In the Name of Allah, The Beneficent, The Bestower of Mercy Islamic University of Madinah Student Guide (We Will be updating this in the coming months insha’Allah) All Praises are due to Allah, we seek His help and His forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from the evil or our own souls and from the consequences of our evil actions. Whomever Allah guides no one can misguide him, and whomever Allah allows to go astray no one can guide him. We testify that there is no god who has the right to be worshipped other than Allah and He has no partners, and we testify that Muhammad (May Allah’s Peace and Blessing Be Upon Him) is His slave and His messenger. “O you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared and die not except as Muslims” [Aal-`Imraan 102]. “O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord who created you from a single person, and from him he created his mate, and from them both he created many men and women and fear Allah through whom you demand your mutual rights, and do not cut the relations of kinship. Surely Allah is ever an All-Watcher over you.” [An-Nisaa’:1] “O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allah and fear him, and speak the truth so he will direct you to righteous good deeds and will forgive you of your sins and whoever obeys Allah and his Messenger has indeed achieved a great achievement.” [Al-Ahzaab 70-71]. To proceed: The best speech is the book of Allah and the best guidance is that of our Prophet Muhammad (May Allah’s Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him) and the worst affair is that which is newly introduced into this Deen. And every newly invented matter is an innovation, and every innovation is leading astray and every leading astray is in the fire. Allah, through His enormous bounties, has granted you the great blessing of being one of the few Muslims from America with the opportunity to study here at the Islamic University of Madinah. You should reflect upon many of the ahaadeeth about the path of seeking knowledge, its rewards, and its trials. The first area upon which you should reflect is your intention for seeking knowledge, and being certain that it is only to seek Allah’s Face. As stated in a Prophet tradition narrated by `Umar (May Allah Be Pleased With Him) that he heard the Messenger of Allah (May Allah’s Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him) saying: “Surely, all actions are but driven by intentions and, verily, every man shall have but that which he intended…” (Narrated by Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim). We ask Allah not to make us of those who receive the punishment of the one who seeks knowledge for other than Allah, as the mentioned in the following Prophetic tradition: On the authority of Abu Hurayrah, he heard the Messenger of Allah (May Allah’s Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him) saying, “… And the person who sought knowledge and taught it and recited the Qur’an. He will be brought (before Allah) and his bounties will be made known to him and he will recognize his bounties. (Allah) will say, “What have you done with these (bounties)?” He will say, “I have sought knowledge and I have taught it and recited the Qur’an for you (seeking your reward)”. (Allah) will say, “You have lied. You only sought knowledge so it would be said, ‘He is a scholar,’ and you recited the Qur’an so it would be said, ‘He is a skilled reader.’ Then, it will be ordered that he be dragged on his face until he is thrown to the fire… – (Narrated by Muslim). Ask Allah to make your intentions solely for His sake and for nothing else. Abu Hurayrah narrated that he heard the Prophet (May Allah’s Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him) saying, “The worldly life is cursed and everything in it except for the remembrance of Allah and what is connected to it (i.e. working for halal means, enjoining the good and forbidding the evil…), and the scholar and the student of knowledge .” (Narrated by At-Tirmithi and Sahih Jaami` of Shaykh Al-Albaani. May Allah reward you with paradise for taking this path as the Prophet (May Allah’s Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him) said, “If a person follows a path for acquiring knowledge, Allah will make easy for him the passage to paradise” (Narrated by Muslim). To aid you in your travel and stay here in Madinah we decided to write down for you some planning and travel tips for your benefit and for making the process go smoother. What do I do to prepare before I come A) Processing your Visa – Contact the embassy and cultural attaché by finding out the deadlines for turning in your paperwork. It is an extremely important point to bring notarized copies. It is a condition now that your paperwork is translated into Arabic before you arrive. Make at least 3 copies of all your documents including your passport and marriage certificate if you are married. Deal with them directly if you live near the embassy in Washington, D.C so the process can go smoother. Allah knows best. It cannot be stressed enough: Please be patient! The workers at the embassy or cultural attaché may give you a hard time. This is just something that you have to deal with. Note: New students have three months from the time the visa is issued