Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave” – this was one of the first traditional sayings to be taught to me, it was always the largest poster on the wall at Madrasah and something greatly instilled in me, however, as I grew up I realised that though we are always taught this, as females we are somewhat limited when it comes to studying the Deen and this would often perturb me. All the schools around my locality were mostly built for males and if there were female facilities, even at the Masaajid, it was limited and I often felt cut off. Alhamdulillah, My parents had sent me to an Islamic school with intention of me continuing my Islamic Studies whilst still schooling and this always kept me motivated. After school, I simply refused to follow the mainstream idea of going to university (though this later changed) because I was sure that I wouldn’t fit in and all I had wanted was to attend an Islamic institution. I had researched a few institutes around and even sat in on a few classes but Allah had a bigger plan for me. I was a girl from a town that follows a more conventional and traditional school of thought, and here I was about to leave home before marriage to travel to a city completely foreign to me with the intention of studying the deen. The first day I got to Cape Town and walked into the institute, they were still busy with finishing touches yet I immediately felt at home. I knew that this was my place. Everyone was so warm and welcoming and not once did anyone allow you to feel out of place or miss home. It is because of this that today I can say that even though I am physically away from them, I truly love them for the sake of Allah and we are connected spiritually through love – as Shaykh Muhammad bin Yahya An Ninowy always says: “You are a part of Madina and Madina is a part of you.” There is a traditional saying that speaks of travelling and if one travels to attain knowledge then Allah facilitates an easy path for him to Jannah and this I pray for all my brothers and sisters who travelled not just to another city but across countries, leaving behind their families for the sake of Allah. People travelled far and wide to attain knowledge from the Beloved (Peace Be Upon Him) and even after his (Peace Be Upon Him) death, this continued as people travelled to acquire his (Peace Be Upon Him) sayings and teachings from the most authentic sources. It is through the hard work of those companions and lovers of the Beloved (Peace Be Upon Him) that today we are able to study the Deen more in depth using the authentic sources which the Nabi (Peace Be Upon Him) left behind for us and said that if we hold onto them then we shall never go astray – the Qur’aan and his (Peace Be Upon Him) Sunnah. This is what Madina Institute aims to do. The institute provides a much needed foundation for everyone and this shows in the logo itself which uses a book (the Qur’aan) as its foundation and the dome which symbolises the Sunnah as the manifestation of the Qur’aan and example for us to follow as it states in the Qur’aan: “indeed in the messenger of الله is an excellent exemplar” [33:21]. Through my experience in this city of rich heritage, great scholars, and love, I have found all I have ever needed. It opened my eyes – both physically and spiritually and has provided me with such great and beautiful insights that I now have the tools to navigate my way through life. Madina Institute has provided me with these tools through the study of subjects that were jurisprudential as well as subjects that penetrated my heart and I could implement in my daily life. Each day I returned home with something new. I would sit in class and cry at times just thinking of how blessed I am because Madina Institute offered me not only an environment of learning but an open environment of love and discussion and made me into a free-thinker as opposed to always regurgitating work in a school environment. As mentioned earlier, I was against the idea of mainstream studies but Madina Institute has helped me in realising that there should not be a separation of secular and Islamic knowledge because the two go hand-in-hand. We need to produce contemporary scholars who are able to integrate all that they do and teach others. This experience as a whole has helped me to live as a better Muslim because it has ignited a desire within me to do more, give more, and love more and it has also left me with a thirst to continue on this illuminating path of seeking knowledge. Madina Institute has definitely lived up to its motto of Education through Compassion leading to Illumination.   Mudassira Fareed Madina Institute Graduate 2014