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This year in its fourth consecutive iteration, Istifāda ʿIlmiya was attended by more than 15,000 community members from across the world. Held in Surat and organised under the aegis of the community’s principal educational institute: Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah, Istifāda ʿIlmiya is a two week educational outreach programme that specially caters to community members from all walks of life and various levels of study.

Focused primarily on religious education, community members attend formal asbāq which is a traditional mode of imparting knowledge where students sit on the floor with their legs folded as an expression of reverence for what is being taught.

In the Fatimi pedagogical tradition, knowledge is categorised in the form of ascending strata where one can advance to a higher plane of study and understanding only after having thoroughly completed the preceding stages. Each level has a specified collection of texts which the student is required to study before advancing. The asbāq are thus categorised according to specific texts and with each passing year, community members ascend the ranks of knowledge.

In addition to the asbāq, a host of other workshops and seminars are conducted by accredited professionals with an aim to impart practical knowledge and teach life skills. This year the focus was on problem solving techniques.

Istifāda ʿIlmiya is also the venue for Aljamea-tus-Saifiyah’s thesis defense sittings where students from class 11 defend their Master’s  thesis in the presence of faculty members, students and community members. The thesis topics pertain to contemporary academic discourse and provide an opportunity for fruitful discussion and contextualisation.

Striking an effective balance between a healthy mind and body, Istifāda ʿIlmiya also features sessions on healthy eating and living by renowned nutritionists and healthcare professionals. All attendees are encouraged to participate in sporting activities at the end of the day with competitive match fixtures as well as casual play at Khaimat al-Riyāḍa, Aljamea’s sports grounds.

The culmination of the Istifāda ʿIlmiya proceedings comes with the occasion of His Holiness Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin’s RA birthday where his son and successor His Holiness Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS delivers a sermon in commemoration of his late respected father. Syedna TUS has chosen this occasion to celebrate his own birthday and this year community members celebrated his 76th birthday with a grand procession on the historic Devdi Mubārak which is the location of his ancestral home.