Head of Services Blog
Head of Services - Feb-March 2011
I will never forget February 2011. It's been a crazy experience; months of planning, emails, phone calls, late nights... all boiling down to 5 weeks of non stop speakers tours. Here is what happened.
Ok so the first two speakers were Shaykh Faraz Rabbani and Br Yusha Evans. Two absolutely amazing speakers. Shaykh Faraz began his tour in Cambridge, with a talk on Duty to Society, as part of his "Call of Duty" themed tour. Monday was particularly special because we were privileged to have not one, but two inspiring speakers- the other being shaykh Jihad Hashim Brown, who spoke on Duty to God. Shaykh Faraz then went on to talk at Nottingham, Wolverhampton and Birmingham City ISocs on the topics of Duty to one's mother, to Allah, and to the neighbour. Shaykh Faraz's humour, jokes and laid-back style really made this tour special. I still remember one anecdote about the NRAs (newly religious aunties) who "shoot religion at people"!
Simultaneously we were running Br Yusha Evans' tour which spanned 3 regions and 7 ISocs. MashaAllah the speaker was a machine; having hardly slept in the last 48 hours I picked him up from Heathrow at 11pm on Saturday night and made it to Bristol around 1am. At 9am the next morning he was ready to do a day long dawah course! Br Yusha spoke on topics such as his journey to Islam and the Price of Paradise.
As soon as these two tours were complete the next two began; no time to breathe! There was a mini scare with Shaykh Idris Tawfiq, as at one point we weren't sure if his flight would be allowed to leave Egypt (this was at the height of the protests in Egypt) but Alhamdulillah things turned out all right. This was a mammoth tour, lasting three weeks! Almost all the talks were about his journey to Islam, a talk that's often titled "From the Vatican to Al Azhar". Shaykh Idris mentioned that he had a really really nice time with FOSIS, that everything went really smoothly and that he looks forward to coming back for more FOSIS tours in the future!
We also had the inspiring Dr Jamal Badawi with us for a few days speaking on a range of different topics that ISocs requested, including An Intro to Islam (in an interview format!), Misconceptions About Islam and the Purpose of Life. I was gutted I wasn't able to meet the shaykh on his visit here, but I hear his talks went swimmingly as always.
Finally, other talks and tours we had included the "Purpose of Life" tour with Adam Deen where he held debates across several university campuses. Alhamudlillah we even received news of some conversions after his talks. We were also working alongside IERA during this time to bring speakers like Hamza Tzortzis to ISocs. All in all, we hit almost 100 events this Jan-Feb, by Allah's grace.
I would like to thank all the speakers who gave up their time for the sake of Dawah and who allowed us to benefit from their knowledge and wisdom. It was a pleasure hosting them and hopefully we can have them back again for future FOSIS events inshaAllah. Secondly, thank you to Shaaista, our services GenSec, who held all the tours together and without whom none of this would have been possible. JazakAllah khair to all the project heads: Awab, Shuaib, Mohsin and Shaaista for taking on that responsibility. A special thanks to all those regional GenSecs who were constantly harassed by Shaaista, and to Sr Fathima and Br Asim for helping out too. Jazaks to the rest of the services committee for your hard work and input during this time, all the regional committees for your support in making things go smoothly on the day, Br Muhyadin for single-handedly sorting out all London talks as well as having to make 6am trips to the airport with the speakers (much appreciated! Your hospitality didn't go un-noticed by the speakers). Also thank you Zain for being the travelling camera man and pushing those pound pledges, Obada for helping sort out funding, Brs Omar Ali and Rashid for all your help with IERA, Sr Amal for helping recruit volunteers, and last but not least the rest of NEC, Team FOSIS and all our fabulous ISocs out there for making FOSIS speakers tour 2011 what it was. It was a real team effort and it's been a great experience being a part of it. February 2011- one to remember.
(P.S. pictures from the events will be loaded onto the FOSIS facebook page shortly so don't forget to check them out and if you're an ISoc with some good pictures of IAW events you've hosted do send them in to email@example.com. Recordings of some of these talks will also be available on DVD in the near future so keep your eyes peeled).
Head of Services - July-September 2010
In the name of Allah, the most Gracious, most Compassionate, and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon the Prophet.
My name is Hammad Parwaiz, I’m a 5th year medic from Cambridge University, and in July of this year I took over the reins from Furqan Naeem as the Head of FOSIS Services. I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of FOSIS, its great work and achievements last year, and was keen to do more of the same this time around. It was always going to be a tough act to follow Br Furqan, Sr Nada and their team that they had built up, but in the first few weeks after the ACM I had several meetings with Furqan to make this transition easy, and to help get the new committee going in the right direction for the year ahead.
