Al-Hidayah 2016 – Future Leaders

Minhaj-ul-Quran International (UK)’s Al-Hidayah project team arranged Al-Hidayah 2016 with a relevant and much needed focus on developing future leadership. This year’s event was the first three-day event since Al-Hidayah 2010, and the objectives of the event were geared towards nurturing and inspiring future leaders from amongst the youth.

Keele University in North Staffordshire, England was chosen as the venue for the event, set in 600 acres of scenic greenery and with all accommodation, facilities and events on campus, it provided the ideal environment for three days of learning and development.

It is also worthy of note that this was Minhaj-ul-Quran International’s first three day residential event of this size organised anywhere in the world outside of Pakistan, without the direct participation of the founder of Minhaj-ul-Quran International, his eminence Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri. However, the event was presided over by the main keynote speaker Shaykh Dr Hussain Mohi-ud-Din Qadri (President of the Minhaj-ul-Quran International), eloquently and with an ideal blend of knowledge, inspiration and motivation.

Planning for this event commenced in October 2015 and the Al-Hidayah Core Committee and Functional Teams were co-ordinated by the President of Al-Hidayah Dr Zahid Iqbal and General Secretary Sister Misbah Wahid. Core committee members included Sisters Khadijah Atkinson, Naheed Syed, Tahira Afzal, Humaira Ali and Sweba Majid, as well as Brothers Abdul Qadeer Rauf, Tanweer Rauf, Abbas Aziz, Khurram Shahzad, Qasim Rauf, Moazzam Raza (Sec General Executive Council of Minhaj-ul-Quran UK), Muzammel Rafiq and Asif Habib Malik.

Functional teams were set up for matters related to the venue, registrations, publicity & promotion, programme content, finance and post Al-Hidayah activities. Over the 10 month period leading up to August 2016 and the event date, a concerted effort was made to raise awareness of the event and its objectives via social media and other areas of publicity and promotion. Notable assistance was obtained from Br Jawed Iqbal Tahiri and others in this regard.

The organisers arrived at the venue on the Friday before the event to make all necessary arrangements for a seamless start and ensure arrangements were co-ordinated effectively with the venue providers.

Day One:

The event commenced on Saturday 27th August 2016 with admissions processed on arrival separately for brothers and sisters by the registrations team within the university’s Chancellor’s building. Arrangements were made for refreshments and exhibition stands were set up with personnel and material from Minhaj Dawah Project (MDP), Minhaj Welfare Foundation (MWF), Minhaj Publications, Minhaj Youth League (MYL) and Minhaj Sisters. Each participant was given accommodation in individual rooms with full en-suite facilities all within 5 minutes of the main event areas on campus. A three course lunch was served at12:30pm with more than 220 participants present as well as guests and workshop consultants. Following Salat Al-Dhuhr, all participants gathered in the Westminster Conference Hall and the Presiding guest Dr Hussain Mohi-ud-Din Qadri (President of the Minhaj-ul-Quran International) arrived along with Shaykh Hamad Mustafa al-Qadri arrived to be warmly welcomed with a standing ovation.

Dr Zahid Iqbal commenced proceedings by welcoming the guests, speakers and attendees of Al Hidayah 2016 and running through the background and reasons for organising this year’s events. It was also confirmed that Al-Hidayah would now be holding an annual residential event in the UK with the next year’s event scheduled to take place at Keele University from 26 – 28 August 2017.

Qur’anic recitation was made by Hafiz Ahmed Raza (London), and Sahibzada Hammad Mustafa al-Qadri recited a Nasheed in praise of the Holy Prophet Muammad (peace and blessings be upon him). Br Hifzul Chaudhary (President of the Muslim Youth League – MYL) gave a brief and concise presentation of the progress and plans for MYL in the UK.

