Monday 17th July 2017, Day 1
As we arrived in Tehran at around 6:10 a.m, we passed through the VISA Security, collected our luggage and went straight out and felt the beautiful warm weather of Tehran. Despite the hot/warm weather, unlike in the UK we immediately got used to it.
From Tehran to The Holy Land of Qom, we went by coach and arrived in almost one hours time. In that hour, I could not imagine how my time went by so quickly (maybe because we were so tired from the flight!). I felt spiritually elevated as we gradually approached the city of Qom. We saw the beautiful blue dome of Jamkaran from far, and the verses from Dua Nudbah ‘Mataa taraana wa naraak’ were going through my head. Immediately I got emotional as our 12th Imam is hidden from us.
We then arrived our accommodation (Dar Al Zahra) and met other participants from different countries such as from Dubai, Kenya, Tanzania, Canada, and America.
Alhamdulillah, we quickly got to know them and immediately felt bonded. After having our breakfast, we rested for a while and got ready for the Opening Ceremony. Whilst we were getting ready, we met the Bab participants and got to know them too.
Arriving at the Opening Ceremony, we met Agha Amin, Shaykh Nadir Jaffer and a few other prominent personalities. They introduced us to the Bab/Madinah course. Shaykh Nadir’s speech enabled me to deeply ponder over the main reason ‘why am I here?’ ‘What am I trying to achieve after completing the course?’ Almost the end of the discussion, Agha Amin recited the beautiful supplication of Dua Faraj and I then realised that one of the reasons why I am here, taking part in Bab/Madinah course is to ‘get closer to Allah SWT and connect ourselves with our 12th Imam, Imam Mahdi a.s spiritually and mentally.’
After the Opening Ceremony, we straight went to the Shrine of Sayyida Fatima Ma’sooma (s.a). I was eagerly waiting to visit the Zarih since we arrived in Iran and as we got in the coach, Agha Amin told us about performing the Ziyarah of Sayyida Ma’sooma (s.a). What broke my heart was the fact that Agha Amin said as the grave of Sayyida Fatima-tuz Zahra s.a is unknown, performing the Ziyarah of Sayyida Fatima-tuz Zahra s.a in the Shrine equals the same reward. When we arrived near the Shrine, Shaykh Mohammed Ismail advised us all to constantly do the Dhikr of Allah SWT by simply doing the Tasbeeh of Sayyida Fatima-tuz Zahra (s.a). As in that way, we remain focused whilst entering the Shrine. Finally, with trembling feet, I entered the Zarih.Thereafter, we had congregational prayers in the Haram and returned to our accommodation where we had some mini icebreakers and first-day reflections of the Ziyarah with our mentors.
Written by: By Ammar Habib of CoEJ (London)
Saturday 22nd July 2017 – Day 6
Well, another packed and busy day but a lot of fun, excitement and many smiles. Half an hour before the Fajr prayers, the participants of Bab and Madinah began to rise for the long road trip to Hamadan, praying at Dar Al Zahra and having amazing egg rolls on the way to Hamadan.
Our bus arrived at around 4:45 early in the morning all ready to go, we loaded our luggage on to the bus and began our journey. Most of us took a nap as our journey was going to be long and tiring. As we left the Holy City of Qum, we were met by the beautiful scenery of farms and open grasslands on the way to Hamadan. As our journey progressed, many of us woke up and played UNO cards on the way.
As we entered the city of Hamadan, we visited the natural history museum and then went for a delicious traditional lunch, then made our way to our motel to unpack and take a short break before visiting the mountains and riding on the tele-cabins. We made it to our destination and rode on the tele-cabins towards the top before taking some group and individual pictures for our social media platforms. We also did some trekking towards higher points of the mountain. We did taste a bit of the fresh water that was available for free at the top. One of our amazing Shaykhs, Shaykh Nadir showed us the graves of some of the martyrs that were buried there. We then took tele-cabins towards the bottom.As planned for the day, we made our way to the Ganjnameh scriptures and Waterfalls. The energy, ambiance, and environment were so lively, exciting. We had to make our way by foot to the top. Many of us walked right under the waterfall to experience the cold and refreshing waterfalls. As the time for Maghrib prayers approached we made our way to the bottom and finally found a place to pray and do wudho. We were quite tired as it had been a long day but at the end of our prayers, we were given an amazing lecture from one of our great teachers, Agha Amin. There is one point that was notable in this lecture, Agha mentioned that when we strive and struggle to pray on time, and together, in such circumstances our prayers become greater, and they have a greater chance of acceptance in the eyes of Allah.
