Monday, 1 September 2008


Al Salam 'Alaykum wa rahmatu Allahu wa barakatu.

May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon you.

Welcome to my blog.

This blog is about my trip to Tarim, a small town in Yemen. As is mentioned here:

Tarim is a historic town situated in the Hadhramaut Valley of eastern Yemen. Tarim is widely acknowledged as the theological, juridical, and academic center of the Hadhramaut Valley. An important locus of Islamic learning, it is estimated to contain the highest concentration of descendants of the Prophet Muhammad (sayyids) anywhere in the world. The city is distinguished for producing numerous Islamic scholars, including Imam al-Haddad.

I traveled to attend the summer Dowra, an intensive 40 day course in traditional Islamic sciences. Like one of my teachers said, we got the opportunity to study blessed topics in a blessed city.

I've tried my best to recount the experience as it was, though of course my account by no means does it justice. The experience needed someone who could wax poetically over it, and unfortunately I was not up to the task. Because of time constraints and our intensive schedule, I haven't been as articulate and thorough as I could have been, so forgive me if some entries seem choppy.

Any mistakes are completely my own, and if you were with me on this Dowra, please do let me know if I've misquoted someone, gotten something incorrect, or mentioned you and you'd like the mention removed. It was an honor to meet you all, and please forgive me if I somehow offended you or caused you any kind of distress.

This blog took up a lot more time than I thought it would when I began, so I hope it is beneficial to those of you who were with me, those of you who are thinking of traveling to Tarim, and those of you who want to know what life is like in a place where Islam is truly a way of life.

I've tried to split up my posts according to the topics I address in them in order to make the blog easier to browse through, since I've written quite a lot. But to get the real 'feel' of the experience, I'd advise you to bookmark the blog and read it from beginning to end.

I've also tried to include as many photos as I can to convey what I can't in words. If you use any of them, please do credit me as the photographer.

One last note: this blog is in no way affiliated with Dar al-Mustafa, Dar al-Zahra, or anyone of the Dowra administration. It is simply an account of my journey and my reflections.

I'll end this blog in the way the Dowra administration has been answering my emails to them for the past three years:

Please overlook my shortcomings, and keep me in your du'uas.


Drifter said...

As-salamu aleikum warahmatullahi wabarakatu sister.

May Allah swt reward you for this blog. I've read it's entire contents in 24 hours and it has made my heart bleed with the desire to visit Tarim. I have wanted to go for so long, and subhan'allah Allah swt has not yet invited me, insha'allah one day I will have the blessed oppertunity to see what you have seen, do what you have done, and maybe, if Allah swt wills it, achieve even half of what you have. Masha'allah tabarakallah, laa illaha il Allah, Allahu akbar.

May Allah swt draw you closer to Him with every breath you take and every munite you live. May He swt make you a guiding light for everyone you touch in this dunya - through this blog and in your life. May He swt grant you the highest of Jannah and bless you with the sight of His face and the blessed company of our beloved Rasul saaws. Amin

Your Sister in Islam

journey said...


I've been riveted by your blog and spent the last 2 days reading through it. Subhanallah, what an incredible experience you have had. Thank you for taking the time to write about it and give us a perspective we would not have had.

This quote on one of your posts shook me to the core and made me much more aware during salaat:
"Your hal (state) when you pray is a mirror of your relationship with Allah.

Anonymous said...


May Allah swt reward you for this blog immensley. I have been absolutley glued to it and read it form beginning to end. Some of the quotes you have on it are deeply moving.
What is beneficial about your blog is the chance that you've given to so many people to get a look into life in Tarim and Darul Mustafa who might otherwise never have the chance to go. And what comes out clear from reading your blog is the yearning we all have to go back to a Prophetic era. Masha'allah you have relit that flame with your words. I don't want this online dowra blog to end so I humbly request that you please keep posting more reflections from your experiences as you gather your thoughts over the coming days. But what you have done for us is enough already. May Allah (swt) bless you many times over sister.

ivushka1985 said...

Asalamu Aleikum,

MashAllah Ethar, what a lovely blog- I cannot believe you did all this while you were in the Dowra with us. May Allah (swt) reward you for all the efforts and time spent on this blog.

I actually wanted truly and deeply from the bottom of my heart to recommend this Dowra to every single person whether young or old, single or married. This for me has been the most emotional, spiritual, uplifting journey in my life. As for the people- no words can describe them- there not only you see sunnis but also ultra sunnis- the most hospitable kind hearted, generous , humble and modest people. If you truly want to know what Islam is, how to live Islam and what is the purpose of your life, how to be in devotion to Allah swt 24/7, how to do dhikr 24/7 you must go there. No matter what we all write and no matter how many pictures you are shown, none of these will do any justice to Tarim and the people there. As they say: Seeing is believing. May Allah swt give you all the opportunity and the ability to go to this blessed city of Tarim, to be in the presence of the Habibs and the Hababas, the pious people.

Have a good intention and sincerity in everything you do and know that everything is for the sake of Allah (swt).

Asiya said...

