Once again Exam time had arrived and in preparation for this an intensive AQA GCSE RS Exam Skills Course was held at Al-Muntazir Islamic Seminary (ALMIS) in Dar es Salaam. The course facilitated by Sister Mehjabeen Rahim, GCSE Coordinator of the WF Islamic Education, was tailored to train and prepare students sitting the AQA GCSE Religious Studies Unit 8 and Unit 9 exams this summer.
The Islamic Center established by The World Federation in Nepal had the opportunity to host several events and organize exciting activities during the months of Jamadi al-Thaani and Rajab.
Apart from the weekly Jumah prayers and all usual Khushali and Wafaat gatherings at the center, the programs also included interfaith events with the Non-Muslim communities.
Below is a summary of the events and activities conducted:
1. Usual functions at the Islamic Center during all Wiladat and Shahadat:
Eight functions were held in Kathmandu before the lockdown, including a grand celebration on the birth anniversary of Ameer al-Mu’mineen Ali ibn Abi Talib (AS).
For the first time, a recreational outing with all the refugee families sponsored by The World Federation was organized at the Organic Park, with the intention of strengthening bonds within the communities and encouraging them to take a more active role in the organization of different events at the Center and outside.
2. Interfaith program and other activities:
Our continuous efforts to hold humanitarian and interfaith activities through the Islamic Centre has brought peace and harmony among the local religious communities in the region. These activities not only act as a platform to promote the teachings of the AhlulBayt (AS) but also help in establishing a stronger connection with the Non-Muslim society
• World Hijab Day with Nepali Hindu, Buddhist and Christian students (1st February 2020)
Following the Wiladat of Lady Fatima Zahra (SA), the Islamic Center organized an educational program at the Bhadrakali English Medium School to introduce the concept of Hijab among the Nepalese students of different religions.
The program was attended by 35 participants, which included 15 male and female students and 5 teachers of the Bhadrakali School. During the ceremony, Sister Almas Zainab who was representing the Islamic Center, spoke about the benefits and philosophy of Hijab in Islam and its spiritual effects. She also made a visual demonstration on how to wear it. This session was praised by the participants and gave them the opportunity to ask questions and understand this important concept in Islam.
• Lady Zahra (SA) themed painting competition for young children
This competition organized by our Islamic Center in Nepal was open for the children of all communities and was themed to depict the life of Lady Zahra (SA) on the occasion of her birth anniversary on the 20th of Jamadi al-Thaani, also known as Women’s Day.
A total of 24 children participated, of which 6 were Non-Muslims and was held in one of Kathmandu’s exhibition halls.
The program started with an introduction and brief insight about the exemplary life and character of Sayyida Fatima Zahra (SA). Soon after the introduction, the competition began and all participants were asked to present an artwork based on Lady Zahra (SA)’s life. All the paintings were then judged and the top 3 among them were announced as winners. A consolation prize was awarded to all participants as a token of appreciation for participating in the event. Arrangements for lunch were also made at the end of the program.
The main purpose of this program was to raise awareness about the exceptional manners of this great Lady to be taken as a Role Model, Sayyida of all ladies in the universe. This event also created a friendly atmosphere among the young children of the different communities in the region and gained appreciation from the participants and their parents.
• Participation in the celebration of Parents’ Day with Hindu & Buddhist parents
On the 15th of March, a celebration program for Parents Day was organized by the Bhadrakali English Medium School, which was attended by 150 Non-Muslim parents and students. The Resident Alim of our Centre, Maulana Dr. Mohammed Zainul Abidin, was the only Muslim who participated in this program along with his daughters, who were donning the Hijab. One of the purposes of the ceremony was to have discussions on how to raise children. The Maulana had a brief but eloquent talk about how to raise children from the Islamic point of view and it had a positive impact on other parents who participated. This program not only helped us in establishing strong communication with the members of other communities but also allowed them to become more familiar with the Islamic perspective of Tarbiyah. Regarding this event, Maulana Zainul Abideen commented: “Attending this program was very beneficial for getting to know more and making friends with our Non-Muslim brothers. Communicating with them is very effective in building trust and inviting them to Islamic ceremonies in the future.”
• Discussion with the Yulbang Church about Jesus Christ in light of Islam
In Nepal, Christianity is a very popular religion. The Resident Alim of our Center arranged a meeting on 18th of March with the in-charge of the Yulbang Church, Mr. Arjun to empathize with the Christian brothers and to develop close bonding between the two Abrahamic religions. The meeting focused on ways of strengthening ties between both the communities and holding ceremonies or interfaith seminars on Jesus Christ from the perspective of Islam and Christianity. Mr. Arjun welcomed the idea and ensured his collaboration in similar activities and participation in Islamic seminars in the future.
• Dialogue with the honorable Hindu leader Ajay Kumar and Ahle Sunnah Maulana Mr. Zia al-Mustafa Barakati in Nepalgunj city
Another session was arranged in Nepalgunj, the largest Muslim city in Nepal, between the Resident Alim of our Center in Kathmandu, Ahle Sunnah Maulana Zia al-Mustafa Barakati and local Hindu community leader Mr. Ajay Kumar, with the aim of establishing the presence of Shi’a Muslims in Nepalgunj and strengthening our relations within and outside the Muslim community. Maulana Zia al-Mustafa provided his best cooperation to us and kindly agreed to host this dialogue session at the Barakatia Madrasah where he is the Headmaster. Through this dialogue, we were able to focus on developing an alliance between the Shi’ites and Ahle Sunnah brothers and also introduce the teachings of the AhlulBayt (AS) to the Hindu community.
• Meeting with Madame Yusha Tamang, the in-charge of Buddhist temple and discussions about Imam Hussein's (AS) sacrifices for humanity
On 22nd of March, the Resident Alim of our Centre in Nepal met with Madame Yusha Tamang who is in charge of the local Buddhist Temple, with the purpose of discussing the universal message of Imam Hussain (AS) and explaining the events of Karbala to the members of the Buddhist community and establishing humanitarian ties with them.
• Presentation of Islamic books translated in Nepali language
The Islamic Center presented books translated and published by our Center in Nepali language to a new revert in our community. The lady who accepted Islam recently was presented with books on the biography of Imam Hussain (AS), the event of Karbala and a few other books to assist her in understanding the religion. The Islamic Center also asked her to share these books among her friends and relatives to further spread the message of AhlulBayt (AS).
3. Activities on Social media
The Nepali Shia Facebook account, which is managed by the Islamic Center, has been extremely effective in spreading awareness about Islam and the teachings of the AhlulBayt (AS) among the Non-Muslim communities in Nepal and India. The activities of the page include translations and daily posts of the traditions from the Holy Prophet (SAW) and our Aimmah (AS) and relevant topics that are needed in that environment.
The Resident Alim of our Centre there has also presented lectures and addressed gatherings on various occasions through websites and social media. The content of these lectures is mainly focused on the teachings of the AhlulBayt (AS). The Islamic Center has also created a Whatsapp group where youngsters can ask their religious queries directly to the Maulana. The group also serves as a platform for sharing Ahadith, Ayaat from the Holy Quran, and other relevant topics. The announcements for the events at the Islamic Center are also made via this group.
The Qum Office was honored with the visit of Sheikh Mohammed Ali Ismail, ex-manager of The World Federation Qum office. A meeting was held between Head of Islamic Education, Sheikh Kumail Rajani and Sheikh Ismail.
The overall goal of this development programme is to increase the skills of teachers, and to shift their attitudes and behaviours so that they may be better able to support the learning of the students in the Madrasah.