By Kumailabbas Dewji
Truly, to be born a follower of the Ahulbayt is the biggest blessing one can ask for. Having lived all my life in the heaven of peace, Dar es Salaam, the concept of religion was one I was no stranger to. Majlises, mehfils, lectures and many other activities were the norm in the community. Mosque was very much part of our lives from childhood and religious gatherings our real outings. I recall how during the month of Muharam, every activity in Dar would freeze for the majlises of Aba Abdillah (AS). Be it school, work or sports- everything would be put on hold as we would spend hours in the mosque taking part in different forms of Azaadari. The city centre would witness people wearing black clothing in virtually every other corner, all remembering the great sacrifice Imam Hussein (AS) and his family gave on the plains of Kerbala.
I, like most youths, was no different. I actively participated in all of the activities with the aim of spiritual upliftment. Come the year 2011, after completing my A Levels, I decided on pursing Medicine. I applied to different places and managed to secure a place at the Kasturba Medical College in Manglore, India.
At first I was excited and very happy to get a place in such a prestigious university. However, as the days progressed and the time to leave home got near, fear started creeping in. Was I ready to move away from home? This thought came for various different reasons but the most important of them was over my faith and religion. Having always heard about the various challenges and trials out there, especially in university life, I could not help but ask myself if I was equipped enough to be able to overcome such challenges and stand on the path that Bibi Zainab (AS) gave her hijab for. I prayed to Allah to guide me for I was taking this step for His pleasure with the aim to make a difference in the world with my qualification.
Ten months later and here I am in Manglore, almost done with my first year. Having stayed here for almost a year, I have faced various trials and tribulations. The aim of this article is to share my experience as to how I have come to see the beauty of my religion and how studying abroad has actually helped me in terms of my faith. As each day passes, with the great mercy of Allah, my conviction in the religion of Islam grows more and more, because unlike in the past when I was told Islam was the solution to the problems, now I actually see it right in front of me!
The first aspect where the religion of Islam has showed me that it is the true way of life has been in the way it focuses on the importance of living a disciplined life. The best form of worship- Salaah has been prescribed at specific times instilling in a person the importance of having a sense of timing and that goes a long way in teaching one discipline. Though it make look petty to a casual eye, but the timing of salaah plays a huge role in making a person systematic and organised.
Another example is how Islam emphasises on the need to have good morals and principles. Today I can see how my age group is facing so many problems, problems related to drugs and diseases. This is simply because we have forgotten the true teaching of our religion and as a result of it, have gotten into acts which are harming us. Drug abuse and immoral acts, which lead to spread of killer diseases like AIDS have taken such a root in our community.
Back home I was not as much exposed to the culture of drinking as I have come to witness here. Students in my class, some younger than me, spend every other weekend drinking, claiming it to be fun. A form of happiness which ends with the person not being in his own senses and leading to mischief and trouble for others. Such are the incidents that have made me believe strongly that when the religion of Islam says no to something, it is because our Merciful Lord knows what sort of harm that brings to us. All this was taught to me back home but moving away and witnessing different lifestyles and practices has truly convinced me of how beautiful and practical Islam is. Moving to a place where fellow lovers of Ahulbayt are so hard to find has made me appreciate the importance of a community too. Having always been a person who enjoyed going to mosque, the community has been something I have always treasured. Many a times we fail to realise how much our community is doing for us until we don’t have all those services at our disposal. I strongly believe that a community does play a huge role in the well being of an individual. That appreciation however, has to begin from home with the parents, and I am indeed very thankful to Allah for having such wonderful parents.
My father, well known to be an active community person, has always been a volunteer at mosque, kabrastan (graveyard) and mehfil. My late mother was no different being an active member in community affairs and was seen spending the full twelve days of Muharam in the mosque volunteering in different areas.
To be told to appreciate the community, Islam and ahlulbayt is one thing, but to witness both my parents give so much importance to the azaadari of Imam Hussein was a different story in itself. Their love for the holy ahlulbayt instilled in me the passion of love for Imam Hussein (a.s.).
Today it is that love that has pushed me to take an active part in organising Muharam programs here in Manipal. We have a group of 35 Shia students from different parts of the world (Tanzania, Kenya, Canada) pursuing different courses here. During this last Muharam, all of us together organised majlises and other programs in remembrance of our Imam. The pleasure and satisfaction achieved in doing all these events was amazing. Such hunger and desire to want to travel one and half hour to Manipal from Manglore every other day has come with the foundation laid by my parents and practices set up by the community.
Moving away from home where our thoughts are so restricted at times and our practices so traditional has helped me actually understand the true spirit of azaadari. By the day, I find new vigour and love for my Imam and the pure household of the Holy Prophet, may Allah send His choicest blessings on them all.