It was 4:57 am and the sound of adhan was echoing from all the corners of my room, the morning has entered and it was time to thank Allah for everything that I was given, being given and will be given and blessed with.
The Fajr army has woken up.
It was not a normal day as it was a day for me to travel to a city that I have heard a lot about. I was feeling nervous and excited.
I’ve packed my bags and we were all set to go. I’ve seen once again, the beauty of how the sky’s colors changes, subhan’Allah.
I woke my niece up and told her let’s do masajid counting, as I have been told that the journey to this place is like the journey from Madinah to Makkah, where you will see one masjid to another.
At first it was hard to keep up on counting the masajid as the beauty of nature captures your keen eyes, subhan’Allah. The places you will pass by is just a beautiful proof of the greatness of Al Bari. It was so beautiful, it was so green and lively, imagine that matching up with the exquisite shades of the sky.
I must say, I failed on my first attempt on the masajid counting, and the beauty of nature was to blame. Ma sha Allah.
As we entered the city, after a four-five hours travel, I was stunned at the scene I saw, there were a lot of sisters in niqaab and hijab and everywhere you would look you would see them, and the brothers were all in thobes, I only saw like 5 boys in casual wear as we reach my host family’s place.
My host family’s place (my brother-in-law’s family – Pangarungan-Mindalano family) owned this beautiful house along the lake, I couldn’t stop myself from going out to take a picture of this beautiful body of water (you can see the pic on the gallery below). It was just amazing, not to mention that they prepared such delicious food! May Allah Azza Wa Jall bless their family. Amin
After we had the lunch, we went to the other place where I was to stay for the whole duration of the workshop, and we passed by this gigantic masjid, so my eyes were all big because I loved every architectural detail of it. Ma sha Allah.
I was ecstatic.
My heart was jumping in happiness. ma sha Allah.
My sister was waking me up and telling me it’s Fajr, the place where I stayed gives you the ambience of dhikr, as every person there was offering the 5 daily prayers. May Allah Azza Wa Jall keep them all steadfast in the deen. Amin
My cousin Hayah has given me my milk can and sister Rahma (my little beautiful sister from Marawi) was already there to pick me up.
Then again, Marawi never seizes to amaze me, the path we took to MSU (where I was to teach) was what they called Heaven Forest, and it was! Subhan’Allah. It was so beautiful, like you’re actually in Europe.
As we went down from the car, the little brother of sister Rahma helped us carry the boxes, and because Hayah and I wanted to help, we carried the other box and when his little brother saw us, he recited the ayah “men are the protectors and maintainers of women” in Arabic (if I heard him correctly) and told us to not carry the box and let him carry it for us.
That was a simple act, but the impact was very profound. I was astonished. There really are good men left in this dunya. Alhamdulillah.
As we entered the place, a cute jolly sister came to welcome us, she saw me and started to stutter as she was saying something, until I found out she was Iman, a very kind daughter of sister Sandra who was such a supportive and wonderful mother like sister to me. She was very excited as I was to meet her in person. Alhamdillah Allah made us meet each other in this dunya and I pray we meet again soon and if not then in Jannah. Amin
Everything was set up and the participants were filling up every seat.
Then we begun the workshop.
As I was telling them the history of Arabic Calligraphy and the bits and nuts of it, I could see the excitement and determination that they all had. They were very keen to learn it.
The experience was so overwhelming that I ended up giving out tears during the two consecutive workshops, I loved seeing such sisters with such beautiful values and determined hearts to learn such a sacred art. Alhamdulillah.
It was so fun telling them about the calligraphy tools as well as showing them the books I have carried with me to serve as an inspiration for all of them.
The workshop was held twice to two different groups, one for July 26 and the other for July 27.
Some of the highlights:
July 26, 2015 (1st batch)
• I will never forget sister Jamaliah, as she was the clown of the group. She was so jolly and funny. May Allah Azza Wa Jall keep her happy. Amin. She told me she will do a workshop for me on how to speak in Maranao. ma sha Allah. (very looking forward for it)
• I finally met my Ate Jam, who was such a humble person, she is hafidha with such a beautiful character. She met me with the most loving hug. Alhamdulillah. I pray I get to meet her again very soon. in sha Allah.
