Kind Explorer though well accustomed to travel, they offer many packages including Umrah and Hajj trips, organised a retreat for the first this year. In collaboration with Vacations Maroc, Kind Explorer in Ramadan provided Ramadan FM a special promotional offer: discounted tickets on the Muslim Family Retreat 2018. Caught up the hustle and bustle of everyday life, the hubby and I did not book a holiday this year. Not abroad. Not in the UK. We therefore took full advantage of the opportunity to go on this retreat.
While the expectation was an adult environment that is child friendly, the reality was somewhat different. With an American high school style canteen and bunk beds, Grosvenor Hall definitely screams children’s summer camp. Private en suite rooms however were available by prior arrangement for couples. Rather than the wilderness, Grosvenor Hall is located not far from the Ashford shopping centre, with major supermarkets and plenty of restaurants in its proximity; we were not far from civilization and needn’t rely completely on the catering provided at Grosvenor Hall.
Our expectation had been somewhat subverted but we were not dissuaded. The weather was beautiful; a remarkable group of people from all over the UK came together for the treat; and there was a full agenda of speakers and activities ahead of us.
The speakers included Sh.Mohamed Lockhart of the As-salaam – Peace Centre Mosque in Leicester, Dr. Saalim Al –Azhari, councillor Rashidah Ali of Rashidah TV on youtube, and Sulayman Munir of MEND. Sh. Mohammed Lockhart shared the trials and tribulations of being a minority Muslim group in a predominately white area in Leicester, and how the Food Back set by the mosque proved to be a source of much needed support for the local community and a form of dawah to Islam. Dr. Saalim Al-Azhari spoke on the oft discussed topic: purification of the heart. Rashidah Ali shared with the group the lessons of mannerisms and etiquettes in Surah al-Hujurat. Sulayman Munir helped tip the scales in the favour of Muslims by highlighting the immense strides made by Muslims both academically and professionally and the spending power of the Muslim in the UK.
The activities were varied and included sitting round campfire, archery, raft building, orienteering, segregated swimming sessions, and mini Olympics. The activities and speakers often took place simultaneously. This was possible because Grosvenor Hall is staffed with Activity Instructors from Kingswood who supervised children so parents had some much needed time alone to enjoy the talks. This was definitely appreciated. Much of the feedback was positive. Br Azam summed up the experience aptly: ‘You had an impossible task [of] appeasing so many people, you and Kingswood did an amazing job. We are all enriched by your mild manner and positive attitude and these activities really do make a difference’.
Our Take Away
Alhamdullilah – no other event has afforded the opportunity to interact with nature and other people, feel empowered and revived, all in one weekend as this retreat.