Then the presiding guest and main keynote speaker Dr Hussain Mohi-ud-Din Qadri delivered the first of his three inspiring talks to Al-Hidayah 2016 on the subject of ‘Islam & Spirituality’. He captured the audience’s concentration throughout the talk by maintaining a simple and systematic flow of the subject matter, covering subjects such as ‘Objectives for attendance at Al-Hidayah’, ‘What is the objective of life ?’, ‘What is love for Allah and indeed what is love ?’, ‘Nearness to Allah cannot be gained without love for Allah and the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)’, ‘Allah’s love starts via sincere repentance’, ‘Servants must work to end their bad habits so that they will move closer to Allah’, ‘Islam requires humility and piety and a negation of arrogance in order to achieve spiritual elevation’. The first keynote talk left an amazing and refreshing impression on attendees, many of whom had not listened previously to any talk of this type from Dr Hussain Mohi-ud-Din Qadri.

Attendees were so motivated by the first talk from Dr Hussain Mohi-ud-Din Qadri, that they rushed onto the next workshop and group sessions without any air of tiredness or apathy. Many young participants commented how the talk had inspired them to participate actively in further activities within Al-Hidayah.

After a short break for tea/coffee and refreshments the first session of five concurrently run workshops commenced and attendees participated in workshops of their choice with great enthusiasm and dedication. The workshops included ‘Free Thinking’ by Shout Out UK, ‘Debating Skills’ by Shout Out UK, ‘Future Leaders: Could it be you?’ by Dr Zahid Iqbal & Sister Khadijah with ICA UK, ‘Social Media: How to make effective use of it’ by Shaykh Rehan Ahmed Raza Al-Azhari and ‘Photography: Starting your visual journey’ by Faisal Mirza (Netherlands). Participants at the workshops ranged from the youngest 7/8 year olds to the oldest 67 years of age, and all showed equal enthusiasm and excitement at being given a genuine challenge to learn practically in a dedicated environment.

A three course dinner was served after Salat Al-Asar to all participants and following Salat Al-Maghrib, all participants moved on to the Keele Hall venue for the first of the two spiritual evenings arranged at Al-Hidayah 2016. The ‘Nasheed Night’ commenced with an introduction by Br Hussain Ali (Gen Secretary MYL UK), and after recitation of the Holy Qur’an, world renowned Nasheed artist Br Milad Raza Qadri recited many heart-touching Nasheeds and also kept the audience awake and fresh with his motivation and answers to most requests. The Nasheed night was an opportunity for the participants to relax and sit in a gathering of remembrance and respect for the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), late into the night. The Nasheed night ended with a motivational message by Br Milad Raza Qadri asking all attendees to value Islam and the contribution of Shaykh-ul-Islam in this century and actively participate in their great work by becoming members of the mission of Minhaj-ul-Quran. This was followed by prayers led by Sayyid Ali Abbas Bukhari (President of the Executive Council Minhaj-ul-Quran UK) and Salat Al-Isha. Follow this, all participants returned to their accommodation on campus for some rest before Salat Al-Fajar.

Day Two:

The second day of Al-Hidayah 2016 commenced on Sunday 28th August 2016 with breakfast followed by sports and physical activities until 11:30am. Sports included badminton, rounders and self-defence for sisters, as well as football and other activities for brothers. Badminton was arranged by Sister Naheed Syed, rounders was arranged by Sister Khadijah and the self-defence class was arranged by sister Tahira Afzal with Charmaine Thompson providing all training. Br Muzammel Rafiq and Br Adam Elahi arranged the football and brothers’ sports activities.

Just before midday, after a beautiful Qur’anic recitation by young prodigy Hafiz Sayed Amir (from London) and Naat Sharif from Br Shahid Iqbal (President of MQI South Zone), the presiding guest and main keynote speaker Dr Hussain Mohi-ud-Din Qadri delivered the second of his three inspiring talks to Al-Hidayah 2016 on the subject of ‘Islam on Serving Humanity’. Many relevant subjects were systematically covered, such as ‘What is Islam ?’, ‘How do we get close to Allah ?’, ‘Commonalities between religions’ and ‘Serving humanity’.

