Islam, Jan - Mar 2007

My Experience at the AbuBakr As-Siddeeq Seminar

By Amiira bint Fernando


March 15th, 2006

“We’re actually going to Makkah and Madinah?!” I could not bring myself to believe that my zowj and I were going to have the opportunity to make our “˜Umrah, as well, as learn from some of the top “˜Ulamaah. Subhan’Allaah, it was like a dream come true.

As I looked out the window of the airplane, I still felt myself in doubt. Why me? I embraced this beautiful and wonderful Deen in March 1999, and still felt that there was so much more I needed to perfect before being worthy of setting foot in the Haram. But as one person had put it, “It is a very special thing when you are able to go, because it is as if Allah subhannahu wa ta’alaa, is inviting you.” After hearing that, I felt even more humbled and honoured that we were blessed with this chance of a lifetime.

On our way from the airport, we approached a fork in the road towards Makkah, my heart stopped, seeing the road sign specifically directed “For Non-Muslims”. The reality of the choice I had made of becoming Muslim was truly made manifest. Realizing that these two roadways for the believers and non-believers, metaphorically illustrated the pathways to al-Jannah and al-Jahannam. The difference between my loved ones travelling on one rather than the other, was the simple yet profound weight of a few words” La illaha ill’Allaah aMohammadur Rasoolullaah”

We arrived at the Haram before Fajr and began to perform our “˜Umrah. Perhaps because of the long travel and lack of sleep, it made it all seem even more like a dream. Endless dhikr of Allaah, du’as of tawbah and hidayaah for my family were on my tongue, my heart and mind. “If only they (my family) could see this” if only, insha’Allaah, one day

At the hotel, we were shown to our rooms. Alhumdulilaah, from the beginning, the sisters were very upfront and honest with each other, since we knew that we would be living together for the next two weeks.

Through my journey of this Deen, I have seen how difficult it can be for some sisters when trudging through the path to knowledge, either on account of not having a mahram for travelling or simply having to look after a family at home. And may Allah (swt) reward those sisters who make all the efforts to gain this precious “˜ilm of the Deen. Due to the set up of some lectures, sometimes the “˜ilm is not clearly understood as it is for the brothers. This is usually based on the fact that you cannot actually see the teacher and can be a little frustrating, since physical expression or mannerisms have a lot to do with fully grasping and understanding a lesson. Thus, it took a great deal of patience and concentration to do so.

As a sister, sometimes you feel that you wish you could be there right in front of the Scholars or Students of Knowledge during lessons, but alhumdulilaah, we all felt fortunate to even be there listening to them live! There was only a doorway, covered by a curtain that separated us from them in the lecture hall, so we were able to hear everything clearly and as if we were right there with them, alhumdulilaah. Keeping in mind that there will come a time when the Scholars will not be around for us to take our “˜ilm from, caused me to take my studying a lot more seriously than if I were at home listening to lessons on a tape. All I could think about was that I had to get this “˜ilm, and learn it thoroughly, and have it ingrained not only in my mind but in my heart. So that I could return home with the proper skills to benefit and improve my Deen, and most importantly, the dawah towards my family. May Allah soften their hearts and guide them” Aameen.

There were a total of five sisters that participated in this course, and mash’Allaah, I feel blessed to have been a part of something so special. Not only did we bond, but we were able to talk and support each other with our personal struggles. We shared each other’s notes and books, and tested one another on certain subjects that we were having difficulty with.

One of the highlights of our trip was going to Umal Qura University in Makkah. Once we (the sisters) heard that we were going, we literally threw on our abayas and jet out of our rooms! We were so excited! For me, it was another far-fetched dream that I never thought would happen any time soon, subhan’Allaah.

We arrived at the building for the Sisters and entered with huge smiles on our faces. Even though we had heard about the university, it was still surprising to see no one wearing the “garb” that we wear outside. Mash’Allaah, I thought it was so cool! Escorted by a staff member to the main office area, we were greeted and introduced to different members of the university’s faculty, as well as the Dean, herself. After assuring us that there were no men in the building, they invited us to hang up our over-garments. Nervously, we looked at each other, realizing that we were so excited to come that some of us only had our pjs underneath! We timidly stated that we were unprepared and added humorously that” “we just love our hijaab too much!” They all smiled, looking very professional and mash’Allaah, beautiful. They offered us the traditional Arabic coffee with delectable chocolates and after conversing for a while and getting to know one another, we were given a tour of the grounds.

After meeting more faculty members, having more coffee and chocolates, seeing the library and various departments, I was completely overwhelmed with the idea that insha’Allaah, I just HAVE to come to school here! All I kept thinking about was how mash’Allaah, blessed these beautiful sisters were to come here for school. Close to the Haram, in Makkah, hearing the adhaan throughout the day (live!), not having to put up with the terrible fitnah that comes with living in the land of the kuffaar, learning the Deen from people of Knowledge and just living among them” subhan’Allaah, I came close to tears many a time throughout our little tour.

Lastly, we were seated in a boardroom with all the faculty members, where an array of snacks and refreshments were served. After expressing what we thought of the school, all I could think of was how badly I wanted to pursue my Islamic education. And at the same time, how difficult and hurtful it is when your non-Muslim family is ignorant of its importance and would much rather you take a ribaa-based loan to get a secular kuffaar education. My thoughts were suddenly interrupted when little tokens or gifts were being handed to us on behalf of the school. I was so touched by their hospitality and just felt my heart ache even more for my family. Wishing that they could know that this truly is the Haq from our Lord. The worst feeling for a “revert” is just knowing that you’re disappointing your parents, and no matter how much you are struggling fisibillillah, they just cannot understand or see, let alone, care.

As to those who reject Faith, it is the same to them whether thou warn them or do not warn them; they will not believe. Allah has set a seal upon their hearts and upon their hearing and there is a covering over their eyes, and there is a great punishment for them. (Surah al-Baqarah 6-7)

I covered my face and started to cry. A sister explained that I was just too overwhelmed with happiness. I guess I just couldn’t hold it in and feeling a bit embarrassed, I explained that I just didn’t want to go home. Little did I realize that almost every one in the entire room had started to cry as well.

In the end we just asked that they remember us in their du’as and that insha’Allaah, not to forget us because we would be back. If not as students, then at least to visit.

Our second last day, my husband and I were personally taken to Shaykh Rabee’s house for some important naseeha in which I was in urgent need of. I was not able to see him, as there were many brothers inside, however, my issue was still addressed, alhumdulilaah. At the spur of the moment, the brother who took us, decided to try another Shaykh’s house. Mash’Allaah, my husband and I were able to sit with Shaykh Muhammed Jamil Zino. He was very hospitable, mash’Allaah! My issue was explained to him and he offered beautiful and encouraging advice. He made du’as for us and our families, and made sure we left with materials to give to them.

Besides the fundamentals and “˜ilm that I absorbed during this course, I felt the greatest impact come from the grave importance given to calling to the tawheed and the way of calling to it. At the time I had only been Muslim for 3 years and in my experience, found so many incidents in which new Muslims were frightened away or turned off due to the ignorance and lack of adhaab and aqlaaq that many other Muslims have today. And no matter how much knowledge one may have, it will never benefit anyone, if one does not also grasp the fiqh in calling to this Truth. If this can be accomplished, it is truly a beautiful and humbling thing to witness. I know that now because of what I, myself, have witnessed. And may Allah (azj) grant us this understanding, so that we may be successful in our call” Aameen.

Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance. (Surah an-Nahl:125)