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Day 10 - Sunday 23rd April
As I sit here, concluding on our journey of 10 amazing days of spiritual upliftment, my heart is blanketed with deep sadness. Having been given a lifetime opportunity to spend 10 of my most memorable days, I can only say Alhumdulillah and give my utmost thanks to firstly Allah SWT and then to Bibi Fatima Masuma (as) and Imam Reza (as) for seeing me as worthy enough to invite me to their respective cities. The peace and tranquillity which I have felt throughout my journey here are so special and something I have not felt in a long time.
Along the way, I have met and heard about great personalities who have inspired and broadened my horizons to a different level. I am taking back with me a wealth of knowledge and a heart that is mending from the worldly and materialistic infatuations. I have learnt about struggles, patience, truth; the real truth and most importantly I have learnt about love. True love. That lies only in the worship of Allah (SWT). This, in turn, has shown me a new way to love, not only Allah but my family, friends and the world and appreciate everything I have in a new light. A new way to Love for the love and pleasure of Allah. To be completely selfless and to dive into the divine attributes of Allah (SWT) completely and full heartedly.
We started this morning with an early visit to the Holy Haram of Imam Reza (as) where Alhumdulillah I got the opportunity to touch and kiss the Shrine. Although there so many people today due to the Wafat of the 7th Holy Imam, I was able to sit in a proximity of the shrine and admire the glory that shines from the shrine. We finished the morning with Fajr Namaaz and decided to have some rest before breakfast. After that, we had a closing ceremony with all the participants where we each reflected on our personal journey and what we will be taking back with us. We then proceeded to pray the farewell Ziyarat of Imam Reza (as).
Throughout the journey, the strangers we started with have now become life long friends. As each couple departed, the end that seemed so far away was now a sad reality. As they say; all good things come to an end. I will be taking back with me a lifetime of memories and Inshallah I pray to Allah that all the couples continue to have a blessed life together filled with spirituality and true happiness. Mohammed and I then ended our day with shopping for gifts to take back for our loved ones back home. We then headed for the train station to head to Tehran before making our journey back to London.
I would sincerely like to thank The World Federation of KSIMC. They have gone above and beyond our expectations and I can not fault the journey at all. My heartfelt appreciation goes to Shaykh Nadir and Br. Amin for being so open and patiently answering our questions with such honesty. A personal thank you to all the speakers and lecturers who took the time out from their busy schedules to teach us lessons that are so relevant for us in the age we are living in. May Allah (swt) continue to give them the strength and ability to organise life-changing programmes like this.
Lastly, I have been inspired in ways that I never expected. Living in western society, we undergo daily struggles to keep our faith and Iman steadfast. However, having spent my time here and with all the knowledge and precious advice, I have acquired I feel I can go back with confidence in practising what I have learnt, not only as a Muslim woman but as a daughter, a wife and a mother. Inshallah, I pray to Allah (swt) I can carry on not only months from now but until my last breath.
Written by: Shaista Lakha
Day 9 - Saturday 22nd April
We start day 9 with a light, healthy breakfast anticipating the wealth of knowledge that the day has in store for us. If the last 10 days are anything to go by, we had an extremely thought provoking and spiritual awakening day ahead.
Having been to the haram of Imam Reza (as) for the last 2 days and experiencing the immense spiritual aura, first hand, the morning of Day 10 starts with the haram tour and museum visit. It soon dawns quite how vast the area is. We approach a cage full of beautiful birds.
This is the humble abode of the birds of Imam Reza (as)’s shrine, a large organisation with a team of administrators (the birds) who can answer the more simple wishes and desires. I never thought being in such close proximity to a cage would inhibit such a feeling of serenity.
We visit the graves of Shaykh Tabarasi, and we are told the story of his incredible journey to complete tafseer of the Quran.
Like most of the preceding days, the power of the Almighty is at the forefront of this story that shows you that the Lord surely works in mysterious ways.
