By Dr. Fawzia Mai Tung -
Once again, I entered the workshop, this time a full house
with a number of out-of-state participants, with the firm
intention NOT to cry. This time, I will be very objective and
realistic. I will take notes, I will discuss, I will analyze the
assigned verses from the Qur'an. I will not keep on raising
my hand to give some feedback unless it's very impersonal. I
will be professional. And then it happened, again and
again. My tears would flow unbidden.
How does she do it? Dr. Nadia Katrangi is a rather small
figure wearing glasses and hijab. Her qualifications on the
other hand are rather big, both professionally as a medical
doctor and theologically in the sciences of the Qur'an. Her
voice is rather gentle, though at times hard as steel. She
does not lecture non-stop throughout the two-day retreat. Rather, she presents briefly, and her assistants take
turns moderating the discussions and interpretations. Occasionally, the participants are assigned some activity. At other times, they watch an illustrative video clip.
Entitled "What's My Reception?", this retreat on November 4-5 in Phoenix, Arizona studied surahs At-Tariq, al-A'la, and al-Ghashiyah. Rather familiar ones. Indeed, all the retreats at the Seeds of Wisdom so far were
focused on the Juzu 'Amma. Then, after delving into the roots of every single word, the participants were invited to look retrospectively at their own life and apply the derived meanings onto it. This seemingly very mundane activity has deeply stirring results.
My only saving grace was that I wasn't the only one choking up or sobbing. Other participants also seemed to loosen old emotional knots. At one point, as Dr. Nadia invited us to delve further into the point, one
participant piped up, "in that case, we shall need more tissue boxes!"
We left the retreat with a new "40-day challenge" invitation, a folder full of notes and a resolve to come