Set in the peaceful surroundings of The Redfield Centre in Winslow, it was the perfect place for reflection on the Taqwa of Allah (SWT). Families and individuals gathered for a 3-day escape from the routine of everyday life, to refocus, re-energise and realign their focus with Allah (SWT) before the month of Ramadan. The retreat started on Friday evening where attendees enjoyed a delicious Moroccan soup and Arabic rice after which a short lesson was held on the story of Al-Isra wal-Mi’raj (The night journey and the ascent). Coincidentally the retreat coincided with the 27th Rajab which is when this miraculous event is reported to have taken place.
This retreat wasn’t just about the Shaykh reading from the text, but involved lots of discussion around key points allowing students to learn the true understanding of the term Taqwa and how to recognize and implement Taqwa into their daily lives. These included:
- Taqwa derives from the root word to guard against/place a barrier between yourself and evil – refraining from what Allah (SWT) has prohibited and fulfilling the commandments of Allah (SWT), acts as a shield between humans and the wrath of Allah(SWT).
- Being in awe of Allah’s reverence – as humans we are a very small part of what Allah (SWT) has created and the sheer magnitude of creation should be admired.
- Taqwa is both inward and outward action.
Time for reflection was allocated throughout the day to ponder Taqwa, within the natural surroundings of the retreat. Congregational prayers and dhikr brought the attendees together for spiritual awakening and to strive for the rewards of religious actions within a group. An example of this was waking up before fajr to pray tahajjud, recite dhikr and supplicating to Allah(SWT).
Saturday was the main day of teaching and as well as those who were residential we had the benefit of day-trippers. Fresh breakfast and lunch were provided on site and dinner consisted of East African traditional food. After dinner the evening brought together adults and children alike to hear further the story of the Prophet’s (PBUH) ascension into heaven and how he (PBUH) was gifted the 5 daily prayers in the highest heavens. The children (and adults) got to hear about and memorize the Prophets (AS) who he (SAW) met on each heaven.
Sunday started later and after a hearty breakfast we continued learning about taqwa and how Allah usually refers to the people of Jannah as the Mutaqeen i.e. the people of Taqwa. We finished after lunch and headed out back into society taking with us hearts full of the remembrance of Allah and intentions to be amongst the muttaqeen.
Personally I have never attended an Islamic retreat before and I was pleasantly surprised with how much benefit I got from the short time together. It was great to spend my weekend; being thoroughly productive, learning throughout the weekend and participating in morning prayers and dhikr in a way I wouldn’t have the knowledge to do by myself. I enjoyed getting to know more of the local Muslim community and enjoyed getting to know the whole family. I hope to implement the knowledge I attained and make small and 2 consistent changes to my every day routine. I really look forward to attending the next one in shaa Allah. – Sister Laura