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A Travelogue by Sister Amina Shabar, (Bosnia and Herzegovina) on Madinah and Bab al-Ilm 2014 course.
“You Will Want to Rewind and Do It All Over Again!”
It’s so difficult to sum up an experience that had such a great impact on me in just a few sentences. If someone had told me that my perspective on life, the way I think, the things I do, the way I live will all drastically change after these three weeks, I would not believe them. Some, on the other hand, had that expectation that made them want to attend. I decided the course would be good for me to gain some knowledge about my faith and perform Ziyarat, not thinking that any change in my life was needed, probably because of my outlook on life. But here I am today, proven wrong, and (hopefully) one step closer to achieving my real goal, which is closeness to Allah (swt).
What I am writing is mainly directed to all the people who have never been to Iran, and are maybe considering attending this course. Well, here are some of the reasons why you should definitely embrace any opportunity that will lead you to this beautiful place.
Firstly, in this trip I feel like I have restored my connection to the Ahlulbayt (as). At home, it might be quite difficult at times, especially if you are living in a westernised society, to have that connection, or to even make spiritual progress, because of all the distractions that take our minds off things that are of real importance. Without realising it, we sometimes tend to follow the example of the crowd. In this experience, however, for me, it all became clear again.
The atmosphere itself is a big part of it all: you see people on the streets mentioning God's name in the majority of their conversations; women are all observing Hijab; people are reaching out to Bibi Masumah (as) in her Haram in Qum, with tears in their eyes, reciting Salawat by the holy shrine; thousands of people rushing to pray Namaz at the Haram of Imam Ar-Ridha (as); families having picnics by Masjid Jamkaran on Tuesday nights, awaiting for the recitation of Du'a Tawassul to start, knowing that Imam Zaman (afs) is in their presence. Witnessing all this made my heart grow fonder of my religion, and I started discovering the reasoning behind my belief. Also, making a connection with Bibi Masumah (as), Imam Ridha (as) and the Imam of our time (afs) is an experience of its own. No words can explain it, but the closest I can get to describing it, is the feeling of being reborn. Which is why anyone who hasn’t participated in this journey should experience it themselves.
Before I left for this trip, I had this fear of how I would get along with the participants and the mentors. You will be surprised how close you get with these fellow sisters that you spend a total of three weeks with. From the first awkward ice-breaker session that you will all look back on and laugh, to gathering in each other’s rooms and chit chatting till late at night, until our mentors stepped in and said it's way past our bedtime, and that we won't be able to wake up for class the next morning. The bond that you will make with these participants is a strong one, because you all are there for a similar reason: to improve and better oneself. I had intellectual conversations with them, and we discussed topics that I personally cannot discuss with my friends back at home. I poured my heart out to people I knew for such a short while, but it felt like we knew each other for ages. You will build each other up. You will learn from each other. Some of them will inspire you. You will laugh together. You will cry together. And when it all comes to an end, you will want to rewind and do it all over again. And it's definitely worth it! Any difficulty you may face while getting there or during your stay is all worth it because you will have that amazing experience that may give you strength to carry on trying your best to live the right way.
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