I had envisaged having a really large committee; the saying goes “many hands make light work”. And so began my quest to recruit, recruit, recruit. I can tell you now, it’s a lot harder than you think! Alhamdulillah, I managed to assemble a fairly large team, from some golden oldies of FOSIS to advise and guide us along the way, to a keen group of newcomers eager to put their imaginative ideas into practice.
The first couple of months were spent in recruitment, setting goals and a services vision for the year ahead. A couple of Fajr meetings later and we were ready to go. The platform had been set and it was now time to start planning the first Speakers Tours. One of the key periods in the year that we wanted to target was Freshers’ Week. Demand for Speakers Tours are always high at this time, and what better way to attract new Muslim students to ISocs than by putting on great talks during Freshers’ Week. Our hunt for the speakers began, and eventually we managed to secure 3: Imam Ziaullah Khan, a FOSIS favourite from Canada; Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari of Darul-Iftaa and SunniPath fame; and Shaykh Abu Muntasir, Chief Executive of JIMAS. All of these are due to take place in the first fortnight of October inshaAllah.
Here is a list of events you can look forward to in October:
Several other proposals were submitted to the NEC for various services events in the coming term, which included events with speakers such as Yusha Evans, Shaykh Abdur Raheem Green, Shaykh Abdal Hakim Murad, Professor Tariq Ramadan and many others. InshaAllah I hope to announce some of these plans in the weeks to come.
In addition to this, I attended the IERA Press Conference in my capacity as Head of Services, along with Br Abdul Mukith (FOSIS Head of Islam Awareness), on Friday 23rdJuly in London. IERA announced some very shocking and surprising results of their latest research on "Perceptions on Islam and Muslims", which can be found here.
Other than these core services activities, I have been busy with duties on NEC and working on projects such as FOSIS Winter Conference 2010.
I’ll let you know how things went in my next blog! In the meantime, if you have any comments, suggestions or questions feel free to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
With requests for your duas,
Head of Services- March & AprilAssalamualaikum.
The months of March and April have been a reflective period whilst also preparing for the busy exams period and thinking what events we could do. After a busy three months where 5 speaker tours have taken place it was time to evaluate the work that had gone in. After having a month where everyday there was a speaker tour happening it was difficult to evaluate at the time as things were moving so fast. So it was good to take a step back and see where things have gone wrong and what improvements could be made so in future we don't make the same mistakes. One thing I've certainly learnt in this process is there are no substitutes for speaker tours. We can plan 101 events and prjects... but if the tours are not in place then we are being a great disservice to the Isocs as that is one thing they look to Fosis for the most. But the feedback we've had from Isocs has been very helpful and I encourage them to continue being helpful so we can deliver the best of services.
After the hectic speaker tours we wanted to do another event to round of the academic year. Although we wanted to another speaker's tour, Hussain Yee unfortunately pulled out so we weren't able to go ahead with that one. As it was close to exam time we decided against the idea of another speaker tour. Instead to help people with revision and settle their nerves we decided to do a series of online webinars to do with revision and exam time. The first one took place on Sunday which was a practical lesson and the speaker. br Tushar, gave some unique advice on how to make revision more efficient. Another one is being planned for this Sunday entitled' "Calming the crunch." Inshallah this will be delivered than Sh Faraz Rabbani and should more of a spiritual lesson on dealing with anxiety. Please do tune in- the last webinar had 300 attendees and was really beneficial!
We make dua for all those with exams coming up. May Allah (s.w.t) make them easy and make passing your exams a means to be successful in this life as well as the hereafter, As ever the services team is always here to support Isocs, so if you have any queries please get in touch.
Head of Services- January & February 2010
The months of January and February have been a very busy period for the services team. There have been a number of Fosis speaker tours taking up and down the country and in most regions. With Islamic Societies having their respected Islam awareness weeks and discover Islam weeks, the services team have tried to ensure we have speakers delivering talks in as many Isocs in place.
We have been blessed to have with us Hisham Mahmood, a lecturer at the famous Princeton university in California. We have also had Shaikh Faraz Rabbani, Idris Tawfiq and Dr Jamal Badawi. Alhamdulillah all the speakers really enjoyed their stay interacting with Muslim students of the UK. And the feedback that we have got from the participants and Isocs is that they have really benefited from having these international speakers.
At the end of January we had with us Hisham Mahmood who delivered talks at Soas, Oxford, Liverpool and Warwick. The titles at each venue were different as a lot of them were preparing for their Islam awareness weeks. Oxford universities "Walking on Water: Islam and the Gospel of Jesus" was one of the highlights of the tour. The week after we had one of the promising young scholars, with Shaikh Faraz Rabbani from Canada. The theme for the tour was " Living the Law with Excellence." Again Isocs really benefited from the Shaikh who bought his own style and dynamic way.
