Thursday, 21 June 2012

iERA Seeds of change: Be the best of womankind

The event took place on 20 th May 2012 at Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, London. As you can see it took me almost a month to do a blogpost :-( I made quite a lot of notes and I am still typing them up whenever I get time. InshAllah hope to share the notes by end of this month :-) Please do bare with me :-) InshAllah so much to learn and implement bi-idnillah!

Alhamdulillah I felt really glad to be able to attend the event with my baby Yusuf. My husband looked after the older two kids with the help of mum-in-law alhamdulillah as I was off from 8 to 8 pm! I was really impressed by the way the sisters and some brothers organised the event mashAllah.

MashAllah they were very professional. A couple of days before the event, they sent an email providing all the information needed for the day i.e. timing, nearest stations, travel planner link, weather on the day, hijab protocol, etc. A couple of sisters were at the front entrance to give us a warm welcome. We were provided with bags which included quite a self-explanatory booklet about the event and programme for the day. At the end of the booklet, there was a personal action plan which I thought was quite a good idea mashaAllah. There were writing pads and pencils on each chair at “Mother & baby" room. I am not sure about the main hall.

They also had some sisters standing at the various train stations that sisters were coming from. There were some sisters at the lifts to direct sisters to their designated places i.e. main conference hall, crèche, mother and baby room. They had a designated place for buggies. I know from experience how messy it can get when mothers just leave their buggies and bags everywhere and these causes problem for other guests. The ‘Mother & baby' room was organised quite efficiently, chairs in the middle of the room (the screen was in the middle too but as it was quite a big one, mothers who chose to sit on the floor at the sides were able to watch the live programme comfortably), at one side there was a place for buggies as well as some chairs at the back for mothers to breastfeed. On the other side, they provided milk warmer and toys, bouncer, blankets for babies. That's why I chose to sit their on the floor and let Yusuf play there. Alhamdulillah it was really relaxing environment for everyone. They had plenty of activity stuff at the crèche.

Allocating a special place for mothers was really good. Sometimes as mothers of young children we miss out the lectures. Even if a mother wants to stay there but if the baby is making noise, the mothers end up getting some funny looks from our naive sisters :-(. If event organisers can allocate a special corner for mothers in the main hall, then everyone can enjoy the conference insha-Allah and the mothers won’t feel as conscious of disturbing others.

The volunteers were always there, occasionally asking whether we need tea, coffee. It was sold at a reasonable price of £1:50. Given the location of the event, the price was definitely a good one. They even provided lunch, although it wasn't mentioned to us when we bought the ticket so that was a treat alhamdulillah.

The lunch was a bag with a chicken roll, a bag of crisps, a chocolate bar, tissue and a fork and a bottle of water. I think it was great not to give a rice-based meal as it does have the potential to make us feel sleepy given we were there from 9 to 8. As you know unfortunately we tend to criticize food and don't feel content with what has been offered, they put a great reminder on the screen during lunch time showing “The next time you can't decide which type of food to eat, remember there is a mother in Somalia who can't decide which child to feed." Abu Hafsah

I think that was a briliant idea mashaAllah.

In the lavatories, they provided us with plenty of towels and there were water containers at each toilet. Surprisingly toilet floors were not wet :-) which is highly unlikely with any Muslim events. They also left a reminder at the back of the loo door "Cleanliness is part of imaan" There was actually quite a lot of beautiful reminders (from the Quran and the sunnah) through out the halls and the corridors.

When it was break for salah, the presenter told the first two rows to leave first and subsequently every other row followed them. I think this way, you can avoid the risk of overcrowding and steady flow of the sisters toward the prayer room. I remember at Twins of Faith event at Excel last year, the prayer room entrance was ridiculously blocked as people were not following the directions given by the volunteers. Even the volunteers were a bit out of their depth :-( There was a HUGE area for prayers but unfortunately a lot of the people ended up praying in front of the shops and corridors :-(

iERA sisters also allocated a sister to lead us for zuhr and asar salah at the mother and baby room. There was also a big prayer room for everyone else.