A convincing and rational conclusion was made that the attributes of Allah (swt) cause humans to develop work and professions as manifestations of these attributes. If individuals keep this connection with the attributes of Allah (swt) in mind then whether they are a doctor, teacher, police officer, lawyer or judge, they will all fulfil their jobs and professional careers with the ultimate goal of serving humanity. With the audience deeply involved in the talk and understanding the conclusion, Dr Hussain Mohi-ud-Din Qadri ended the session with reference to Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri only entering politics in order to serve humanity in accordance with the true teachings of Islam. When there are no human rights in a society, it is obligatory for people to stand up to obtain those human rights for people, therefore serving humanity for its betterment and for the pleasure of Allah (swt).

He ended this talk with clarification that to understand the true message of Minhaj-ul-Quran we need to understand what Allah (swt) wants us to do in this world. In Dr Hussain Mohi-ud-Din Qadri’s opinion, this is to serve humanity at large and not sit and concentrate only on prayer and meditation, when many poor and destitute humans are dying with injustice, hunger and a disregard for human rights.

A three course lunch was served at 1:00pm with more than 220 participants present as well as guests and workshop consultants. Following Salat Al-Dhuhr, the second session of five concurrently run workshops commenced and attendees participated in workshops of their choice, again with great enthusiasm and dedication.

After a short break for tea/coffee and refreshments a short session was arranged in the Westminster hall, including presentations from achievers and project representatives. These presentations included talks by Shaykh Adnan Sohail Al-Azhari (Project Manager Minhaj Welfare Foundation and representative of Minhaj College Manchester), Sister Rosina Nawaz (Minhaj Dawah Project) and Sister Tanzila Mehmood (Peace Education Program). The talks were inspiring and motivational for the audience, who were able to see what can be achieved within various forums and projects of Minhaj-ul-Quran, with the necessary drive and conviction.

Following this session, the third keynote talk was delivered by the Grand Mufti of Minhaj-ul-Quran International (UK), Mufti Sohail Ahmed Siddiqui Al-Azhari on the subject ‘Love for the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and the Islamic Creed’. Mufti Sohail started work in the UK and Europe more than 20 years ago and has developed a deep understanding and awareness of the theological and academic requirements of English speaking youth, and the mode of delivery most appropriate for particular audiences. He commenced the talk with a brief explanation of what love is and the significance of forming a relationship with the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and its connection with our faith (Iman).

Thereafter, he elaborated eloquently on the Qur’anic references advising people to seek Allah (swt)’s pleasure, forgiveness and mercy through the means and intercession of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). He further spoke in detail about emotions and love, with many examples from the lives of the blessed companions and how their love manifested in their most important actions, including the worship of Allah (swt) being incomplete without their pure and extreme love for the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). Moving towards his conclusion, he commented on how the blessed companions sacrificed everything in love of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), and how their sacrifices paved the way for the spread of Islam in earlier centuries.

He also reminded the attendees that their education is only effective if it also motivates them to help others and serve humanity. Islam encompasses many areas including education, welfare and social justice, which when all combined result in serving humanity and participating in political activities. The message of Minhaj-ul-Quran is that Islam is a complete way of life, and politics, humanitarian aid work etc. are all part of the Islamic creed. Groups calling themselves non-political are not covering all aspects of the Islamic creed, and are therefore painting a reduced or very narrow picture of Islam.

A three course dinner was served after Salat Al-Asar to all participants and following Salat Al-Maghrib, all participants moved on to the Keele Hall venue for the second of the two spiritual evenings arranged at Al-Hidayah 2016.