Upon exiting, Shaykh Nadir shares some wisdom that still echoes in my mind. He conveys that true Marifat of the Lord doesn't just come from the tongue. It is a combination of the tongue and what you say, your actions, your brain and also your heart.
We also visited the grave of Shaykh Hur Ameli. There we came across an Urdu speaking Sheikh who was both passionate and enthusiastic to share a few words with us before Zohr. Hearing his eloquent presentation and kindness echoed the way we had been treated throughout the duration of our journey.
Following Zohr, we were invited to have Nyaz on behalf of the shrine of Imam Reza (as), an opportunity that is only available once a year and where some zawaar plead for even a grain of rice. We had the most succulent Lamb Shank and rice which was presented and gifted to us with nothing but love and generosity. It was amazing to see that hundreds of people enjoy this dish every single day of the year which highlights the magnitude of just how many people are fed.
Following dinner, the evening is spent in the haram of Imam Reza (as) where we spend the night. The spiritual aura of the Haram is not to be underestimated. The proximity to the shrine of Imam Reza breaks even the strongest of men into tears. Staying into the early hours, the rush starts to subside, and although it is still a struggle to reach the shrine given the volumes of people, we manage to reach the shrine, clinging onto it and pleading for assistance with our deepest of desires.
Being so close to the end of this life changing journey and given everything we have learnt, we realise that this isn't about leaving a close loved one behind. This journey is about taking a loved one with us every single day, in our hearts, minds and bodies.
Written by: Mohammed Lakha
Day 8 - Friday 21st April
We are still overwhelmed with the magnificence of Mashhad, and for today we had a special treat - We were to visit Neshabur!
Our first stop was Qadamgah. This is a well known area where 8th imam travelled to on his way to Mashhad & when people found out he was coming they joined him in his travel and they arrived at a dessert area the people said there is no water and
Imam said to move this rock, and a stream appeared which till this day irrigates the whole area making the entire landscape fertile and green.
We were lucky enough to pray Friday prayer there.
This is a testament to the planning and organisation that was put into place by Shaykh Nadir and his team from the world federation.
We stopped to pay our respects at three other ziarats one of which was Bibi Shatita (as) where we learned the story of how we should never judge someone based on their actions because we don't know what their intentions are.
The governor did not count her one coin and a small piece of cloth in his tally of the khums collection for the area, after the governor gave Imam Kadhim the Khums, he said he forgot some, and he asked about the coin and cloth from this lady.
The piety of her khums was important to Imam Kadhim as he instructed people to bury him with the cloth.
These are lessons for all of us, and we need to know these stories as we are on a journey of self-purification
Later after a delicious Iranian style lunch, we were given an opportunity to do some shopping for the finest firoza that come from Neshabur.
Later that evening we stopped at the shrine of the companion of Imam Raza - Aba Salt and prayed Maghreb there.
It was an insightful day, and many who come to Mashhad don't even know about Neshabur, but we had the opportunity to visit this place.
We had a wonderful day and prayed we would visit again very soon Inshallah.
Written by: Sukaina Kazmi
Day 7 - Thursday 20th April
In the name of Allah the all merciful, the all compassionate
The wisdom and knowledge acquired in this short course have taught me that if you take the ME and make it WE you will succeed.
Important to remember is that WE must include Imam Mahdi (a.s) and WE must do everything for the sake of ALLAH (swt).
We experienced an emotional night at the Holy Shrine of our 8th Imam to pay our respects and to thank the Holy Imam for his invitation. We had a group ziyarat led by Shaykh Nadir and Brother Amin who enlightened us regarding the status of this great personality whose vicinity we were present in.
In the morning we had some free time whereby every couple went to the Haram on their own.
In the evening we had a session with Syed Muhammad Kazmi. The session was very informative, and he also came bearing gifts for us all!
