I was thinking today about last year's winter break. I had just started my holidays, and was probably reminiscing about the year that had just passed. Although I'm somewhat surprised that I didn't write a blog entry, so I thought I'd write one this year. But not really for the purpose of setting resolutions, but rather to reflect. 

It was a fulfilling year in many respects...Alhamdulillah, I am really thankful to Allah for all that was provided to me. I want to acknowledge that nothing of what I fulfilled me this year was because of my efforts and work, but rather blessings.

2011 started off on a rough note. An unexpected loss of a friend, teacher Hanan at Calgary Islamic School, sent shock waves through the school the first morning back from the winter break. I remember the staff being in a trance, myself included, as it took a while to come to terms with the fact that life is unpredictable and those closest to us are not exempt from that. I remember her often and pray that she is resting in peace Inshallah and has been rewarded for being the most genuine and giving person I know. 

During last winter break, I had booked a two week volunteer opportunity in Morocco, and that came quickly at the end of March. It was the most valuable experience I'd been through, and having traveled alone there made it even more satisfying. I spent an incredible two weeks not only volunteering at a day centre for children with disabilities with very little to work with, but I experienced Moroccan culture and was immersed in the routines. I loved hearing the call to Adhan five times a day, being surrounded by fellow Muslims, eating halal food and yummy tagines and couscous, speaking French and learning Arabic, and so much more! Sure, I can back and my stomach was shot to pieces for a week, but it was worth that struggle!! I did manage to see Marrakesh after staying mostly in Rabat, but I'd love to go back and experience the rest of the country. Inshallah!!

Towards the end of the school year in May, I was Alhamdulillah promoted to the project coordinator position of the mental health project I had worked on as a therapist for three years. It was a huge chance to make a difference in the Muslim community and to try and fulfil some of the gaps that were present. I think this move snowballed a group of us to form an initiative during Ramadan to address the gaps: the Muslim Social Development Initiative (MSDI). Out of this initiative was born the resource fair idea that is now coming to fruition (inshallah) and CIMAP (Calgary Islamic Marriage Assistance Program). It also led a group of us to enter a video for the Mosquers contest. I am so thankful for the summer of 2011, it brought a group of us a lot closer and led to many new ideas bring launched. That, and I wrote my first article for the Western Muslim magazine. With lots of editing help of course, which I still need!!

Which brings me back to the Ramadan of 2011...arguably my most memorable :) I actually went to every Taraweeh prayer I could this year and honed in on the spiritual aspects of this month as much as possible. I forgot about the fear of fasting for 17 hour days and for the first time in my life (I am not ashamed to admit this!), I missed Ramadan when Eid came. I missed the hot summer nights at the NW Musallah, the voice of the Qari leading the prayer, the smell of sweat of the women praying next to me, and the sleep deprivation that I quickly got over. I can't wait for Ramadan again and inshallah I pray that we all live to experience another.

Work started again in September, which saw our team diving in head first and into a busy next four months. Between September and December, we were as busy as ever making new community partners, running events, and the day to day work that never ended! We finally ended up being fully staffed after hiring one more counsellor, and we are finally a complete team. It has never been this good!!! :)

And then CIMAP came, which made September exciting for most of us! The outcome was unknown but it has led us to plan another event Alhamdulillah. Despite some nay-sayers in the community (which there always will be!!), it's our intention that counts and we hope there is baraqah in future events too! CIMAP snowballed into a Calgary Herald article and a link with CBC Radio that has so far proved to be fulfilling. 

In October, a group of us were trained in an unveiling youth potential workshop by Bridges Canada, which catapulted our initiative of the resource fair. That same month, we made a road trip up to Edmonton for the Mosquers Awards, and while we didn't win, we were proud of having an idea and sticking with it. And we encourage others to do that as well. To take part in filming in a movie was the LAST thing I thought I'd do this year!

So what I take away from 2011 is that many experiences were interlinked and one could not have existed without another. Hence the reason why I strongly believe in fate and prayer. This year was definitely fulfilling, but what I took away from it more than other years was the spirituality it brought. That's a goal I've had every year, and this year it seemed to click more than others. 

For the upcoming year, I pray for the same...enhanced spirituality and faith. Peace and tranquility at home and around the world. Equality and justice. And the ability to support those who need it.

And of course, more smiles than tears and for all those reading this to remain happy, healthy, and in good faith.

Bismillah to 2012.


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