Islamic Unity Society’s summer camp was an enriching experience as members seized the unique opportunity to take the weekend break to the idyllic Welsh countryside. Associates of IUS from London, Leeds and Manchester attended the workshops, which included: Spiritual Zone, Leadership and the MBTI programme which delved deep in the phenomenon of the ‘self’. As Prophet Muhammad (S) said, ‘He who knows himself, knows his Lord’ this marvellous quote mentioned at the very start of the workshop set the scene for what these exclusive few days embodied. Members took this opportunity to network and make new friends with the vision to progress as individuals and give back to family, friends and society.
The Spiritual Zone was presented by the humble Sayed Hassan Al-Sadr, he imparted wisdom on us by covering challenging topics such as ‘conflict resolution’ and ‘transformational leadership’ of course with a spiritual twist, which evoked interesting discussions and presented the group with the tools to improve ones relationship with Allah (s.w.t), the self and humanity. The Leadership workshop was led by the incredible Sheikh Ja’far Ladak who posed challenging questions such as: what qualities make a good leader and why? The qualities of a great leader were debateable and generated many important questions; through these thought processes the volunteers understood why certain traits are more important than the initial answers presented. Admirable Syed Mohammad Mozaffari enlightened IUS members with technique’s of self-analysis using MBTI to help discover who ‘the self’ is by default, and how to embrace ones strengths in addition to becoming cognizant of ones inferior side.
Here are some of the transformational experiences that IUS members had to share with us:
Maria’s insightful reflections on the Spiritual Zone:
We were honoured to have been in the presence of Sayyed Hassan Sadr, who demonstrated the essence of sincerity and goodwill. The first of the two workshops was entitled ‘Spiritual Zone’; The Spiritual Zone emphasised the importance of self-awareness, and how through implementing the four step process one can attain the highest levels of perfection. Sayyed Hassan mentioned the source of perfection is Allah (s.w.t) and we must actively strengthen our relationship with The Most Perfect. Moreover, in order to be placed on the righteous path towards Allah (s.w.t) we must understand the pure teachings of the infallible Ahlulbayt (a.s). We were advised to invest our time studying the lives of Ahlulbayt (a.s), so we attain closeness in both mind and heart. However, the journey of seeking perfection starts with the self. The four practical steps given by Sayyed Hassan are:
This procedure should be followed daily in order to develop spiritually. Once identifying our mistakes, we must take the active role to not repeat it especially within the 24-hour period; thereafter the time must be increased until the mistake is eliminated. Alongside this method, we were advised to do dhikr, recite the Qura’an, perform optional prayers, fast and supplicate. These supplementary acts of worship must be incorporated in our life with the intention of nearing oneself to the source of perfection, Allah (s.w.t). It was strongly advised to perform these prayers and supplications after Asr and the last third of the night.
Sayyed Hassan concluded the session by stating that we are not alone, everyone should be part of the spiritual movement to be inspired by Islam’s authentic teachings, by our collective efforts we would pave the way for the Imam of our time. Sayed Hassan shared a beautiful dua that translates:
‘O Allah, Empty my heart, fill it with dhikr, revive it with fear, humble it with that yearning for what you have for me in the hereafter and take my heart to the path that is most beloved to you.’
The second workshop was based on a topic the modern world is lacking; that is how to best resolve conflicts. ‘Conflict resolution’ was presented in a graph format:
Firstly, bridges between people should be built in order to successfully resolve conflicts. Thereafter, the root of the disagreement must be discussed and finally solutions must be sought, which does not require one to compromise their values and principles.
These workshops were engaging, educational and beneficial in tackling not only our spiritual struggles but also our social struggles. Sayyed Hassan equipped us with the knowledge to overcome any possible conflicts that we may encounter in life and in turn attain spiritual growth.
Ammar’s courageous leap of faith:
The Icebreaker entailed an interesting activity, it made me think about the image that best represents me and why. We shared one quirky fact, which made me more comfortable, we laughed a lot, and I already felt as if I had known everyone for a long time.
The leadership workshop made me think about the characteristics I currently have and the traits I am capable of developing. This has helped me gain faith in my abilities; learning that everyone has the chance of being a leader merely by setting their mind to it.
I felt the MBTI was both fun and beneficial, it made me discover my personality type and this has helped me identify my weakness and how I can improve myself.
I felt the gorge walk was initially something that I would not do however, when seeing everyone chanting my name and telling me that: I can do it, this motivated me to conquer my fears in taking part in an activity I had never imagined myself doing. Furthermore, I felt the gorge walk was one of the most important activities in the camp, where a combination of skills such as leadership and teamwork were practiced in a fun way.
I feel I have made many friends along the way and taken a massive step forward in my life. I give a massive thanks to the IUS camp for giving me this opportunity to grow, learn and have fun!
Hudda’s moments of musing:
I really enjoyed the MBTI personality analysis, it was deeper than usual and we got better insights into different aspects of our personalities. This knowledge will help me identify my weaknesses better and develop these very aspects.
The leadership workshops were very important to me, and gave me practical insights into how to be a good leader and lead society forward. It was hands on; we went through interesting scenarios and discussed different outcomes.
The gorge walk was a very refreshing activity, it is not something I had done before, despite the immensely cold water, I genuinely enjoyed it and had lots of fun. We experienced how this is a good team building exercise.
Yousef’s journey of self-discovery:
To be reminded of ones religious foundations in life, it is essential to rediscover oneself continually. Thus, removing distractions and staying focussed was attained easily as we were surrounded by the countryside. I was in company with like-minded and pious individuals who through logical religious discussions evoked a strong sense of spiritual upliftment. One such discussion incorporated the idea of ‘crushing the soul’ which is an act of great honour and humility. Whereby ones taqwa is used to please only Allah (s.w.t) for the greater good of resolving conflicts and maintaining peace. Such examples could be to apologise when not at fault, and to smile displaying kindness in situations where anger fills the heart. Consequently, the act of achieving a ‘peaceful resolution’ for the sake of God, rather than to ‘win a case’ strengthens ones Imaan and comes with great reward.
The hidden component of such a successful trip lies with the efforts of individuals who are on a purposeful journey towards Allah. The enlightening lessons of scholars and teachers inspired by the guidance and teachings of the Ahlulbayt (a.s) enabled us to be surrounded by positive role models. Such role models resonated a chain of good intentions and actions that inspired us to carry this knowledge forward to the remaining years of our lives.
At the end of the trip, each person expressed how they felt empowered in gaining knowledge of their personality type, how to resolve conflicts, the steps one can take to grow spiritually and the characteristics one needs to develop in becoming a great leader. This experience inspired all to change for the better and to be the positive energy in this turbulent world; InshaAllah IUS hopes to continue creating such opportunities to build stronger communities and lasting friendships. The beautiful verse in the Holy Quran comes to mind: ‘Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves’ (13:11); Islamic Unity Society is one of the significant mediums which creates the opportunity for this metaphysical change to occur.
Written by Mary Hashemi