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Tarim, Yemen

Tarim, Yemen

Issue 59 August 2009

A Blessed Land

Words and photography by Shaida Choudhury

The city of Tarim is majestic in its surroundings and rich in its history. The caliph Abu Bakr made three supplications for this special place – that God blesses its water, fortifies its land and makes scholars spring forth from it like shoots from the ground. Literally thousands of scholars have emerged from Tarim over the last 1400 years, one of whom is the respected scholar Habib Ali Jafferi who has delivered lectures in the UK to thousands-strong crowd.

When the water in Tarim was examined, nutrients were discovered that cannot be found anywhere else in the world. The land here really does seem blessed as one can see from its noble landscape. As you glance higher you see the beautiful golden Hadramawt mountains. You can feel the spirituality in the air.

Tarim’s surroundings are unique in their own way. When your eyes meet Tarim’s landscape for the first time, you feel as though you have travelled back in time, almost back to the days of the beloved Prophet Muhammad. As you wind your way through the humid streets, you see men dressed in long thobes, carrying their books in one hand and rolling their contemplation beads in the other as they walk to and fro between the Dar al Mustafa mosque and their homes. The women of Tarim wear dark flowing robes, and veil their faces from a relentless sun. Something that is marked in the people of Tarim is their kindness and generosity. There is always something new to learn from them, or inspiration to be taken.

A Hidden Jewel 

Tarim is a hidden jewel from the outside world, and a far cry from today’s modernised cities: sandy, rocky paths, houses made from mud-bricks – it embodies the essence of simplicity. This is the place to come if you want to undergo a test of endurance and patience, and emerge a stronger and more pensive person. It is recommended that Tarim be visited when the annual dowrah takes place, a 40 day summer course which is catered for westerners, with lectures and lessons taught by scholars like Habib Umar and Habib Ali, which are then translated into English.Dar al Mustafa has various programmes. Lessons begin after Fajr prayers and continue for about four hours. Numerous lectures also run during the course of the day on fiqh, hadith, spirituality and the Qur’an. All prayers are performed in congregation.

Regarding practicalities, men and women have separate accommodation. Sisters are provided with a Tarimy house with all essentials and facilities to make the experience as easy as possible during the humidity. Meals are provided with a staple of fish, rice, pasta, and chicken. Sisters are transported from the residence to where the lessons take place.

How to get there:

Inform the institute you’re going to (i.e. Dar) and get an invitation letter and have it sent to the airport, and also keep a copy yourself (not vital). Get a flight to the capital, Sana. On arrival get a tourist visa. Alternatively go to Seiyun via the UAE. Seiyun is a 40 minute drive to Tarim.


Find out more about each of our Spiritual Retreats this Ramadan:

Rihla to Madinah and Makkah>

Rihla is a journey for the sake of knowledge, enlightenment and spiritual advancement.

Alqueria de Rosales, Spain>

The Alqueria offers a calm haven of reflection and respite amongst unspoilt natural surroundings.

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