In the evening we attended Dua Kumayl which was an excellent experience in such a blessed place. An experience all must feel, at least once in their lifetime!
Written by: Sayyid Zafar Kazmi
Day 6 - Wednesday 19th April
Fajr prayers followed by farewell ziyarat marked the beginning of the day! It was unbelievable how 5 days just went by, and it was now time to leave our dear mother, Hazrat Masumeh.
The only thing that kept us strong was knowing that we would be heading to her brother in Mashhad.
After the final packing, we were all set to leave for Tehran at 11am. We headed straight towards the Shrine of Imam Khomeini; the founder of the Islamic Revolution. After listening to stories from his life, one cannot help but feel ashamed to have done nothing for Islam compared to what this great man did. He was indeed a manifestation of Allah's beautiful attributes.
Then came the famous Behesht-e-Zahra. The atmosphere around the graves of the Shohada was indescribable. The peace and serenity was like none other. Their sacrifices are the reason we are now blessed to practice Islam and allowed to visit the Holy personalities without any fear. This is a place of renewing allegiance to our living Imam and promising him that we too are ready.
A quick visit to Shah Abdul Azim al- Hasani was next on the schedule after which we headed to the airport for our flight to Mashhad.
Our first group ziyarat experience at midnight was surreal. Emotions were overflowing as everyone talked and connected to the Imam, begging and asking for the quick reappearance of our Awaited Saviour.
It was a long and exhausting day, but the first glance at the majestic golden dome of Imam al-Ridha made it all worth it!
Written by Laila Sheriff
Day 5 - Tuesday 18th April
Today we learnt about the science of hadith from Sheikh Tahir Ridha. The topic of hadith is not as simple as many of us think. Many factors are taken into consideration before a hadith is deemed to be authentic, and scholars spend years going through the thousands of ahadith that are currently available to us.
We then went to meet Ayatullah Mahdi Hadawi Tehrani who is a very accomplished scholar. He started off by studying electrical engineering in Tehran before deciding to study Islam in Qom. He has established many Islamic centres across the globe and regularly attends and speaks at various conferences ranging from inter-faith dialogues to human rights.
In the evening we had a very enlightening discussion with Sister Naajiya regarding our roles during the occultation of the Imam of our time. Many practical points were brought up that we are all going to try and implement in our daily lives.
We then left for Masjid Jamkaran, and the experience was amazing. The spiritual environment was very uplifting, and it felt surreal. Words cannot do justice to describe the way we all felt when Dua Tawassul started. The recitation was so beautiful and had many people in tears.
An inspiring day indeed!
Written by: Jehangir Sheriff
Day 4 - Monday 17th April
Day 4 started with a talk on Marifat al- Insaan by Shaykh Muhammad Khalfan.
He explained very beautifully the concept of Allah's names and their meanings and how they are relatable to us humans.
The next talk by Shaykh. Tahir Ridha Jaffer was on the philosophy of marriage in light of Quran and Hadith.
Interesting questions like why marriage?, duties and roles/responsibilities, potential problems in marriage and how to handle them and a few aspects of divorce were among the concepts discussed.
Interesting ideas were also brought up and all participants equally benefitted.
Salah followed by lunch at Dar ul Zahra was next in the schedule where we enjoyed tasty home made Pilau.
After that, a tour of the Haram was the following part of the day's timetable.
Sister Sajida Daya took the ladies around while Sayyid Hidayat took the gens around.
We learnt a lot about the different highly spiritual and knowledgeable scholars buried there like Ayatullah Bahjat, Ayatullah Gulpaygani, Shaheed Mutahhari and others.
We felt ashamed as we heard stories about their lives, knowing that we have not done anything in comparison to them, for Islam and the path of the Ahlulbayt. We pray Allah gives us the tawfiq to follow in the path of these great scholars.
After that, we rested a little, and a few of us headed to Ansariyan publishers bookshop where we got some educational insight and were able to purchase books recommended by some of our lecturers.
