and for most of us it was the first time that we recited Salaatul Fajr in the haram. We were all really excited as it was the “D day” - the day for visiting Masjid-e-Jamkaraan.
We started our classes at 10am, Sister Najiya discussed about importance of clothing in Islam (proper Hijab) and discussed how we youth sometimes do hijab incorrectly. The second lecture was by Shaykh Razi who spiritually prepared us for our visit to Jamkaraan by giving us a short introduction about the ma’rifat of Imam-e-Zamana (aj). Later we had an interactive session with Shaykh Aqib Jaffrey who gave us some proofs on the existence of God and prepared us to face any argument that may be posed against this.
We had lunch and went for our last lecture with Shaykh Khalfan who almost concluded his topic of “secrets of worship” where he spoke about the part where we wash our face during wudhu. We then had a Q & A session with him at the Imam Sajjad Research Centre where he briefed us on how the centre works and described some researches taking place and the future publications. We then spent an hour on “Home Management” from an Islamic perspective; it was a really practical session which was very informative.
Finally it was the time to visit Masjid-e-Jamkaraan. As we gazed at the beautiful dome… the feeling was sooo amazing that it’s difficult to put into words. Shaykh Razi led us in reciting a pledge to our Imam and we felt that he was really very close to us, we could feel him around but couldn’t see him due to our sinful eyes. We prayed Maghrib and Isha with the jamaat after which we did the amaal of Masjid-e-Jamkaraan; we had dinner and recited Dua-e-Tawassul which was the best part of the day and we felt like our Imam was listening to us. We returned back home “half-dead” and all of us deserved a beauty sleep!

Written by Siddika Dewji of Dar-es-salaam Jamaat, and Amreen Fatima Surani of Stanmore Jamaat 

Monday 19th August, 2013

We were awoken today at 5am to find ourselves running late! We hurried to get ready and then got settled in our bus. Off we were to see the great city of Tehran, but we ended up stuck in traffic for the next excruciatingly long 4 hours!

We visited Ayatullah Khumayni’s house which was attached to the hussainiyyah where we offered our Zohrain namaz. His house reminded me of what I thought of the old days in Medina due to its simplicity and of how Imam Ali’s house had a door that opened on to Masjid-un-Nabawi.

We then headed to the park for ‘Pet Puja’ after which we went to a museum. We learned of the hardship and struggles the people went through in order defend themselves and Islam during the revolution. This inspired us to appreciate our religion all that much more.

Our last stop and final destination for the day was Burj al-Milad (the tallest tower in Iran) where we lost our breath in the breeze and the breath-taking view. It left us gob-smacked to realise just how small and insignificant we are, and yet we still remain so proud. In our last prayers of the day we prayed to Allah to leave us humble and to fill our hearts with humility.

At last we returned home exhausted and our hearts filled with knowledge and nur. Inshallah I pray to Allah to always keep them that way – Ameen.

Written by: Nargis Khatoon and Aaliyah Alibhai from Dubai Jamaat

Sunday 18th August, 2013

Today we had an interesting session with our mentor Ru’ya with regards to jamaat namaz. Most of us had our doubts cleared.

An interesting part of the day was our Aqaid class whereby our teacher Sayyid Ali Aqib Jaffer left us with a thought provoking argument to prove the existence of God using our sense of logic. We are eager to find the answer in our next class!

After the last lecture, we had a session of reflections with our mentors, who took suggestions and feedback from us regarding how the course has been for the past four days. Alhamdulillah, everything has been really organised and we are enjoying.

The day continued with some other visitations in the evening. We went to Imam Khumayni’s old house in Qum, and then to Bayt al-Noor and then to Chehel Akhtaran (40 stars). Shaykh Kumail Rajani enlightened us with the history and extra information we needed to know on each of these locations. We thank God to get such an opportunity to visit the houses and graves of such personalities! Just the feeling we experienced of being in a place where they have worshipped was unique.

After this, we went to the haram for prayers and did ziyarat and some supplication for a while. It was peaceful. And finally, when we got back to the khabgah (dorms),we had a delicious dinner, that is Biryani and the most awaited time of the night was the surprise birthday party for our mentor, Sister Ru’ya. The day ended with a memorable celebration of her birthday, that we all enjoyed preparing for! Indeed, we call it a day well spent!

