Around maghrib time, our neighbors came up to greet us, and what do you know? One of them is Egyptian :) She very kindly offered to take us to Dar al-Zahra, which is the female version of Dar al-Mustafa, and I immediately took her up on the offer, since I hadn't yet met anyone.
Dar al-Mustafa is named after the Prophet Mohamad (one of his names is Mustafa, the chosen), and Dar al-Zahra is named after his daughter, Fatima Al-Zahraa.
Dar al-Zahra is beautiful. We're not allowed to take pictures, but basically, imagine a building with a hole right down the middle. The hole is a courtyard, which airs the whole place out, and is a play where some classes are held, so you can see the sky directly. There's another courtyard on the other side, and both remind me of the mosque of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), where the domes slide open to air the mosque.
To the right side of the main courtyard is the mosala (prayer area), and the rest of the building is made up of dorms and classrooms. During prayer time, everyone prays in congregation, and everyone wears a kamees, which is the traditional prayer gown tied behind the head.
I got a small tour of the place, and I met some of the women who were studying there. It will never cease to amaze me when I meet people from literally the other side of the world who give up their lives to come live and study in a place that is so alien to their culture. Unlike what you may think, students aren't just Arabs or Indonesians; I met people from Britain, Kenya, and Singapore.
SubhanAllah there are so so many people studying there. There was a class being held when we came in, and as a rough estimate, there were at least 200 women listening attentively. After the lecture, I finally ran into some of the other Dowra participants, who are staying in a house nearby. Four of them I'd already met before; they were with me in last year's Rihla. It's such a small world and I was so so happy to meet them again.
I'm thinking of moving in with the rest of the Dowra sisters rather than staying with my family. I mean, I see my family every day, but how often am I going to get a chance to experience the okhowa (sisterhood)?