After Maghrib, we headed to Alawi park which was the highlight of the evening. The day ended with a pleasant bonding time over self-grilled chicken (the men did some cooking), and lots of ideas and experiences were shared over Ice cream and tea :)
Written by Halima Lalji
Day 3 - Sunday 16th April
Our morning began with Shaykh Nadir's lecture on spiritual awakening to visiting the Library of Ayatullah Marashi Najafi.
Shaykh Nadir's point on dying before death and the prerequisite that we need first to empty ourselves and removing I ME from our nafs to doing actions with ikhlaas and then relating that to the life of Ayatullah Marashi.
Ayatullah Marashi's library contains 42,000 books! He paid for them by praying Namaaz and fasting on behalf of the departed. He preferred to buy books that satisfy his hunger when faced with the dilemma.
After that, we headed to the haram for Salah and the afternoon was free for shopping. Some of us went to get cupping done while others took advantage of the free time by catching up on lost sleep.
Written by Naasirhussein Muhammad
Day 2 - Saturday 15th April
The day began with Salaat al-Fajr at the Haram and breakfast after which we all headed for class.
Our first lesson was on 'Ikraam: the pillar of relationship' by Sister Razia Najafi.
This was an interesting topic to discuss, and I enjoyed Sister Razia Najafi's way of explaining the concept of Ikraam in relationships in the light of the Holy Quran and hadith using examples from our daily lives.
The next most awaited class was taken by Shaykh Nadit Jaffer on 'Prophetic medicine'. This was also very interesting and new to me.
It was good to know the comparison of this topic with the latest medical technology. We all left this class with deep thoughts and a sincere appreciation for our the beautiful religion we follow.
In the evening we visited the house of Imam Khomeini which is in close proximity to the haram of Bibi Masuma (SA). In short, I would say, a very simple house of a very big personality.
We then headed towards Mount Khidr, where we visited the monument of the 14 unknown Shuhadah after which Shaykh Nadir gave a brief speech on the importance of the place and the Status of Shahadat in the light of Quran and hadith. After a few moments of meditation on life and death, we hiked up the mountain while enjoying the sunset.
The day ended with having Barbeque outside at a luxurious restaurant, and it was amazing as we bonded and laughed with each other. It was great as I enjoyed grilling the BBQ and serving my fellow Zawwar.
We are so lucky to have been given a chance to attend this retreat and feel that every couple should come to experience this beautiful feeling.
Written by Syeda Umme Zehra Rizvi
Day 1 - Friday 14th April
Today marked the official beginning of the Couples Retreat. It started off with an enlightening class by Shaykh Khalfan on 'Ma'arifat of Allah'. It was a very informative and interactive session, to understand more about Allah (swt) through his attributes. Shaykh Khalfan managed to explain the complicated concepts very easily using examples from our daily lives.
This session gave me both physical and spiritual energy. Alhamdulillah, we learnt a lot in this class and Inshallah it will help us reform ourselves and our Ibadat as individuals and couples.
We were also blessed to visit Ayatullah Vahid Khorasani at his residence. This was a special meeting which had a deep impact on me as I witnessed the simplicity and humility of this great scholar. He gave us a few pieces of advice and ahadith related to the greatness of the Ziyarah of Imam Ridha in the month of Rajab. We are blessed to have this opportunity in this Month, Alhamdulillah!
After Salaah al Jumu'ah at the Mosque; Musalla of Quds and tasty biryani we headed to Bayt ul- Noor and 40 Akhtaran (stars) with Sayyid Shabbar who explained the status and life of Hazrat Masuma. He also mentioned that we were chosen by her to come and visit her and this was the highlight of his talk.
The day ended with a fantastic welcome dinner at an Italian restaurant with a casual discussion and bonding with the other couples.
Many thanks to Shaykh Nadir and his team for this excellent start to the retreat!
Written by Syed Hassan M Naqvi