As planned for the day, we made our way to the Ganjnameh scriptures and Waterfalls. The energy, ambiance, and environment were so lively, exciting. We had to make our way by foot to the top. Many of us walked right under the waterfall to experience the cold and refreshing waterfalls. As the time for Maghrib prayers approached we made our way to the bottom and finally found a place to pray and do wudho. We were quite tired as it had been a long day but at the end of our prayers, we were given an amazing lecture from one of our great teachers, Agha Amin. There is one point that was notable in this lecture, Agha mentioned that when we strive and struggle to pray on time, and together, in such circumstances our prayers become greater, and they have a greater chance of acceptance in the eyes of Allah.
Alhamdulillah, we had an amazing and fun packed day. I hope this blog gives you an insight into how our day went and also learn from our great experiences. With that, I am very thankful to the organisers, teachers, mentors and my Parents for allowing and giving me such a great experience.
Written by: Adam F Khakoo. Bab Summer course participant, Middle East
Friday 21st July 2017, Day 5
I’ll keep this short and will describe my feelings in three words. Life changing, spiritual and mind blowing.
This journey truly takes one closer to Allah SWT.
Visiting the lady of light in the city of knowledge QOM, listening to DUA-E- TAWASSUL in the presence of the beloved son of Zahra (ATFS) at the grand mosque of Jamkaran frees one from the shackles of this world.
Having a chance to talk to, learn and just observe various scholars such as, Shaykh Mohammed Ali Ismail, Shaykh Nadir Jaffar, Shaykh Amin and Shaykh Mustafa creates a reformation within and strengthens our connection with the awaited savior, Yuf-E-Zahra, the soul of this world, Imam Mahdi AS. I pray to Allah to grant them a long life so that they can continue with this mission.
Today was my first Friday, Alhamdulillah I was blessed with an opportunity to pray Salatul Jummah at the Musallah of Qom. The prayers were led by Ayatullah A’Araafi who is the current head of all of the Hawzas in this city.
With trembling feet I entered Gulzar-e-Shohada for the Ziyarah of the Shohada. Words from the famous tribute “Fasle Gul Hai Ab Jahan main, Ae Shaheedo Tum Kaha Ho” … echoing in my ears. I don’t have enough words to express how I felt after listening to the miraculous events which took place between a mother and her son after his Shadaat and between a small daughter and her father really shook my soul and was a real wake up call. The biggest lesson I learned was that one has to fight and conquer his inner self first. The power which these special souls have proven in many ways that they are still alive. As mentioned in the Holy Quran Surah Ale Imran verse 169 – “And never think of those who have been killed in the way of Allah as dead; nay they are alive and receiving provision from their Lord”.
Firstly I send my salutations to the martyrs of Karbala and then to the soldiers who have been martyred in the way of Allah for protecting our holy sites especially the Shrine of Syeda Zainab (May peace and blessings be on her).
I firmly believe they have achieved a very high status in the eyes of Allah SWT; and would be standing behind the army of Imam Hussein (AS) in Jannah, under the flag of the commander in chief Abal Fadhl. May Allah (SWT) give us the Tawfeeq to follow in their footsteps and grant us martyrdom.
To sum up this trip truly is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I cannot wait to stand under the golden dome to send my salutations to the King of Khorasan, Imam Ridha (AS).
I pray to Allah (SWT) to hasten the reappearance of Imam-e-Zamana (AS) and to include us all in his companions.
Written by: Ahsan Habib Mukhtarali – Madinah
Thursday 20th July 2017, Day 4
Another tremendous day with an early start on Shahadat day, the time of Fajr approached where everyone rose to begin the day. Soon after prayers, breakfast was served; gaining both a physical and spiritual energizer that was necessary for the long day that followed.
The bus arrived, and we all climbed onto the bus full of energy ready to view the film production site of the movie “Muhammad Rasool- Allah (SAWW)”. The setting was split into three sections: Makkah, Madina and Basra. As soon as we approached the replica ‘Madina’, we were explained about some of the historical virtues & background by our one and only Agha Amin. The replica model of Madina was created extraordinarily, with beautiful scenes and sights to see. We saw the entire settings that were used for the insightful movie such as the house of our Holy Prophet (pbuh). Following ‘Madina’, we visited the replica model of ‘Makkah’ and ‘Basra’. It was as if we had traveled back in time to the time of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in Makkah. A beautiful replica of the Holy Ka’aba as well as some idols and houses had been built to represent the days in the past at the Holy Prophet’s time. We were given a fascinating tour alongside a delicious lunch followed by Zohr and Asr prayers.