Around 6 pm, they had a 'Dance & hug' session which was quite refreshing. I think it would have been great if it was done at the start as an ice-breaker :-) MashAllah young sisters are most of the time, happy and friendly but sometimes our older sisters, mothers, and aunts need a bit of a push to get into sisterly love ;-)

I have taken quite a lot of notes. Mashallah the speakers were awesome. Even the booklet given by them is really good. I love reading it. Let me share some extracts from the booklet:

“We, the women of the Ummah are truly blessed. We have been freed from the shackles and narrowness of being slaves of created things and have been blessed to be slaves of the Creator alone, who knows us and loves what is best for us.
Millions of people around us are lost in darkness, they are searching for peace of mind, for meaning, for the fulfilment that we have. We meet them every day, we eat with them, we study with them, we work with them. How sad then if we do not fulfil our duty and share with them the light that we have – the light of Islam?”
Fatima Barkatulla iERA Lecturer & Instructor

The bubbly host Nida ul Iman : “ Three years ago I attended a conference unenthused, now three years later I stand in front of you welcoming you to iERA’s first International Women’ conference – “ Seeds of change: Be the Best of womankind”. So ladies, get ready to plant some seeds in calling the world back to allah. If we don’t meet again I pray we all meet in Jannah where we can see the fruits of the seeds we planted, insha-Allah.”
I can just keep quoting from the booklet but I want to share some notes I have taken from the talks insh-Allah. Some of the talks really hit me mashAllah. One of them was by Umm Raiyaan “Being a Muslimah- The power within” She talked about life and how we should lead our lives to please our Creator. Life is a collection of memories. What are your memories sisters? As we travel through the memory lane, there are some painful memories that we don’t want to remember and there are some which we cherish so much. She talked about a sister who had several miscarriages and wasn’t able to conceive. Instead of giving her mental support, her in-laws were abusive towards her. She was heart-broken but she made a dua to Allah Subhana Ta’ala asking “O Allah! Let me live my life for You!” MashAllah she has been a Qur’an teacher and lots of sisters have learnt the Qur’an, the word of Allah subhana ta’ala from her. As you can see, the sister decided to live her life to serve Allah subhana ta’ala with whatever skills she had mashAllah. Sometimes we have plans such as getting degrees, nice jobs, getting married, having children but we really need to understand that Allah Subhana Ta’ala got a plan for us . He knows what is best for us. We as Muslimahs need to trust Him and listen to Him. We all have the potentials to do a lot but the question is will we do it?

Umm Raiyaan runs a support organisation for revert sisters. You can find more at http://www.solaceuk.org/

Another talk which really caught my attention was Mothers of the Ummah: architectures of future by sister Umm Umar.

The essence of her talk was about the importance of mothers as the builders of our ummah. Motherhood is a skill. Mother is the factory of making a good generation. Her job is to make good human being. We all want good leaders for our Ummah but have we really sowed the seeds? As a mother, you are actually the window through which your child sees the world. Mothers need to make positive change from the very start of their pregnancies. They must instil the love of Allah subhana ta’ala from the very beginning. Who is your child’s role model? How is your child going to know his/her role-model? Life is too short. Do we really even have time to read all the fake, fairy stories to them??? Sometimes as parents we think there is not enough resources for our children. If you cannot find good Islamic resources, you can make up your own stories based on the Qur’an and the sunnah.

Tarbiyyah of nafsiyyah: Your child must know that you love him/her very much. Keep reminding them but they also need to know you love Allah subhan ta’ala more than them. Allah subhana ta’ala loves us more than our parents.

Tarbiyyah of Ibadah: We parents are the trainers for our children. By 7 they should be ready for worship. She mentioned very briefly tarbiyyah of Ilmiyyah and aqaliyyah but I couldn’t really take notes L

A quick summery of her talk was:

1. You as a parent need to have a clear goal i.e. what do I want them to be.

2. I need to be a good example

3. Constant guard of their behaviour

4. Warning

5. Make them repeat what you are saying so that it becomes a second nature for them

6. Maintaining enthusiasm.

The talk was kind of rushed so she couldn’t really explain the last couple of points.

One true story she told was quite amazing mashAllah. Once a Muslim kid was asked who is his role model. While most of the other kids just mentioned Superman, Spiderman as their role models, this boy said Bilal (RAW) is his role model. After the school the teacher asked the boy’s mum who Bilal is. MashAllah as you all know he was one of the great companions of our beloved prophet Muhammad (SAW). He was especially famous for doing the adhaan (call to prayer) in Medina mosque. I make dua to my Rabb that my children take these great Muslims as their role-models InshAllah. The mother of this boy read the true stories of prophets (AS) and companions during bedtime. No wonder the boy knew and fall in love with these great men of Islam.

Our life is too short to tell our precious children the fake & fairy stories. Umm Umar said that if we give them rubbish, then no doubt rubbish is going to come out of them. We are what we read and think about! Subhanallah her talk was very powerful mashAllah. She also said that we don’t really have any excuse such as there are not enough books on Islam. Just read them from the Quran and the sunnah ( Hadith books). Make your own simple stories based on the stories in the Quran and the sunnah. I wish she was given at least half an hour more to elaborate the points she mentioned. (The final part is here)

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