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As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh,

Albania: A trip that left me inspired!

We are all aware of the Islamic concept of we plan & The Almighty plans, we think and The Almighty decides, we attempt and The Almighty does.

My trip to Albania gave me a good reminder of this fundamental Islamic belief. I was of the notion that I was invited to Albania to witness first-hand the legacy of communism and decades of total religious depravation, report back on my observations to the South African Muslim community and offer religious advises and inspiration to the Muslims of Albania.

It was only a few hours into the journey when the realization hit me that Allah Ta’aala had brought me to Albania so that I could learn and be the recipient of inspiration! Yes, the Albanian Muslim community still has a long journey ahead in terms of securing basic knowledge of Deen, developing religious infrastructure and shaping religious identity.

However, the character they display, their enthusiasm and sacrifice in pursuit of religious knowledge, their humility, zeal to practice on whatever they have learnt and selflessness despite constrained circumstances is a necessary reminder for those of us who may possess more knowledge and come from a background of stronger religious infrastructure but have forgotten these basic and core values of our Deen.

I was further inspired by the dedication and professionalism with which the Rahma Mercy team serve the Deen in Albania. Their achievements and ongoing commitment is indeed commendable and worthy of emulation.

I have travelled to a number of countries for a variety of reasons, but hardly has a short trip to any country left me so touched, humbled and inspired. Their hospitality is indeed profound and their projects are pioneering in nature. My Duas are ongoing for all Deeni efforts in Albania

– Shaykh Sulaimaan M.Ravat – Presenter – Radio Islam International, South Africa

I always looked at the country of Albania on the World Map and wondered what this country would be like in terms of people and culture. Moreover, how much the religion of Islam was practiced and are there any institutes imparting basic and higher Islamic knowledge after the long communist suppression?
A wish came true and a dua was answered when The Almighty granted me the opportunity to experience this part of paradise on earth for myself in October 2016. I was totally taken aback by the natural beauty of this Balkan country. Mountains, rivers, streams, farms, forests and Masjid minarets everywhere to be seen. Fresh air, sweet fruits, authentic coffee and the simple but sweet people makes this place so serene and spiritual.
I was introduced to Rahma (Mercy) last year and was totally amazed to see the astounding work they are doing in Albania. They have adopted this country as their own and have given the poor children of Albania more than they would perhaps give their own children in terms of love, education, spirituality, financial aid and health.
The Rahma Academy is a state of the art masterpiece that vies with any modern-day school and caters for the schooling of hundreds of underprivileged children. I heard a young girl at the school saying “the teachers understand us”, rather than the cliché “we understand our teachers” which speaks a lot about the bond and care that exists.

More than a decade ago I was involved in opening Maktabs in West Africa and visiting the Maktabs in Albania refreshed these emotional feelings and truly took me down memory lane.
Humble children chanting our Creator’s name in simply constructed buildings that are only reached by four wheel drive vehicles by crossing dangerous cliffs and streams truly brought tears to my eyes. These lovely children found their belonging again and a reconnection with their Creator after half a century of deprivation by the communist rule.

Every day of my journey in Albania was only getting more intense and just when I thought I had seen it all the next agenda on the tour unfolding left me breathless.
We visited few homes in the high mountains to deliver some Aid. However more than I think we helped them, they helped us in understanding simplicity and happiness. A 90 year old man carrying his wife on his back everyday up the steep hills and an old Muedhin walking for an hour to give Adhan in a Masjid reduced us to tears. The most enjoyable part of our trip was a special presentation held for us by the students of Rahma Mercy. They gave speeches, sang nasheeds in several languages and exhibited their confidence in the most amazing way.
The Prophet (Salallahu Alayhi Wasallam) said “Before the day of Judgement the best possession of a man will be his flock of sheep in the mountains.” There could not be any place befitting this hadith more than the mountain peaks of Elbasan dotted with Masjid minarets.
Albania we are proud of you! Rahma Mercy students we are proud of you! Rahma Mercy Team we are proud of you!

– Mufti Zeeyad Ravat – Pillars Of Guidance Community Centre, Melbourne, Australia

Alhamdulillah, I had the opportunity to travel to Albania as a special guest of Rahma Mercy in January 2016. Initially I had excused myself due to multiple engagements but subsequently acceded to the request and honestly speaking, I have no regrets. A unique journey in many ways.Although the visit itself was merely three days, but it was jam packed with activity and experience.

