In August 2016, the Risalat International Institute (RII) hosted its second annual summer course in conjunction with the International Institute for Islamic Studies (IIIS). The course was based on textbooks compiled by RII, namely Islamic Belief System and A Guide to Shia Islam. Below are some of the features and highlights from this year’s intensive two-week summer course:
- Instructors included:
- Hujjatul Islam Dr. Mohammad Ali Shomali
- Hujjatul Islam Mohammad Reza Mohaddes
- Hujjatul Islam Hasan Doagoo
- Hujjatul Islam Mahdi Rastifar
- Hujjatul Islam Mohammad Moalla
- Dr Yusuf Daneshvar
- Sr Israa Safieddine
- The following topics were covered:
- This year’s 25 participants (18 female, 7 male) came from Canada, Dubai, Kuwait, the UK, and the US.
- In addition to the holy shrines in the cities of Qom and Mashad, the group visited Masjid Jamkaran, Mount Khidhr, Ayatullah Mar`ashi Najafi’s Library, Golzar-e-Shohada, Bait al-Noor, the holy shrine’s museum in Mashad, as well as an exhibition on the 12th Imam near Masjid Jamkaran.
- In addition to in-class learning and visits to the holy sites, participants had the unique opportunity of creating and strengthening bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood. Throughout the trip, the sense of community was remarkable in that it was both strong and palpable.
- During the closing ceremony at the shrine of Imam al-Ridha (a), Dr. Shomali discussed some of the virtues of learning from an Islamic perspective. He expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the RII and IIIS teams for their tireless efforts. Participants also shared their feedback, thanked the instructors for their contributions, and thanked the mentors for their time and efforts.
- Survey results reveal that the majority of participants rated the course as “excellent.” We are pleased to note that the overwhelming majority rated most of the trips and programs as “excellent.”
I feel the honor of being present here as a guest of Imam Ridha (a) and also to be among you. I actually saw Islam here. The first time I’ve been to an organization or work of some people that I see kindness, patience, true devotion to the work – I’ve never seen [this] anywhere else. So I pray to Allah (swt) to help you keep going with such programs. Because we do need it. Most of us can’t commit ourselves to hawzah programs. This program really helps people who are seeking knowledge but they don’t have the time to attend the hawazah on full schedule.
The Risalat Course 2016 exceeded my expectations! Firstly the chance to visit the holy cities of Qum and Mashhad for ziyarat and combine this with studying interesting and enlightening subjects is something not to be missed. The course content was informative and the choice of several different tutors added to the interest. The planning, organisation and management were excellent and surely much more was going on behind the scenes and throughout the night! The organisers and mentors were on hand to help whenever needed and made any adjustments to the hot weather and different way of life as easy as possible.
I would recommend this course to anyone who wishes to add to the experience of ziyarat by gaining knowledge and maarifat which serves to enhance the stay in the holy cities. Living and studying together as a group also gives a good opportunity to actually put into practice concepts such as social wilayah.
May Allah (swt) give His best blessings in dunya and akhirah to all who organised and took part in the course and who do so in the future. Insha Allah the best of fruits and success will be seen in the very near future.
The Risalat course provided us with a rigorous opportunity to learn from an array of well-versed Islamic scholars from various backgrounds as well as our peers. The presenters had a strong command over English and were experienced teachers. Peer learning was encouraged through allocated discussion times, which helped further our classroom learning. Knowledgeable and caring counselors were always available to help us with any needs, whether learning-related or otherwise. I highly recommend the course to people seeking to learn in an intensive environment, enhanced with visitations to holy sites and a unique opportunity to learn alongside people from across the globe.
-Sr. Ambareen Fatima Jafri
I thank Allah (swt) for providing me with the blessing of taking part in the 2nd Risalat Summer Course. The course was very unique – one of its kind – as the content was not designed to tell the students “what Islam is” but instead to trigger one to ponder on the purpose and the essence of his or her existence.
As a revert I’m confident to say that the Risalat Summer Course met my most basic knowledge needs and has set the next stepping stone for me to learn about my faith. The team in charge of the course was a unit of learned individuals who are well-grounded in spirituality – very humble in their manner. As students of various background and age groups, the unity found in the team organisers influenced us to unite. My mentors and teacher have become for me role models and life sisters.
[…] As well the opportunity to experience the generosity of Imam Ali Reza (peace be upon him) and his beloved sister Lady Fatima Masooma (peace be upon her).
I thank Dr. Shomali and his team of stars, and I pray that Allah (swt) continues to strengthen their endeavour and spirituality. Most I infinitely thank Allah (the most loving) for this opportunity.
-Sr. Veronique Khasa
I would like to start by extending my utmost gratitude to all of the teachers, staff, and volunteers who worked relentlessly through Risalat Institute in order to inspire and bring together Muslim brethren from all backgrounds who are in pursuit of knowledge. This two week course provided a good structure and basis on many of the core tenants of the Shi’a faith. Approaching Islamic concepts through interactive discussions and activities, it seeks to delve deep into many of the underlying issues, and this allows for the student to expand their world view. Apart from the courses, there is the spiritual facet; which involves frequent trips to Masjid Jamkaran, and the Shrine of Hadhrat Masumah (sa), and Imam Ridha (as). This strikes a good balance between receiving tangible knowledge in a classroom setting and also embracing the spirit of that knowledge through its practical sense. Overall I feel that this course gave me the means to reassess my conscious, social, freedom, and honor responsibilities as a Shi’a Muslim living in a western context. Alhamdulillah.
-Sr. Nasreen Roohi