• Sister Johana told me that her intention was to come to learn for art’s sake, but after the lecture, she said that now she wants to learn it for the sake of Allah. This was the most moving thing I have been told. May Allah Azza Wa Jall increase you both in ‘ilm and amal sister Johana.
• Sister Fatimah told me how Allah Azza Wa Jall guided her to attend the workshop, as she was planning to attend another but Allah guided her to come and attend my workshop instead. I was greatly moved and motivated by her. May Allah Azza Wa Jall forgive her and grant her peace in her life. Amin
• Sister Hayanissah kept saying she also wants to be a calligrapher like me and wallah I will keep making du’a Allah gives her the tawfiq to do so. in sha Allah.
• Sister Rainnie was such a humble sister, just the other day I found out that she was into english calligraphy but she came to the workshop as she told me Arabic calligraphy was and has been always her first love. Alhamdulillah.
• Sister Shieha who came all the way from the other city just to meet me and attend the workshop.
• The Ninja Army, the sisters who were wearing niqaab that day, they were all beautiful.
• The group of the sisters who were very beautiful in their dresses, you all know who you are.
July 27, 2015 (2nd batch)
• Sister Iman who picked me up and invited me to have dinner with her and the rest of the volunteers, I took her as my baby sister, and very looking forward on meeting her in Malaysia in the next few days. in sha Allah
• Sister Wasima, I was so touched to have seen her attend the workshop, and was very touched too when she told me that she learned a lot about the Sahabah from the lecture. Alhamdulillah.
• Sister Khairany who came all the way from a far city to meet me and attend the workshop.
• I finally met Johana who was as humble as everyone else, and gave me such a good talk on her experiences and plans for the bookstore. may Allah Azza Wa Jall make it easy for you ukhti. Amin
• Sister Yasmina, the beautiful mint colored hijabi, who gave me such a good talk about how they are experiencing dawah in their city, you are an inspiration and I pray Allah Azza Wa Jall keeps you firm and steadfast in the deen. Amin
• The sisters who gave me such a good laugh when they started making sentences out of the letters. “Waw I’m so Sad.” May Allah bless you all. Amin (You all know who you are)
• The rest of the akhwaat that day, I love you all for the sake of Allah. Amin
But the most touching part of this travel was when the akhwaat gave me a beautiful handmade box with little notes inside it, it was one of the most heart warming gifts I have ever received. Alhamdulillah.
At the end of the workshop, I was invited to a dinner from the Mamainte family, the mother of Iman, who was such a humble sister. Finally I met her, Sister Sandra, the food was amazing, and we had a short but fruitful conversation. I pray your little daughter finishes her hifdh as soon as possible. May Allah Azza Wa Jall bless you and your family. Amin.
This wraps up all my experience from the workshop.
I gave my last hug to sister Rahma the next morning as we bid goodbye from each other. She left with a smiling heart and I was left with a heart full of love and gratefulness.
I left the city with a longing heart to come back.
And as I travelled back, I was finally able to do the masjid counting, and subhan’Allah. We counted 165 masajid along the way. May Allah Azza Wa Jall bless this country. Amin
My sincerest thanks to Sister Rahma and Brother Mus’ab who was very accommodating and made my stay really wonderful. May Allah bless you both. Amin
To my host family, the Pangarungan-Mindalano family, to my Ina Naquisha, Ate Niya, Ate Rhocs, Kuya Amir, Kuya Amin, Auntie Rasmia, Auntie Potri and Uncle Mayor and Ate Wilma, you all were beautiful. May Allah grace you with mercy and love always. Amin.
To my sister and my brother-in-law, Zohora and Kamar, I will treasure and always cherish every moment you have spent with me. I pray Allah strengthens your love for each other each day and grant you both the highest ranks of Jannah. Amin
To my cousin Hayah, thank you for accompanying me on this great journey. May Allah bless you.
To my family, my dad, I love you and Jazakallahu Khayran for giving the permission that I could go travel and teach. May Allah elevate your rank to the highest ranks of Jannah and forgive you your sins. Amin.
My beloved Connect Institute, thank you for making this possible. Alhamdulillah
With love and prayers,
Sister Z <3
Jazak Allahu Khayran for viewing.
Kindly remember my mother Allah yer7ama in your ad’iyah. May Allah Azza Wa Jall have mercy on her soul and grant her Jannatul Firdaus. Amin