The ‘Qawwali Night’ commenced with an introduction by Br Adnan Sohail Al-Ahari, and was presided over by Dr Hussain Mohi-ud-Din Qadri, with special guests Shaykh Hammad Mustafa al-Qadri and Dr Raheeq Ahmad Abbasi. Following the introduction, Shaykh Hammad Mustafa al-Qadri recited a beautiful nasheed in Urdu, which was warmly appreciated by the audience. Qaiser Mehmood Qawwal and party of Bradford then commenced their performance, reciting many famous qawwalis in a very charged and spiritual atmosphere. The guests enjoyed the qawwalis and regularly motivated the audience to actively participate in the spiritual night. The qawwali rendition ended just before midnight and Qaiser Mehmood Qawwal Party were warmly appreciated with very encouraging words from Dr Hussain Mohi-ud-Din Qadri, before the final du’a was made and congregational Salat Al-Isha was arranged. Following this, all participants returned to their accommodation on campus for some rest before Salat Al-Fajar.

Day Three:

The third and final day of Al-Hidayah 2016 commenced on Sunday 28th August 2016 with breakfast followed by sports and physical activities until 11:00am. Sports included rounders and other activities for sisters, as well as badminton and football for brothers. Rounders for sisters was arranged by sister Khadijah and some other sisters. Br Abu Adam Sheerazi arranged the badminton for brothers and Br Muzammel Rafiq and other brothers arranged the football for brothers. A great surprise for participants on the day was the arrival of Sahibzada Hammad Mustafa al-Qadri in the football activity. Sahibzada Hammad actively participated playing competitive football with great enthusiasm.

From 11:30am the presiding guest and main Keynote speaker Dr Hussain Mohi-ud-Din Qadri arrived in the Westminster hall ready to deliver his third and deeply inspiring talk to the audience of Al-Hidayah 2016 on the subject of ‘The Philosophy of Minhaj-ul-Quran and its Application to Modern Times’. Prior to this talk commencing, Qur’anic recitation was made eloquently by the young Hafiz Sayyid Amir (London). Then Br Dawood Mehmood (MYL London) recited an emotional Nasheed in English, which captured the attention of the young audience. Sister Khadijah Atkinson and Br Rafiq Patel made brief presentations in respect of Minhaj Publications and the books available at discounted prices as part of Al-Hidayah 2016. Participants were encouraged to take advantage and purchase books in areas of their choice.

Dr Hussain Mohi-ud-Din Qadri then commenced the final talk with reference to a Qur’anic verse and the message of Allah (swt) to the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), that their every following moment is better than the preceding moment. This Qur’anic verse was then linked to a Hadith narrated by Hadhrat Ali (AS), that the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) advised that; ‘He whose two days are equal is a loser !’ This then leads to an understanding of why Allah (swt) wants individuals to strive towards constant improvement, development and evolution, rather than becoming ineffective, rigid and stagnant. So Allah (swt) is in favour of changing conditions and moral and spiritual evolution.

Dr Hussain Mohi-ud-Din Qadri then gave a very detailed and precise analogy of the historical development of Muslim thought including references to the Golden Era of Spain and Baghdad and their commanding positions in the world at their respective times. When this development of Muslim thought stopped and a rigid stagnant form of Muslim thought stepped in to control many areas of the Muslim world, Muslims lost their position in the world geographically, politically, economically and academically. Shaykh Hussain then elaborated on how Minhaj-ul-Quran under the leadership of Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri has revived this lost pattern of development of Muslim thought.

From the early 1980’s Minhaj-ul-Quran has worked on a philosophy of continual development and incorporated the latest and most efficient forms of communication to propagate its message of a balanced and authentic interpretation of Islam. Realising that the Madrassah form of education had stifled academic and communal development amongst Muslims, Shaykh-ul-Islam Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri introduced the concept of University education to cover the needs of both classical Islamic sciences as well as the modern subjects necessary for Muslim leaders to represent Islam in the changing world.

Despite criticism from rigid schools of thought, Minhaj-ul-Quran has continued to develop its revivalist approach to learning, producing Phd holders in many subjects who are able to represent Islam internationally and also address issues in many areas such as law, politics, economics, commerce, medical sciences etc. The talk ended with sincere advice for attendees to understand the philosophy of Minhaj-ul-Quran by joining this movement and living by the modern era. He also implored the audience to work for the hereafter, with sincerity and in preparation for our inevitable meeting with the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), for which we need to spend this life in preparation and become good human beings first, then progress academically and professionally wherever possible.