until it expires to enter the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This is important, especially for the married brothers who may want to stay home longer to save more money. B) Scheduling Your Flight – By this time you should have your ticket and visa. Make sure you pay attention to the itinerary of your flight. The university will sometimes schedule your flight from your city to LaGuardia or Newark, and you have to catch a bus to JFK International Airport (The bus fee is about $12). This is because there might not be any flights going to JFK from your city that will give you enough time to catch the flight to Saudi Arabia. You need to be in JFK about 5 hours before departure. Also, make sure that you have an ample amount of time (about 4 hours) to catch your flight from Jeddah and then to Madinah. You may have to wait in line and go through immigration for about two hours. This will depend on the number of people being processed through immigration and customs. It may be better to catch the 9PM flight from Jeddah to Madinah (Note: Actual flight time may vary). Even if the airlines agent tells you that you will catch the earlier flight don’t take the chance because it is a big hassle to change the ticket. There will be bag carriers asking if you need help. If you decide to use them for help then expect to give them a tip in Saudi Riyals (about 5-10 riyals). If you need help go to the information desk, speak English (only) and they should try to help you. You will look like a foreigner, so don’t be naïve and trust everyone. There may be people who may want to rip you off or trick you so pay attention. It is better to exchange your money when you arrive to Jeddah immediately at the banks or money exchangers in the airport. Keep a watchful eye upon your personal belongings. C) Health Information – Bring any medications that you may require as they may not be accessible here. You can contact one of the brothers to check if your medication is available here (Contact information will be available at the end of this guide). Bring plenty of Vitamins especially Vitamin E. What do I bring to Madinah? Bring at least $500-700 because you may not see your first monthly stipend for at least 2-3 months. (You receive 840 SR a month = $224.50US). Bring an abundant amount of clothes [Ex. Plenty of underwear, lots of socks (although it is better not to bring white socks as they may get real dirty), undershirts, etc.] Also, bring a sturdy pair of sandals to wear because you may not find suitable sandals if you wear a size 9 or above. Additionally, be sure to bring durable sneakers if you like to play basketball or workout (Recreational facilities are available in and outside the University; like a swimming pool, basketball court, soccer fields etc…) Be advised that it gets quite cold and dry here in Madinah during the winter, so bring a medium size jacket, hoodies, skullies ,thermals, gloves, thick socks, lotions, chap stick or anything else that you feel that you might require in the winter. It gets extremely hot and dry so bring deodorant (Degree works the best here) or anything else you may require. We advise you to go to the 99-cent stores and stack up on these items and items like batteries because they are expensive here in the Kingdom. Bring about 15-20 passport size pictures with the negatives! You need to have pictures for most of your paperwork here in the kingdom. Towards the end of every year there is a big book fair so we advise you to save your money for this and for buying books in general throughout the year. If you are coming alone (without your wife) it is best to buy a washer after a few days because the University does not have any washers for the students. A small washer can be bought for about 300SR ($80). What do I do when I arrive to Madinah? D) Your arrival- You should have a ride to the University because you would have already contacted one of the brothers (contact numbers on the last page) with your itinerary. In case you were not able to contact the brothers there are two other options: free transportation provided by the University or taxis (which should not cost more than 20 riyals i.e. 4 riders x 5 riyals). It is best to avoid the taxi if you do not have the money to pay them. Additionally, the Saudi Arabian Public Transportation Company (SAPTCO) provides 5SR rides from the airport to The Prophet’s Mosque. A taxi ride from the Prophet’s Mosque to the University (including the luggage) should be no more than 10SR. Make sure that you have your acceptance form and passport handy with you because you will most likely be dropped off at the Committee for Welcoming Students (Inside Student Resident Building #1 and close to The Faculty of Islamic Jurisprudence). Note: The earlier you come, the better you room will be (in most cases). More detailed information of dorm rooms and University housing will be provided in the next section. Note: You can make the decision on performing `Umrah before you come to Madinah (if you know someone in Jeddah or Mecca the trip to Mecca will be easier for you) or starting your school registration, which takes about a week or so to complete. E) Conditions of the building– The dorm buildings are being renovated so you may get a nice building with 4 people to a room or you