وَمَا كَانَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لِيَنفِرُوا كَافَّةً ۚ فَلَوْلَا نَفَرَ مِن كُلِّ فِرْقَةٍ مِّنْهُمْ طَائِفَةٌ لِّيَتَفَقَّهُوا فِي الدِّينِ وَلِيُنذِرُوا قَوْمَهُمْ إِذَا رَجَعُوا إِلَيْهِمْ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَحْذَرُونَ
[9:122] Nor should the Believers all go forth together: if a contingent from every expedition remained behind, they could devote themselves to studies in religion, and admonish the people when they return to them,- that thus they (may learn) to guard themselves (against evil).
So the time has finally come. Four years spent in contemplating, decision making, waiting and preparing for this moment – a moment that has finally arrived. By the Grace of Allah (swt) I have officially begun my journey of becoming a student at the seminary; a journey that I am honoured to have been given the privilege to embark on by Allah (swt).
I departed for Qum a few days ago and will most probably start to settle into the dorms very soon. Hopefully till the time that I am here, I will be blogging about life in Qum as a student. Perhaps the posts may encourage more youth from the West to decide whether studying in Qum is something they may be interested in pursuing. However, at the end of the day I believe that this is nothing but a Call from Allah (swt). The way matters transpired within my own life, the things that had to take place in order for me to be here over the span of four years – I am witness to all of them and know that it was nothing, but through the help of Allah (swt) that I was able to take this step. He will call you onto this path (which of course is also a test in it self) if He wishes, and won’t if He does not. Nevertheless, in whatever path one is put on they must continue to fulfill what their responsibilities are.
Just a brief background without really going into the detail of why I made the decision to leave everything behind and dedicate my life to studying the religion. It wasn’t until my 2008 Al Asr Trip that I had started to hear the word Hawzah so commonly, what it was and how it works. Before that I had only heard from certain scholars about how we as an Ummah desperately need scholars from the West. I never came to realize why they would mention this with a sense of urgency since I felt that we had plenty of scholars already. During my trip, two things essentially happened. One was that I started to realize how far behind I really was in terms of religious awareness and of course its implementation. I myself realized how little I knew, what spiritual heights truly existed for man to reach and what potential truly exists for man himself to change not only himself, but also exert that influence upon others. The second realization took place not on the trip itself, but when I came back. If an individual lives in the gutter their whole life, that is what life means to them. They don’t have anything else to compare it to. However, if that individual is brought out of the gutter and shown the world outside, surely he will not find peace in his heart residing in the gutter again. That is the kind of effect the trip had on me. The filth that one is surrounded by living in the West, whether it is the extent of materialism that exists there or other things, one is not able to see it unless one exits the place and enters a place that is at least to some extent devoid of that filth.
This created a severe attraction within me to ensure that I return back to the place that I had began to admire so much. What better excuse did I have besides something which I always found myself inclined to regardless – learning the deen. Not to mention the fact that life is way too short. I for one had no plans after that trip to live the “traditional life” of a Westerner and then depart from this world. Living a life where one would naturally be bogged down by the stress of a robotic work-life, social enslavement, worried about debts, loans and other financial expenditures that exist and a whole bunch of other variables and then eventually die! Furthermore, I knew that I had to train myself spiritually in order to face these tests and I sure wasn’t strong enough to train myself spiritually in the West, and expect to face all of these challenges without ever slipping. This kept me motivated to ensure that I took every step for my decision to leave finally take place . I consider this path and journey, one that was taken by the ‘ulema and something not to be taken lightly by any means. This is why this journey is a precious one and for those who are already studying here, one of their fears surely must be that may Allah (swt) not strip them away from this blessing.
While I am only just becoming familiar with the language of the country and still have a while before I begin my formal religious studies, just being in this environment is a blessing that I already find hard to forsake. Being in the presence of Lady Ma’suma (sa), who is always there at your disposal is a blessing that is one of a kind.
I plan on blogging whenever I get the time, about life as a student in Qum. Whether this includes things like what someone who is planning to come should expect, what studying is like here, what life in general is like and anything else that falls in between. At the end, I leave with this narration by the Holy Prophet (pbuh) as a reminder for myself:
رسولُ اللهِِ (صَلَّيَ اللهُ عَلَيهِ وَ آلِهِ: مَن طَلَبَ العِلمَ للّهِِ لَم يُصِبْ مِنهُ باباً إلّا ازدادَ بِهِ في نَفسِهِ ذُلاًّ ، وفِي النّاسِ تَواضُعاً، وللّهِِ خَوفاً ، وفِي الدِّينِ اجتِهاداً، وذلكَ الّذي يَنتَفِعُ بِالعِلمِ فَليَتَعَلَّمْهُ، ومَن طَلَبَ العِلمَ لِلدّنيا والمَنزِلَةِ عِندَ النّاسِ والحَظوَةِ عِندَ السُّلطانِ لَم يُصِبْ مِنهُ باباً إلّا ازدادَ في نَفسِهِ عَظَمَةً ، وعَلى النّاسِ استِطالَةً ، وبِاللّهِ اغتِراراً، ومِنَ الدِّينِ جَفاءً ، فذلكَ الّذي لا يَنتَفِعُ بِالعِلمِ ، فَلْيَكُفَّ وَليُمسِكْ عَنِ الحُجَّةِ عَلى نَفسِهِ ، والنَّدامَةِ والخِزيِ يَومَ القِيامَةِ.
The Prophet (pbuh) said, ‘He who seeks knowledge for Allah, no sooner does he learn even a chapter of it than it increases him in humility within himself, in humbleness in front of people, it increases his fear of Allah and his striving in religion, and that is the one who benefits from the knowledge that he gains. And he who seeks knowledge for this world and for status amongst people and for a favoured position with the ruler, no sooner does he learn even a chapter of it than it only increases his arrogance within himself, his presumptuousness with people, his self-delusion about Allah and his estrangement from religion. That is the one who does not benefit from his knowledge, and must subsequently refrain from it and stop furnishing proof for the case against himself in order not to feel regret and shame on the Day of Resurrection.’