On the weekend of the 25th and 26th of July, I attended CoEJ’s annual Youth Development Program.
Updated on 12 March 2018
I still remember that day as though it were only yesterday. I remember dragging my suitcase up the gravel road, squinting against the harsh sunlight after having slept through an hour long bus ride to Qum. I still remember the mixed feelings I felt as we stepped under the sign that said: Jamiat-uz-Zahra. Was I nervous or… excited at the prospect of staying in a foreign country without my parents for three weeks? But as we walked through the doors, the scenery ahead of me took my breath away; lush green grass, blooming trees and a beautiful fountain filled my sights, and one thing became clear. This place had already become my home.
Our stay in Qum began with an evening getting to know our warm and welcoming mentors, followed by the continuous flow of mentees arriving from across the globe, each batch becoming a new group of friends. Every morning began with a session of classes, held by inspiring teachers who imparted knowledge we would spend hours pondering over. And every evening, we were given the opportunity to discover more and more about the hidden secrets of the city that housed us. From the scenic climb up mount Khidr, where we witnessed the entire city of Qum buzzing with energy and liveliness, to the mesmerizing and tranquil atmosphere that surrounded Masjid-e-Jamkaran. Sitting there, under the glimmering night sky, listening to the hundreds of synchronized voices, each pouring out a different emotion, I realized that this really was an once-in-a-lifetime experience.
I realized how lucky I was to get the opportunity to be in the same very mosque as the Imam of our Time. The connections I made - with the Imam (AJFS) that night, with Bibi Masuma (AS) on my first ever visit to the Haram, and with Imam Al-Redha (AS) when I first looked up at the golden dome in the city of Mashhad - were like no other, allowing me to connect with them even now, thousands of miles away. But what made these moments even more special, were the twilight sessions and eye-opening lectures that gave us a deeper understanding and stronger emotional attachment to these inspiring personalities.
The summer camp in Iran allowed me to embrace its culture, it's language, and most of all, it's spiritual devotion to our religion, and now I can't wait to go back!
“Three weeks?!” They asked me. They said I would feel homesick… They said I would miss our parents... They said it would be a very long trip... But they couldn't have been further away from the truth. Our three week trip in Iran flew by faster than I could've ever imagined. And in that short time, we had all become the closest of friends, visited the most beautiful places, and made the most memorable memories, which would linger in our minds for ever…
Written by: Sana Pirmohamed from London
The children’s group from the Husaini Islamic Centre, Burton Street, launched a project to support the Peterborough foodbank.
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