Written by Alina M Murji and Zahida Fazal of Dar es Salaam Jamaat.

Saturday 17th August, 2013

Today, being our 4th day in the course, we had finally become extremely comfortable with the people around us and our surrounding environment. It was like we had already started to soak up some of the greatness of the holy city we were in.

The day began with the buzzing of 25 girls trying to get ready and eat breakfast in time to make it to class before any of the teachers arrived. After what seemed like an impossible mission, we got to the ‘amoozeshghah’ or learning centre (as you can tell, we’ve picked up some Farsi words!).

We then had the most inspiring classes by Sr. Salma Khalfan, Sr. Najiah Bhimji, and Shaykh Safder Razi. Immediately after the classes were over we rushed to the Jaamiah's masjid to pray Zohrain Namaz. We were overcome with amazement at the beauty of everyone praying together side by side.

We then had a very delicious lunch ready for us on the table by the lovely hosts. Guess what happened next … SWIMMING!! It wasn’t any ordinary swimming session, there was a Jacuzzi and a sauna as well.

The bus then dropped us to Ansariyan bookstore where we were literally surrounded by knowledge! We then visited Ayatullah Marashi Najafi’s grave which was inside his library, just listening to the little that Sh. Kumail told us about the Ayatullah,  we felt honoured to be in the presence of such a magnanimous personality.

We then stopped by a bazaar and glanced at the beautiful works of art. Whilst there, we heard the adhan and we hastened to the nearest masjid. Once again Sheikh Kumail surprised us with a traditional hearty dinner. That was the end to another spiritually uplifting and enlightening day.
Written by : Aqeela Virjee from Dubai Jamaat

Friday 16th August, 2013

Today was the third day in Qum and was equally as exciting and educating as the first two days. As time passes, our bonds become stronger and the urge to strive toward bettering ourselves also increases. Making new friends and knowing more about Islam and realising the depth there is to this wonderful religion has been a wonderful experience so far.

Our day started with Jamaat Namaz in the masjid which is inside the Jamia which was then followed by Dua-e-Nudba and ziyarat of Imam-e-Zamana which was the most perfect and beautiful morning to our first Friday at the Jamia.

We then went to the shrine of Bibi Masuma (sa) and performed our Jumma prayers there which made our hearts feel close to the Imam of our time and sense His presence around us.

Wudhu increases memory and life span if one is in its constant state. This is one of the excellent points made by Shaykh Khalfan during the afternoon lectures. In one of the lectures, some general aspects of our lives were covered. We learnt that the spice “Ajinimoto” which is known as Chinese salt contains the bones of a pig and this shocked us because this is a common spice used all around the world including our communities.

Before our day ended, we went to the house of a scholar, Sayyida Zainab, for a question and answer session where she enlightened us on the topic of Karamat. We then ended our day with our first meal at a fast food restaurant which was a delicious change that we all enjoyed.

In conclusion, our first Friday was a productive, spiritual and fun-filled day. We pray for the reappearance of our present Imam and pray that all the youth will InshaAllah get this lovely opportunity and be invited by the Bibi herself to come and study at the Jamia in order to increase awareness, spiritual wisdom and ultimately get closer to Allah (swt).

Written by : Huma Fatima from Kampala Jamaat and Khadijah Muweye from BILAL, Mombasa, Kenya

Thursday 15th August, 2013

Today, we woke up to another blessed day. After breakfast we had three inspiring classes. The first one was by Sister Salma who enlightened us about Bibi Masuma e Qum. Next we had another amazing talk by Sister Najiya who spoke about Mahdawiyat. The final lecture was conducted by Sheikh Safdar Razi who inspired us by talking about the journey of the soul. After all the classes, we left the university and went to pray jamaat namaaz. We then went to eat lunch, where we were served irani food  (Chillo kabaab and Rice). On the whole we loved all of them, and enhanced our spirituality.

The Madinah girls had another class by Sheikh Khalfan, who spoke about the secrets of worship while the Bab girls were given an opportunity to rest, socialize and make new friends. Later on, we gathered in a hall and introduced ourselves we played ice breakers and discussed expectations of one another.  The environment was full of happiness and laughter.

