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Interview with Ms. A. Zahra

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Bismihi Ta’ala

Name: A. Zahra

Commenced hawza studdies in: July, 2011


What advice would you offer to those who are thinking of enrolling at the hawza?

The following is my personal opinion only and does not reflect the views of any hawza or any member of it.

The most important thing you need to do is to know yourself and to have a vivid understanding of your self, your mind, and your present & potential abilities. Do you really have it in you to start a new life, leaving behind your family, friends, and the comfort of your home to undertake something different and meaningful? You should know that if your pursuit really is learning you should enter the hawza with an empty vessel (mind) i.e you should leave any prejudices or culturally induced beliefs at the doorstep. No matter how many books you might have read or religious classes or lectures that you may have attended, try to enter the hawza environment as though you are about to learn about Islam for the very first time. This will help you have a richer learning experience and learn about Islam from a different perspective or new eyes.

Make sure that the motivation behind your coming to the hawza is only your own self. If you’re merely applying to the hawza because it is your mother’s, father’s, brother’s, uncle’s or aunty’s wish that you become an aalim/aalimah, there are slim chances of you reaching their desired goal- because it is not yours, it is theirs. Make sure that the pulling force behind the intention of joining the hawza is your own desire to acquire knowledge and self-building.

You will need to improve on your social skills through the course of your education because you will need to interact with the society in the longer run and in the shorter run live and interact with a lot of different people from different countries and cultures. Try to be open-minded about other peoples’ way of living, way of dressing, eating, food preferences and other lifestyle peculiarities and try seeing things from another’s perspective. A useful skill to develop would be to see one thing from different view points. You will find this positively impacting your own views of religion.

You will need to actively be in touch with world news (political and social) as it is possible you find yourself cocooned in the hawza setting limited only to Islamic knowledge and disconnected with the world outside. Make sure you subscribe to various news articles/ videos about events taking place in the world from your phone’s internet.

Your journey of learning, would be more fruitful and personally enriching if you’ve had at least some experience of secular studies in college before entering the hawza. Also, it helps to be realistic in the goals you want to achieve. You will need to prepare yourself for challenges and not break into pieces on being confronted by setbacks. Prepare a time-table and manage your time well. Be around people you find you have common thoughts and ideas with. This can be difficult at first (making friends/getting along with people) but will get better after the passing of time.

On an end note, it can be the most personally fulfilling experience that holds the potential of changing your whole life- if you want it to.

All the best.

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