We then had with us an increasingly famous figure for Fosis: Idris Tawfiq. There was so much demand from Isocs from all different regions that we asked Brother Idris to extend his stay by another week. This also allowed Br Idris to speak at the Palestine conference organised by the campaigns committee. This was one of the memorable occasions for Br Idris as he had the opportunity to speak to many students and learn from them too. Alhamdulillah it was a jam packed tour with regions like Scotland and Ireland also benefiting. With the tour taking place at a time when a lot of Isocs were holding their IAW's, it was the ideal time to have with Idris Tawfiq. Amongst all his talks that he did, his conversion to Islam being a popular topic titled: "From the Vatican to Al Azhar." One of the highlights of the tour was the talk at Manchester where 400 people turned up to listen to the story with a strong non-Muslim audience. The final tour of February was with one of the gems of the ummah in Dr Jamal Badawi. Again he had a very busy schedule but took his time out to accommodate Fosis once more which we are very grateful for. The theme was "Muslim Contribution to Civilisation" with a lot of the venues taking advantage of extended question and answers.
I would personally like to thank the speakers who took their time out to be wit us once again. They thoroughly enjoyed their stay. I would also like to thank all the Isocs involved in hosting the speakers for taking their time out to accommodate and be with the speakers. There were over 30 Isocs involved in hosting the speakers but it was great to see Isocs being great hosts and really making sure everything is set on the ground. The sponsors of the tours were Islamic Relief, a charity that continues to support the work of Fosis. Without them none of this would have been possible.
The services team also helped to ensure that Dawah seminars took place in different regions over January. The weekend courses were done in conjunction with Iera and helped train the Isoc leaders and teams to effectively carry out their work. Again these were very beneficial to all those that attended and it was great to see a lot of work stem straight after the seminars.
So its been a great couple of months for the services team with a lot of work going on. But we want to carry it through in March before the Easter holidays. We will try and organise two more tours which are being planned so keep an eye for that. If Isocs need help with speakers then again please do not hesitate to get in touch. If your Isoc benefited from the speakers then we would also like to hear your feedback so get in touch with your regional chair. Please pray that the speaker tours continue to benefit and motivate another generation of young active students on campus.
Head of Services- December 2009
In December the services committee was busy with national speaker tour with the internationally renowned and charismatic speaker Hamza Tzortzis. The tour took place in the North and Scotland region and amongst the Isocs that hosted Hamza were Manchester, Dundee and Aberdeen. The feedback we received from some of the attendees highlighted the choice of topic which was titled "The Book that Shook The World" and how the Quran has a greater meaning to their lives. Reaching out to some of the smaller Isocs like Dundee and Aberdeen was particularly pleasing as this was one the aims of services from the beginning of the year - to cater and provide a services for smaller Isocs.
Also the committee recently had a meeting to review the first semester work and more importantly plan out the activities for the second semester - which looks jam packed, particularly it being IAW season throughout February and March. Inshallah we have at least 4 speaker tours planned with maybe a few more being added. Some of the speakers coming down to Isocs in the UK and Ireland include Hisham Mahmoud, Faraz Rabbani, Idris Tawfiq and Hussain Yee. There might be a few other tours happening and it being IAW season we'll be all hands on decks to make sure Isocs get a range of different speakers coming in. Inshallah we'll be trying to hit all the regions and getting to as many Isocs as possible. If you would like a speaker for your Islamic society please don't hesitate to get in touch with myself or your respective Fosis regional chair.
We understand that this period will be really intense for Isocs, preparing for their speaker tours and IAW. Alhamdulillah at Fosis we have put together some resources to help you achieve your perfect IAW. There are some great cases on the link below of successful IAW's by Isocs. If you need any help then again please do not hesitate to contact us and click here.
On a personal note last month I travelled halfway across the world to trek Mount Everest for Islamic Relief. It was a great experience for myself and being there for a noble cause - to help all those poor and needy in Africa to have access to the basic essential need of clean water. It was physically draining but at the same time knowing that we were on a journey to help thousands less fortunate than ourselves was the energy we needed to get us through the trek. It was also an eye opener to spend time away from home and simply be in awe of the creation of God almighty. Being amongst the highest mountains in the world and being so close to the stars at night when we were high up in the clouds, was truly a moment to think and reflect about life. I would certainly recommend doing something like this for most students over the summer period or whenever you can find time!
And finally please make dua for all those with exams this month.