On the 18th July 2014 Madina Institute SA hosted a youth evening at Darul Karaar Masjid, Wynberg. The 18th of July, also known as Mandela Day, coincided with the 21st night of Ramdaan – a night that may have been Laylatul Qadr, the night of the Shahaadah of Amir ul Mu’mineen, Ali Ibn Talib (May Allah ta’ala be pleased with him) The program was organized and presented by volunteers and students of Madina Institute – young individuals, striving to be closer to their Creator. The program director, Aboobaker Kalla (Ameer of the Madina Institute SA Usul Ud Din Class of 2014), together with Sidi Liyaqat Mugjenker (Project Manager of the volunteer team), ensured that the evening ran smoothly, keeping everyone interested and wanting more Alhamdulilah. After the introductions and opening Qira, Ustadh Isa Husayn (who is from Sweden, and part of the Usul Ud Din 2014 class) led a short beautiful Dhikr, calling on Allah ta’ala, Al-Lateef. Ustadh Isa explained that “when we call on Allah subhaanahu wa ta’ala by the name Lateef, it is The Subtle One, The Gentle One, the Kind One, so we asking Allah subhaanahu wa ta’ala to grant us His Lutf, in our hearts, to soften our hearts, and especially now, we asking Allah subhaanahu wa ta’ala to be gentle with us, in whatever hardships may befall us, that He is always gentle with us” Sidi Ahmad Deeb (who is from the USA, and part of the Usul Ud Din 2014 class) gave a beautiful Nasiha. His casual manner in which he explained, “We live in a time where religion itself is not seen in the right form…religion is not the very cool thing to be in…that’s just a fact…you don’t have to, you know, beat around the bush” opened up the hearts and minds of many young people, capturing everyone’s undivided attention. Ahmad asked the question “why did Allah give us Ramadaan?” and then explained that “Because it is our nature to fluctuate, to sometimes become lazy, maybe even to stagnate. So out of His Mercy, He gave us Ramadaan, the month in which we should exert the most amount of effort. Every muslim, whether religious or not, gets a little more serious in Ramadaan…Allah knows we will slip up, and if we do, He gave us these 10 nights…to gain His Mercy, His Forgiveness, to find yourself” He urged everyone to make the most of the last 10 nights of Ramadaan, saying “Finish strong…the things that happen in the middle, the slip ups, become no longer relevant…if you finish strong, you forget…but if you slip up, and you dragging your feet at the end of the race, you feel like it’s a waste.” He also reminded everyone that good company is very important. It makes you try harder to be a better person and to do more ibadah and serves as a motivation and encouragement when you feel you are slacking. Another thing many youth struggle with is feeling connected to Allah ta’ala. Ahmad ended his Nasiha tackling this very simply, explaining that we always say one should have ‘khushu’ which we often translate as being able to concentrate or focus in prayer. “ How do we develop ‘khushu’?”, he asked, and then explained, “What it really means is Awe of Allah….they say dance like no one’s watching….one quick tip for prayer….pray like no one’s watching….pray as if no one’s there – and then it’s just you and your thoughts. And then you have two options – you either deal with your thoughts, or you just let them keep flowing…. Deal with your thoughts, what is keeping you from focussing? Reflect on what it means to say ‘Allahu Akbar’….what does it mean to say ‘Allah hears the one who praises Him’ ” With Ahmad’s words still fresh in everyone’s minds, Hafith Abdullah Francis lead the Qiyaamul Layl, his beautiful voice leaving everyone feeling calm, content and connected to Allah ta’ala Alhamdullilah. Hafith Abdullah Francis is from Mitchell’s Plain Cape Town, and also part of the Usul Ud Din Class of 2014. The Qiyaamul Layl was followed by meditation facilitation by Sarwar Nassiry (who is from the USA, and part of the Usul Ud Din 2014 class). Last year Sarwar spent some time in Tarim, Yemen and has a blog ‘Experience Meaning’ where he promotes meditation of Qura’nic Ayahs. Sarwar explained that in many other faiths, meditation is used to clear one’s mind, and empty one’s head. As a muslim, mediation can be used to control one’s thoughts. He compared it to an untrained horse, which runs wild – explaining that it’s important to be able to rein in our thoughts, and prevent them from running, so that we may develop consciousness of our Lord at all times. Sarwar explained, based on what he was taught by Shaykh Muhammad Mendes (Director of Madina Institute USA), that we should try and “knock from the inside”. He compared this to being inside a car on a very cold night, where you cannot clear the windscreen by simply wiping the outside – you have to put the defrost or demist on – which works silently, with no one really being aware that is working, improving visibility dramatically. He advised that we need to shake up our ‘inside’ and awaken our spirit. The meditation was simple – close your eyes, realise nothing exists without Allah ta’ala, accept that everything we experience is the manifestation of His attributes, and say Bismillahi Rahmani Raheem, not with your tongue, but with your heart. It was a simple instruction with a magnificent effect MashAllah. The program ended soul stirring qasa’id by Sidi Safdar Ali Ajmoodien and the’ Voices of Madina’ after which everyone enjoyed pizza and drinks Alhamdulillah. The program was a bit longer than the traditional “67 minutes of doing good on Nelson Mandela’s birthday” but Alhamdulillah, the feedback was that the timing was perfect! Everyone left the masjid smiling, feeling spiritually uplifted, the promise of “finish strong” firmly in the hearts of many – ready to tackle the last days of Ramadaan!