After dinner we left for the haram, as it was Thursday we were blessed to listen to Dua e Kumayl, although the commentary was in Farsi, emotions were flowing out. After dua kumayl we went to the Zarih, there are no words to describe the beautiful experience but you could feel the connection between us and this holy personality, who was given the high status by the ahlulbayt.
Overall, it was an amazing day and we look forward to the rest of the trip.

Written by : Zainab Jaffer  from Dubai Jamaat and Alina Ramji from Stanmore Jamaat

Wednesday 14th August, 2013

After a tiring but exciting journey, we finally landed in Tehran on the morning of 14th August. Another long bus journey later, we were in Qum al Muqaddasah, and we caught our first glimpse of the dome of Bibi Fatema Masuma (as). It immediately captivated our hearts, and we could hardly wait for our visit to the shrine later. Although slightly nervous, we were looking forward to seeing the jami’ah and meeting the rest of the girls. We weren’t disappointed. A beautiful large compound met our sight as we entered the hawzah, and there was an immediately sisterly bonding between all the girls. The warm welcome and lovely Iranian breakfast made it feel like a home away from home. The girls were from a variety of places: Dubai, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and the UK.

After freshening up, we were taken to Dar-uz-Zahra for introductions and the opening ceremony. We had a very interactive session first, where we all got to know each other a bit better and were given our Iranian chadors. The speeches at the opening ceremony from the mentors and Sheikh Komail Rajani were both personal and inspiring, giving us an insight into the kind of experience we were going to have. We were fed not only physical but spiritual food too; the talks about the history of Bibi Fatema Masuma (as) and the significance of ziyarah made us appreciate and understand this Holy Lady more.

Finally it was time for ziyarah, and with pounding hearts we made the journey there. The advice from our mentors about the adab of ziyarah was playing through our heads as we walked towards the door.  We stood together and recited “idhn-e-dukhul”, a beautiful du’a asking permission from the holy personality to enter the haram. With tears glistening in our eyes, we entered the beautiful haram; its sight was enough to transport us to another world, to a personal and intimate conversation with our Mistress Bibi Fatema Masuma (as). May Allah accept all our hajaat made with the wasila of this amazing lady. Finally it was time to go back to the jami’ah, and it’s safe to say we all deserved a good night’s sleep after all the excitement of the day!

Written by : Sonabar Khimji from Nairobi Jamaat and Afifa Alihassan from Stanmore Jamaat

Tuesday 13th August, 2013

The third and final day of the mentor training course provided by The World Federation came sadly but surely as the mentors began their day with a reflection of thoughts to explore what each of us discovered about ourselves and how that aspect we discovered will help us develop our mentor-mentee relationship. This exercise of ‘self-reflection’ turned out to be very beneficial as it helped consolidate our thoughts and conclusions from the previous day so that we walk away with a take-home lesson and an aim to achieve.

It was amazing to see how we, both male and female mentors, realised how much we have learned about ourselves and the way we think, act, and react.  But it was more interesting to see that we all have experienced a change within us, a realisation of what our weaknesses are and where our strengths can be nurtured.  The exercises we have learned in this mentor course were indeed a mimic of Muhasabat Al Nafs (Accounting of the Self) where we each took out the mirror of reflection and analysed ourselves analytically and dived deeper within ourselves while we brushed away the veil of arrogance and vanity.  Instead, we opened our hearts and minds to discover and critique the essence of our way of thinking and our habits and tendencies.  While we appreciate the gifts of talent and uniqueness that Allah (SWT) has bestowed to each of us, we also recognise the areas where we need to polish and nourish within ourselves.

We further explored examples of how to strengthen the mentor team relationship so that we are harmonised and consistent in order to support our mentees most efficiently.  After playing a fun game of trying to articulate words to each other in order to demonstrate and strengthen our communication skills, we concluded the training with a run over the logistics and setup of the course, followed by a final reflecting session on the expectations which we set on Day 1 to compare whether or not we have achieved these expectations and removed these initial fears.
Praise be to Allah (SWT), it was a very rewarding moment to see that each and every one of us have met our expectations from this training course and furthermore removed the subtle fears that may have crossed our minds.

