Neighborhood Halaqa Facilitator’s Guide
Neighborhood Halaqa Facilitator’s Guide
Last modified: April 2014
Table of Contents
- Purpose of the Halaqa
- Before the Halaqa
- The Topic and the Facilitator’s Role
- Topic Email
- At the Halaqa
- Format of the Halaqa
- Topic Facilitation
Thank you for offering to facilitate the Halaqa's next topic! In order to assist you, please read this short guide with tips for facilitators which were generated by the Halaqa group.
Purpose of the Halaqa
- To strengthen our individual relationships with God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.
- To build a stronger, healthier community based on companionship, empathy, and knowledge.
- To create a safe space for dialogue, active listening, and personal sharing.
II. Before the Halaqa
The Topic and the Facilitator's Role
The topic is chosen based on the consensus of the attendees of the preceding week's halaqa and generally has the following qualities:
- It builds on themes or topics discussed in the previous halaqa
- Some aspect of it offers the opportunity to be discussed through personal experiences
As the facilitator, you will introduce and facilitate the discussion, so it is helpful if you feel comfortable enough talking about or explaining the topic.
Please send out an email the Sunday before the halaqa to the listserv to introduce the topic. Feel free to include anything that you would like the group to read, prepare, or think about in advance, such as:
- Quranic verses, hadith, or other text
- Short readings, blog posts, articles
- Discussion questions
- Anything else
Please include the name of your Halaqa (Downtown, CH, etc.) in the subject of the email, as well as a reminder of its time and location within the body.
III. At the Halaqa
Format of the Halaqa
The Halaqa generally follows the format below:
- Doors open 15 minutes before halaqa begins
- Halaqa begins with Check-ins
Check-ins is an open space for each person to share how they are doing in the moment, in their spiritual journey, in life, or in any other capacity. It's an opportunity for individuals to share without expecting to take feedback, advice, or reactions. Moreover, it's an opportunity to actively listen to others in the group.
- Topic Discussion
- Closing Prayer/Exercise
- Group Prayer:
- Do-One-Thing: Each person share a specific, tangible action that they will aim to accomplish before the next week’s halaqa
- Individual-Led Prayer
- Silent Prayer
- Share a Takeaway
- Next Week's Topic Discussion
After check-ins, please introduce the topic and feel free to include a recap of the readings, an explanation of the topic, or anything else before jumping into the discussion. Then, for guiding the discussion, please ensure that the discussion follows the following principles:
- Reminders: In larger groups or when there are many people attending the Halaqa for the first time, it may be useful to mention the halaqa's purposes (above) as a reminder at the onset of the discussion.
- Equal Air Time: Feel free to mention the "step up, step down" principle and encourage participants to be conscious of how often they speak so that everyone may have the opportunity to add to the conversation. Feel free to ask the group if there is anyone who hasn't spoken who would like to (though there shouldn't be pressure for people to speak).
- Personal Experience: Encourage the use of "I" statements and personal experience to guide discussion.
- Listen First: Try to ensure that all opinions are inherently respected and encourage others to listen first before offering counterpoints or disagreements.
- Silence is Golden: It often offers time to contemplate heavy thoughts.
- Other Ideas: Feel free to use writing, art, or any other type of exercises.
- Wrapping Up: For the closing activity, feel free to come up with your own ways to close the discussion, such as "Do One Things" (each person shares one small actionable item that they commit to doing in this next week), sharing takeaways, or anything else.
When facilitating, please arrive on time. In order to be conscious of time try to give people a five minute warning that discussion is coming to a close.