Assalamu alaikoum,
MashaAllah, I'm really looking forward to reading this once I get home inshaAllah and my internet access is a bit easier! I am still in Tarim, but returning home in a fortnight inshaAllah. Did I meet you? I atttended some dowra classes, shafi'i fiqh and dawa in the west, but couldn't attend all because of my children. So it's wonderful to find your blog. I would love to do the dora properly one day, I dream of bring my daughter in ten years time inshaAllah!

Daif said...


JazakAllahu Khairan for sharing your experiences with us. May Allah (swt) reward you for all your efforts InshaAllah with the highest level of jannah InshaAllah.

ummfarida said...

Assalamualaikum dear sister Ethar,

JazakAllah khair may Allah reward you over and over for your efforts for this blog. Like others have said, my heart beats for Tarim.Next to want to going to Hajj with my children never have I ever wanted something so much, I hear, read and think about it everyday and make my children make dua with me to visit this blessed city.

Indeed you were so blessed and what a rahmah of Allah it was to let you partake of the blessings of this beautiful city. To breathe its air, to touch the soil would be a blessing of a lifetime. May Allah reward you abundantly for opening this window into your life and letting us glimpse into what is truly a beautiful gem of this dunya.

Some of your posts and reflections were amazing and made me think deep and hard about the life we have here in the West. Some things taken for granted but certainly some things we could easily live without. May Allah give me and my family the opportunity to experience what you have experienced much, much sooner rather than later.

JazakAllah khair once again and inshaAllah we will meet, perhaps one day in Tarim :)


Anonymous said...

Asalamu 'alaikum sis I wanted to ask you something but I didnt know how to contact you as I dont have your email address and I wasnt sure when or if you'd recieve this message. I was wondering when the applications for the Dowra came out in 2008 because I keep going on the dowra site and they havent updated it yet or put up the new application forms so I was jus wondering how long it takes? Jazakallah kheir sis

Ethar El-Katatney said...

Insh'Allah the website should be up in a month or so--the website (from my past experience) is updated mid-late March. Don't worry, you'll know when it is--it'll say applications for 2009 now open.

Insh'Allah you'll get in and benefit from the wonders of Tarim.

Anonymous said...

Asalamu 'alaikum ukhti, hope you're in th best of health and imaan inshaAllah. I just wanted to ask you how long did it take for you to get a reply from the time you submitted your application form? And sis, if its ok with you, can u give me your email address somehow because I wish to contact u if I get accepted for the Dowra inshaAllah just to ask u some questions, if you dont feel comfortable posting your email address, then i'll understand inshaAllah. Jazakallah kheir
Your sis in Islam

Muslimah said...

Asalamu 'alaikum ukhti, I was wondering if I could ask u a question regarding the dowra. Do u know what they base the acceptance of the forms on? Is it a frst come, first serve basis or do they look at your Islamic backgrounds? When did u apply sis and how long did it take for u to reciece a reply?

Jazakallah kheir

Ethar El-Katatney said...

@ anonymous: Salams. It took approximately a month to hear back from the dowra administration. If it's taking too long, just email them and let them know you'd like to know even if you didn't get in.

I don't want to post my email address online, but you can find my profile (under Ethar El-Katatney) on facebook--just send me a message.

@ Muslimah: If you visit the dowra website, you can read the criteria they use to accept people, but I know it's definitely not based solely on a first come first served basis. They look at what else you've studied, why you want to come, and how much they think you stand to gain. Priority is given to Westerners.

Insh'Allah you'll get in!

Anonymous said...

Asalamu 'alaikum sis, when did you apply for the dowra last year (the date)and what was the date u received a reply?

Dar al-Zubaidah said...

Assalaamu alaikum

Dear Sister Ethar
Maashaa-allaah for the beautiful blog. Jazaakumullaah khairan annaa. I wanted to find out more about Tarim, Darul Mustafa and also Habib Kathim who will be visting Cape Town shortly inshaa-allaah. I found your blog very informative and insightful that gave me a glimpse into life in Tarim and its nobility. Please keep us in your pious duaa and I wish many more would enjoy experiences similar to yours ameen Yaa Rabb.

Sister Nawaal
Cape Town
South Africa

Mohamed Marouf said...

Salamo alikom ...
How are you Ethar ,
I have just Coming from the event which hold in EL-Sawy , it was a very prepared and very good event.
I just want to get your book to read it so would you please tell me where can I find it. and this is my mail for contact
Thanks a lot

Anonymous said...

Ethar ... I'm proud of you :)

Anonymous said...

Assalamulaikum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuhu,

InshaAllah this mail finds you and yours in the best of healths and Imaan, Ameen.

I am unable to view your article i.e your experience in Tarim during the Dowra program.

Would it be possible if you can email me a copy? or maybe guide me where I can read it from?

Kindly advice.

JazakaAllah Khairan,

With Duas,


Anonymous said...

Salam aleykum sister, thank you so much for writing this blog.. subhanAllah i have just returned from Tarim, i was there for this year's dowra.. i cannot forget this place, its where i would call HOME.. InshaAllah we will all be back one day..
Please keep in touch with me, your sister in Islam..