can get an older building with 6 to a room. In some instances, a considerable amount of patience is required in respect to the students’ interactions and dealing with their roommates. They, as well as you, may have different study habits and may be accustomed to different lifestyles at home, having never been required to care of themselves, or be responsible for their own livelihood. As well, keep in mind some people are coming from third world countries and may have different cultural habits from what you might be used to. Do not let these differences, however extreme they may be, affect you because you have to remember everybody is human and makes mistakes. Note: There are students of over 100 different nationalities studying at the University. F) How do I register for school? We will try our best to arrange for the brothers to register for school with a student who is familiar with registration and/ or has a good command of the Arabic language as this will ease the registration process for all parties involved. Keep in mind, you have thousands of students (from all walks of life) registering for school at one time so be patient, put your trust in Allah, and don’t let the Shaytaan corrupt your view of what you can really be a valuable learning experience. As well, keep in mind that registration can take up to two weeks to complete, so don’t feel a need to rush. Note: If you desire to do this process on your own we can only say that we advised you to do otherwise and we are speaking from past experience! Allah knows best. ___________ Married Students This section is focused upon brothers who want to have information on how to prepare to bring their families to Madinah (i.e. – Cost of an apartment, appliances, plane tickets/ what to bring from home, etc.). 1) What will be my annual cost of living? Expenses – Depending on the size of the apartment and the location rent can cost between $2,500-3,500 a year. Most payments plans are in six month intervals but some owners may demand the year’s rent upfront. It is important for you to know that you will be signing a contract for your apartment, so arrange to have someone with you who understands `Arabic and the fiqh of contracts so that you are not stuck in an unfair contract with invalid conditions. The following costs are mentioned in US dollars. Note: The exchange rate from the US dollar to Saudi Riyals is $1= 3.75SR. Estimated Costs of Appliances Washing Machine: $150-200 Refrigerator: $270 Carpets: $200 Stove: $120 (Electric Stove – $250) Note: LG, Samsung, and Whirlpool may be the best products in Saudi Arabia. Note: These prices are for new appliances. King size mattress: $125 Gas tank: $30 (If you decide to buy a gas stove) Closets: $100-200 (depending on the size) < The electricity bill is fairly cheap, averaging between $25-30 a month. The phone bill can vary from $80-150 every two months depending on how often you use the internet (DSL is now available in most areas). You have to pay $80 to activate the phone line. Food bills vary from $100-200 a month depending on the size of the family. There are times where you can find decent used appliance from students or at the flea market. As well start thinking in Saudi Riyals and not US dollars because doing otherwise can lead to poor management of money, as you will receive your stipend in Saudi Riyals and not dollars. The reason that the above information is in US dollars is to give you a rough idea how much you have to spend and save. Plane tickets for Saudi Arabian Airlines can range from $800-1000 for adults and 75% of the same fare for children between the ages 2-12. Children 2 and under are 10% of the adult fare. Note: Allah is Ar-Razzaaq (The Provider). He is the one who provides for all of us so please don’t let Shaytaan lead you to think that because you don’t have “enough money” it is better to leave your family in America than bringing them here to this blessed city. Please inform the brothers if you are coming with your families so that prior arrangements can be made to house you and your family. 2) How do I find an apartment? You have two main ways of finding and apartment here in Madinah. You can go to an apartment agent and he will direct you to apartments suiting your price range. If they find any apartment for you and you choose to take it, you have to pay them 500SR. Another option is to have brothers look in their areas for vacant apartments or spreading the word around that you need an apartment. 3) Transportation in Madinah – Taxis are the main source of transportation in Madinah and most of the Kingdom. The average taxi ride is 5 riyals one-way. If you are interested in purchasing a vehicle you can buy a decent used car for about $3,000. 4) What do I do if my family gets sick? A clinic is located on the University if you or a family member becomes ill. There are hospitals in Madinah where you can take them. You can get more information when you arrive. The average doctor visit is about 50 riyals. You can pay as much as 1200SR ($300) for your wife to deliver a baby. Bring plenty of medications, especially medicine for children because they may be hard to find. Your wives should know what to bring because they know what is best for the children. Contact: leave us a comment please and we will contact you.