It dawned upon me that if a three-day course was enough to create this amount of change and positivity within a human being, then isn’t the generous months and years of our lives which Allah (SWT) bestowed us a good enough time for us to create more change and reform within ourselves as humans?

In this course, we have all learned and practiced new, smarter, and more efficient techniques and strategies of how to connect with our fellow mentees so that we could support them in the best manner morally and spiritually by Allah’s help during the course and also after the course.  We thank The World Federation staff in Qum for providing us excellent support and a brilliant team of trainers who carefully designed and organised an intense but rewarding programme which made us feel ready and developed by the end of this course and also on a personal level.  And we thank Allah the Almighty for granting us this valuable opportunity of learning and gaining knowledge through this unique means and we pray that He (SWT) completes our success in our mentoring experience as we look forward to receive the participants and serve the Zuwaar who have already started arriving today safe and sound, and more will arrive Inshallah tomorrow so that we kick off the program officially with an opening ceremony on Thursday, August 15th, 2013.

Written by: Jerrmein Abu Shahba from New Jersey, USA

Monday 12th August, 2013

Day two of the mentor training programme commenced at 8.15am with breakfast, and most importantly of all, delicious khoja-style tea. The first session was a reflection session led by Brother Yasin and Shaykh Abbas. This session focused on reflecting on the previous day and required us to share one new insight that we had learnt about ourselves and how this will affect our role as a mentor.

The second session was a debrief of the Myer Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) exercise that we carried out the previous day with Shaykh Komail. In today’s session, Shaykh Abbas carried out some extremely exciting and engaging exercises that help us to understand types that were different to our own and how although we may be a different type to our fellow mentors, we still have to work together as a harmonious team. I found the second exercise the most exciting. In this one, we were put into two groups according to how we prefer to take in information. One group was the sensing (S) type and one was the intuition (N) type. As a group, we were asked to create a poster that advertised the Madinah and Bab summer courses to our own type. The poster could only contain three words and had to be created in 10 minutes. It was interesting to see that the S group’s poster was detailed and concentrated on all the different aspects that the course would cover in the three weeks. The N group’s poster only concentrated on one aspect of the course and this was the spiritual journey before, during and after the course.

This was followed by the third session which was led by Brother Yasin and was about Adult Learning. In this session we learnt about the difference between respect and tolerance. We learnt that when dealing with someone, we should separate the person from the behaviour. This would change tolerance into respect as we would be concentrating on the person as a whole rather than judging them only based on a certain behaviour that they have shown. This session took us till Zohr Salaat time which was followed by lunch and some time to relax.

At 3pm, we all reconvened and the afternoon session started off by an enlightening lecture by Shaykh Mohamed Khalfan. Shaykh Khalfan talked about a topic that was very relevant to us at this stage of the mentor training programme. He talked to us about mentoring from an Islamic perspective. He gave us an example of a mentor-mentee relationship from the Qur’an. This was from the story of Prophet Yusuf when he was in the prison and he was mentoring the people that were there with him. Shaykh Khalfan then gave us 8 qualities of a good mentor, two of which were maximum participation in all parts of the course and severe self-consciousness. He concluded his talk with 8 strategies for mentors that can secure support and encouragement. One of these was to grab any opportunity for an increase in spirituality with both hands. So, for example, going to the shrines as often as possible and including the mentees in this with you.

The final session for the day concentrated on developing two skills that we require as mentors when talking to our mentees. The first was active listening and the second was questioning. Both of these were taught in the form of different role-plays where mentors and facilitators took it in turns to be in a role play where one was a mentor and one was a mentee. We were given lots of different scenarios, some very tough, all that were similar to something that had come up in previous years in the course and we had to then role play these scenarios with each other. I thought that this was a brilliant way developing these skills as we could all help each other in coming up with the best way to deal with certain situations.

This long and intense day came to an end at 8.10pm after which we recited Maghribain Salaat followed by time for everyone to relax and re-energise for the third and final day of training tomorrow.

Written by: Ali Mehdi Moti from Birmingham, UK

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

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