After a lengthy tour, we returned back to Dar-uz-Zahra, all of us crashing down exhausted, resting ourselves preparing for the visitation of Bibi Fatima-al-Ma’sooma (AS). We took the bus once again towards the Haram.
Words are not enough to describe the feeling of being in the Holy Shrine. The Haram is another home for the Shia of Amir-al-Mumineen (AS). Trust me, every time you enter that haram, it is always a profound experience which renews every time you step in. We performed the Ziyarah at the Holy Shrine. It felt like a completely different world, upon entering the Haram. A special connection could be felt between us and this holy personality. The lady of Qum. As we got closer to the shrine of Bibi Fatima-al-Ma’sooma (AS), our hearts were trembling eagerly wanting our duas to be accepted by Allah (SWT). The time of Maghrib came, and the adhan was recited beautifully calling all Mumineen at once to perform this special meeting with Allah (SWT).
After the prayers were performed, Masaib began where everyone was weeping for Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (AS). Furthermore, we all raised our hands up together in the congregation for Dua Kumayl. The special Thursday night dua in which we praise Allah (SWT) and ask for forgiveness. The feeling you get in the Haram is of shame and regret. You are performing this Dua with the presence of Bibi Fatima-al-Ma’sooma (AS) there who had an extremely high level of faith. The connection between you and Allah (SWT) during this dua is just absolutely unbelievable. You have to be there yourself to truly feel this connection. The recitation was beautiful and heartbreaking.
Alhamdulillah, after having an extraordinary day, we returned back to our accommodation and rested ready for the next day.
Written by: Ammar Ali Jaffer – Bab
Tuesday 18th July 2017, Day 2
Second day in heaven. And as obvious as it may sound, I’m most obviously unable to express myself just like a thirsty man who sees rain after years of a drought. My imperfect words are no match for an atmosphere blessed with heavenly perfection. So keeping that crucial information in mind, we can proceed to the happenings of the day, which I tend to call, “Dream Come True”.
Jamkaran; A dream for every lover of the Holy Imam. A light for one’s darkest spots. Words cannot explain how much this mosque is yearned for, especially on the day for “Tawassul”, the blessed day of Tuesday where people gather in thousands to this Holy place and recite the Dua’a.
After a lovely Iranian breakfast, we attended excellent classes by scholars, spiritual Salah in jama’a, lunch and a great class by Shaykh Mohammed Ali Ismail where he taught us how to perfect our wudhoo and tayammum. We were in awe just thinking of Jamkaran. How blessed servants we were, to get this blessing from our master, who is the goal of the believers, and the excellence of the worshippers. Words can never explain the yearning in our hearts. And with all our problems and emotions ready to explode to our Master. we leave Dar-uz-Zahra and are left restless on the way, standing up, sitting down, I could sense it, I was going to heaven!!
And by the Almighty, who has power over all thoughts and feelings, when I reached, I felt nothing less than what I had imagined. A place so perfect that even the-never-satisfied human being finds solace just being in its midst. We were to make this grand entrance to heaven through “Bab-ul-Ma’sooma”, a gate of the many gates of heaven. Led by the great Shaykh Mohammed Ali Ismail, we walked through the door. And as soon as I stepped foot inside, I felt myself being elevated to a state I know I am not deserving of, I just couldn’t believe it as everyone says, but as the wind, pushed by the Angels, was struck against my face. My heart was illuminated with peace and Noor of the Holy progeny blessed be their souls.
After we prayed our Salah, the doubt had turned into certainty. The long awaited Imam was amongst us. Hearts in awe of this magnificent being chosen by the Almighty Himself, and at the same time deeply in love with him. The heart is left in this sort of confusion, that cannot be described by the human tongue, and in that is where the heart will find its peace.
After an informative majlis, and an emotional masa’ib, the purpose of everyone’s arrival began, Dua’a-at-Tawassul. This for me was an exceptional way for hearts to open up because everyone was just looking for an excuse to cry. And the smallest thing would make everyone weep, pouring out all their thoughts and emotions, and when people feel that way, and you mention the tragedies that befell their most beloved ones, you can just imagine what would happen. The voice of the reciter raises the arms of everyone else, lamenting, in close conversations with their Lord and the Imam.
Written by: By HaiderAli Habib of AFED (Mombasa)