The memory of my first day in Iran is still fresh in my mind; climbing up the slight slope towards the Jamia blocks, dragging my heavy suitcases and being greeted warmly by the mentors who had already arrived. That’s when it hit home. This is real. This is the beginning - the first step.
Imam Ali (AS) has said: “Live in this world as a traveller, and leave behind you every sweet memory. Indeed we are guests here, and every guest must soon leave.”
I have always had high expectations about the experience of travelling, with a certain inescapable lure. Visiting distant lands, learning about foreign cultures and languages, meeting new people and exploring sights were all things I was looking forward to prior to leaving for Iran. However, I was not aware of what an impact this trip would have on so many aspects of my life.
Travelling to the Middle East and being removed from an environment I was familiar with allowed me to broaden my understanding of the world and specifically on this trip, my religion. I was given a new perspective on the things I was always taught in Madrasah, Islamic ideologies and daily rituals. The perfect balance of spiritual revival, physical activity, cultural experiences and class time added to this experience. Whether it was praying in congregation amongst thousands of others, climbing Mount Khidr and looking down onto the city of Qum, or absorbing the underground wonders of the Ali Sadr cave. There was wisdom and a lesson behind everything, every place we visited, everything we saw, we could see Allah (SWT) and feel His omnipotence. This gave me a strong sense of the all-encompassing presence of Islam in our lives.
I began feeling this impact through the power of tears, which were always coupled with feelings of peace and contentment. Being in the Holy Shrines, seeing the beauty of nature and visiting extraordinary personalities put me in touch with my spiritual and emotional side.
There is something refreshing about reading Dua Nudba in Masjid Jamkaran or seeing Shia’s from all over the globe gather at the Imam's shrine that evokes this sad, yet happy feeling. I cannot organize the words and thoughts in my mind together to truly articulate how I feel and what I experienced during my time in Iran. It is this feeling that left its mark on me, a sort of spiritual energy that I took back home to Canada after an eye-opening and truly holistic experience.
Written by: Fattimah Hamam from Canada
The journey was Alhamdulillah an amazing experience. Once the participants arrived the course started in full swing with classes in the morning, outings in the evening and prayers in the Haram at night, the time flew by.
When I first learnt that I had been accepted into this course I felt joy, not only because I would have the opportunity to increase my knowledge of Islam, but also because I knew that Imam Ridha and Sayeda Masooma had accepted me so I could visit them.