It would be no exaggeration if I were to say that every venture was a highlight in its own way. Be it visiting the state of the art Academy situated in the heart of Elbasan, or participating in the distribution of food hampers for those living below the bread line or being part of the soil turning ceremony for the building of a new Masjid.

However, something that surely left an indelible impression in my mind was the warmness with which we were received at the Jumma Masjid. The atmosphere was electrifying. Young and old had converged. In fact, I can still vividly recall delivering my address to that congregation which was followed by a translation in the vernacular language by the talented Shaykh Jamaal.

Yet again, if there is one single thing that would live with me, it was surely the Makaatibs established by the Rahma institute in the rural areas. The passion of the learners, despite the age disparity amongst them and lack of adequate resources is most remarkable and enviable. It is a rare sight to find an elderly woman (80) sitting alongside an eight year old in a common class, learning the Quraan.

Rahma Mercy has surely made inroads in to Albania, impacting the lives of thousands and gradually changing the face of communism which dominated the region for half a century.

May the Almighty reward each one proportionate to his/her commitment and make it possible for all the projects undertaken to reach fruition. Ameen

– Shaykh Sulaiman Moola (South Africa)

I begin in the name of Allah the Almighty.For some time now I have been hearing about the work of Rahma Mercy. Time and again I would get an inclination to visit Albania and see the work first-hand. Recently I got the opportunity to visit Albania and to be honest what I witnessed had exceeded my very own expectations.

The organisation has opened masaajid, madaaris and schools in many different locations. They provide relief to the poor and needy.

For the work they have achieved, I would like to congratulate Maulana Khalil and his team from the bottom of my heart. I have hopes in the team that if they remain steadfast and continue to do this work, there will be a positive change in the region.

May the Almighty Allah grant his pleasure to the team and give them the ability to continue doing this work with sincerity. Aameen

– Shaykh Ibrahim Tarapuri (Leicester, UK) – (briefly translated from an Urdu script)

Albania! Rahma Mercy! Subhanallah, where do I begin? Words cannot express what the eyes have seen, the joy, excitement and warmth the heart has experienced. Alhamdullilah.My initial visit was in September 2013 as part of a special delegation led by Maulana Khalil Patel of Leicester, representing the Al Imdaad Foundation at the opening of a world class academy – Rahma Academy, Elbasan – in a land many have forgotten, a land which once produced some great scholars, a people that persevered to protect their Imaan and Islam during the dark days of communism.

The work carried out by Rahma Mercy, that I witnessed and that special feeling of joy one cannot describe, made me envious and somewhat lament and question myself: “Why have I not been part of this great work in this beautifully landscaped land all these years?”

A land where almost all masaajid were destroyed, madaaris shut down and the basics of deen not allowed to be practised, Allah had chosen Maulana Khalil Patel and the Rahma Mercy team to revive Imaan and Islam in various ways, Alhamdulillah.

In January 2016 I once again had the good fortune of visiting Albania with Shaykh Sulaiman Moola and the Al Imdaad Foundation delegation to once again witness the magnificent work carried out in the form of the establishment of new masaajid, the makaatib, after school Islamic studies and Quran programs, the widow and orphan aid programs, the monthly welfare poor and needy distributions with the highlight having witnessed a young 15 year old student complete the entire Quran (HIFZ).

What an achievement for a community that could not own a copy of the Quran or worship Allah for more than half a century.

The level of professionalism, the standard and quality of the text books, the dedication of the teachers, the level of tajweed, the cleanliness of the Academy and resources provided by Rahma are of such a high standard to a truly deserving and appreciative community.

The visit had just reignited my strong desire to want to do more for this community and happily encourage all those who wish to be part of some great work being carried out in this part of the world with the hope that Insha Allah, through the blessing of these activities a new generation of upright youth, proud and practising Muslims will be the future leaders of this amazing country InshaAllah.

On behalf of the Al Imdaad Foundation we say Jazakallah Khair to Rahma Mercy for allowing us the opportunity to be part of this noble rewarding work.

May Allah grant us sincerity and acceptance. Aameen

– Shaykh Burhaan Mehtar (Australia)

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