Dr Hussain Qadri thanked all attendees for participating in Al-Hidayah 2016 with such conviction and staying for three days in each other’s company. He also thanked the organisers of Al-Hidayah 2016 including Dr Zahid Iqbal (President Al-Hidayah) and Sister Khadijah Atkinson and the whole team for their efforts.

Dr Zahid Iqbal then thanked the Al-Hidayah 2016 organising committee and volunteers for their sterling efforts in arranging this event and also the management of Keele University for their most accommodating approach to facilitate all requirements. The event sub-titling team of br Jawed Iqbal Tahiri, br Rafiq Patel, br Hussain Ali and others were appreciated for consistently covering each lecture and providing easy to follow on screen notes for the audience. The video camera filming team from Minhaj TV, having travelled from France, were appreciated for their dedicated efforts to cover all talks, events and workshops, whilst the official photographers br Faisal Mirza (Holland) and br Faiz Alam Qadri (Norway) were also acknowledged for their assistance and tireless efforts throughout the event.

All young participants were then invited on stage to meet the guests for their encouragement and as reward for their patience shown during the event and stay. Dr Hussain Mohi-ud-Din Qadri then concluded with an emotional final supplication and advisory words for all. Lunch was served from2:00pm and the guests then met all participants before leaving Keele University at 3:00pm. The organising team of Al-Hidayah 2016 thanked all participants and completed necessary arrangements at the venue before departing. Al-Hidayah 2016 had been a thoroughly enjoyable and unforgettable experience for organisers, volunteers and participants alike. Dr Hussain Mohi-ud-Din Qadri had also afforded time for brief meetings and discussions with the Minhaj-ul-Quran UK Executive Council as well as both brothers and sisters representatives within the Al-Hidayah 2016 Core Committee and team members. All eyes are now on Al-Hidayah 2017, scheduled to take place at Keele University in August 2017.

[Report by Asif H. Malik]

Feedback & Testimonials:

All participants were given the opportunity to provide feedback, both critical and positive. All critical comments and suggestions will be taken on board and used as a basis for improving and evolving Al-Hidayah in the future. A very small selection of the many testimonials from attendees is provided below:

  • “Al-Hidayah 2016 - Future Leaders was an amazing event. The lectures delivered by Dr Hussain Qadri were exceptional and uplifting. Overall, it was a well-rounded event with engaging activities/ workshops and the experience has really helped me to develop into a better human being.”
  • “I had an amazing time, truly motivational and inspirational! The lectures were absolutely mind blowing!”
  • “I found the Al-Hidayah event most interesting and informative in many ways. Notably, the content of the lectures and workshops was excellent, also enhanced by good professional facilitation and good facilities in the rooms. Thank you!”
  • “The lectures were amazing!!! So much knowledge! Fantastic. Workshops were really great, interactive & inspirational. Nasheed night and qawwali night were spiritually uplifting Food was good especially the desserts! Sports activities were great and self defence was very useful!”
  • “The event was truly wonderful and the key lectures were inspirational. Across the board, ranging from the accommodation to the food and to the entertainment, the event was organised very well. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the event and really wish it had been slightly longer. The workshops enabled us to interact with fellow members and colleagues, and this enhanced the entire experience. The most important thing for me was that the real message and teachings of Islam were presented in a cogent and coherent manner, and left no doubt in one's mind that there is no Islam without the foundational principles of love and humanity. It is this vision of Islam that needs to be presented more than ever in these tumultuous times. Thank you once again to all of the organisers, who made this event a success and for creating a truly spiritual environment.”
  • “It was an uplifting, spiritual and well organised event. I would urge everyone to attend and judge for themselves and to feel the experience of unity and the future for Muslims within the West.”