Rear Admiral Alex Burton, Commander United Kingdom Maritime Forces & Rear Admiral Surface Ships, accompanied by other Royal Navy personnel visited Al Mahdi Centre.
They said it was going to be fun. They said I was going to make new friends, they said that I would experience new things, and above all, they said that I would not want to leave. But that was all an understatement – they had no idea.
I started off my journey, standing at the airport with a frown on my face, still wondering what I was doing on a 3 week long summer course. Three weeks seemed like a long time, and I was already missing the comfort off my bed as the bus shook wildly on the rocky roads of Tehran. Not before long, we entered the university that we would be residing in for the next two weeks, and the first thing that hit me was the view. It was beautiful; the lush green trees hung over the courtyard like long fingers, and the hot summer sun shone down, lighting up the whole Jamiah with a sparkle. We were then introduced to the mentors. At first, I thought that the mentors would not have much to do. We were told that they were there to take care of us, to tell us off, and to make sure we didn’t get into any trouble. But what I came to realise throughout the trip was that their jobs were very complex. Aside from their duties, they took care of us like mothers, stayed awake with us till late like sisters, and made us laugh like we were best friends. Without them, the trip would not have been as successful as it was. As I nervously stepped into my room, I glanced at the five empty beds in my dorm, and wondered what sort of people I would be meeting the next day. Maybe this trip wasn’t going to be so bad after all.
They say that time flies when you’re having fun, and the 3 weeks with my new family rushed by before my eyes. Every day brought a new experience, whether it was discovering Iran’s mysteries in the depths of the libraries or pondering on the beauty of Allah’s creations at the waterfalls in Hamadan. One thing that surprised me the most, was how fast I was able to make a connection with the holy personalities, and before I knew it, I felt closer to them than I had ever felt before. The nights spent worshipping and praying in the beautiful mosque of our beloved Bibi Masuma (AS), the tears that fell uncontrollably when I told my Imam (AJFS) how much I missed him in Jamkaran, and the longing of being close to the 8th star at his holy Haram in Mashhad. As each day passed, we realised how precious our time and soon, we learned to cherish each moment of our journey; whether it was listening to the words of wisdom in the twilight lectures, sharing smiles on a table full of mouth-watering Iranian food, or climbing up Mount Khidr as we spiritually elevated our souls. Going for this summer camp allowed me to leave my old life behind for 3 weeks, and focus on cleansing my soul, making new friends, and cherishing every moment of the life that I take for granted. Even though I was repeatedly told about the wonders that this place brought, I realised that it was better to see something once, than to hear it a thousand times.
The atmosphere was heavy as everyone said their last goodbyes, and I knew that even though we were no longer physically close to the holy personalities, they stood close to us spiritually. Upon leaving Iran, I came to the conclusion that I had taken the best opportunity that has ever been given to me.
Written by: Saiqa Pirmohammed from UK
In response to the crisis in Gaza, The World Federation is sending more aid to Gaza this Ramadhan. In this blessed and sacred month, we pray for the safety and well-being of all men, women and children living in the Gaza Strip who are affected by the ongoing violence.
Brother Naushad Mehrali has been serving as the head of Madressa Centre of Excellence (MCE) since 2011. Having served as a madressa Principal and teacher for several years, he feels very fortunate to be given the opportunity to take on this role.