Sitting in Union Station, waiting for my ride to pick me up after having just arrived after a 3 hour train ride, munching on my sandwich on the first day of the new year, I heard someone saying above me, “she’s eating a sandwich.” I looked up to find an NBC 5 cameraman holding a huge vidcam on his shoulder and a reporter ready with a microphone in hand. Once they met my eyes, they asked if I minded being interviewed about New Year’s Resolutions. I cringed at the thought of being on TV, exhausted from travel, and just wanting to get home. I wasn’t sure if I should agree to do the interview or not, and as I began to refuse, I smiled and remembered the content of the past week…
My friend Gigi and I had just traveled together and gotten back from one of the most transformative trips of my life, the MAS Tarbiya and Ilm Camp (TIC 2013). Why was this such a profound experience? Because my soul went on an faith uplifting journey. TIC was a spiritual revival, a renewal, a rejuvenation, an iman (faith) high, a reminder of what it meant to live.
It was a bootcamp for the body, mind and soul where we began our packed scheduled day at 4am and did not actually sleep til midnight or later. The bathrooms were not in the cabins, so we had to trek in the cold night to wash up and shower. We were disciplined with physical exercises in the beautiful mountainous countryside, cleaning chores, sports, and team building activities; we enriched our minds with several lectures, workshops, activities, and hands-on presentations; and fed our spirits by praying the 5 daily prayers, tahajjud and making athkar sabah/masaa (morning and evening remembrance of God). There was time for ta3aruf (meet and share) where I met some beautiful souls from all over the country and made life-long friends. I was astounded by the wonderful management of camp leaders who possessed a perfect balance between friendliness and order. They were very organized, efficient, and productive. May Allah reward them, the cabin leaders, and those who worked behind the scenes for making such a successful and memorable camp.
An ayah resonated with me from camp was:
|قُلْ إِنَّ صَلَاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ|
“Say: Behold my prayers, and [all] my acts of worship [devotion,sacrifice], and my living, and my dying, are for God [alone], the Sustainer, Lord of all the worlds…” [Al-Anam 6:162]
|Transliteration||:||Qul inna salatee wanusukee wamahyaya wamamatee lillahi rabbi alAAalameena|
Each cabin took a part of the ayah to say out loud to become a cohesive beauty. After arriving home from camp, I made it a point not to go back to my average life prior to the camp. I wanted to apply everything I learned from my trip and keep up the spiritual high. Isra and I agreed that this ayah will be our theme for the month that will help us begin the new year doing everything for the sake of Allah. This ayah also helped me form my resolutions that NBC 5 asked me about.
After the camp, Gigi and I wanted to relive the TI camp moments, so she spent the night in my home and then I travelled back home with her to Urbana-Champiagn, and we spent 3 days talking endlessly about our camp memories. On New Year’s eve, Gigi and I sat on her couch and wrote a letter to ourselves. We were not allowed to reread it or edit. We wrote advice to ourselves, things we learned from our trip, places we hope to be in one year, goals we hope to accomplish and whatever came to our minds. We sealed it and dated it to open in one year: Dec 31, 2014 . We proceeded to write down our 2014 goals.
My number one goal for this year is to try to attain consistency in everything, especially the simple things, such as sleeping/waking up on a routine time, reading more, memorizing Quran on a consistent time schedule, getting work done at a certain time, etc. Consistency is not an easy task. Reality set in, deadlines approached, and time was limited. However, this ayah gave me a jumpstart in applying that goal in all that I do. It started out by allowing me to place my intention for a higher Being, reminding me that life is short and that the direction I seek to follow is illuminated by the Lord of the all the Worlds, the Sustainer. While I endeavor to be consistent, I know He will always be there to Sustain me and I pray that we all devote our prayers, worship, living, and dying for something greater than ourselves. Ameen.
As I looked up and whipped out my notebook, the cameraman and reporter smiled at each other, then pointed the camera to my travel-worn face. To view my response, click here.
To read Isra’s part 1, click here.
© 2012 TeaPromise. All Rights Reserved.