The Reviving the Islamic Spirit Convention in Toronto, Canada draws thousands of Muslims every year, including some Michigan MSA-ers. The convention was most recently held from the 21st to the 23rd of December 2012. Nour Soubani, LSA sophomore, writes below on her experience that weekend.
As I sat outside the lecture hall waiting for the first session to start, I watched a middle-aged women, her head covered with a colorful scarf, corralling her three young children inside, all the while speaking to them in fluent French.
For me, this epitomized the experience of the 11th Annual Reviving the Islamic Spirit convention in Toronto. 25,000 people—men and women, children and teenagers, elderly and infants—from all over the world, representing all different cultures, languages, interests, and stories, gathered for those three days in what was truly a revival of the Islamic spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood for the sake of Allah (SWT).
The weekend started with a Friday sermon given by Imam Zaid Shakir. Through an analysis of the hadith describing those who will be shaded by the shade of Allah (SWT) on the Day of Judgment, Imam Zaid clarified the purpose of the convention and the ultimate goal of the global Muslim community: to achieve an Ummah that promotes the seven types of people who will be shaded—just rulers, youth who grow up in the worship of Allah, men and women whose hearts are attached to the mosques, who love each other for Allah’s sake, who fear Allah in their actions, who give charity and hide it, and who shed tears in their private remembrance of the Creator.
And with this, three days of wisdom and motivation and knowledge ensued. Scholars from all over the globe—Professor Tariq Ramadan, Dr. Tawfique Chowdhury, Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan, Shaykh Sulaiman Mulla, Dr. Amr Khaled—all spoke on diverse aspects of building a community based on pleasing Allah (SWT). We learned about the importance of sincerity in our intentions, about the relevance of the Quran as a light in our lives, about the essential love for our brothers and sisters in Islam, and about the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as our greatest example of character.
Inside the lecture hall, our minds worked, our collective motivation skyrocketed, our passions sparked. But outside of it, our hearts opened. Whether it was after prayer, having a conversation with someone you just happened to stand next to, or exchanging smiles and friendly words with the vendors in the bazaar, or sitting and sharing a meal with complete strangers in the dining area, the connections built with other Muslims were invaluable. It didn’t matter that we would probably never meet again or even remember each other’s names. What mattered was that we share faith; we share a love for this faith and for all those who claim it, and for its last Prophet, may peace and blessings be upon him. What mattered was that although I did not talk to, or even understand, the mother speaking in French with her children on that first day, nor did I see her again throughout the convention, she holds a place in my heart, and I am certain that I hold a place in hers.
So yes, I learned a lot. Yes, I heard verses from the Quran and listened to hadith and stories from the time of the Prophet (PBUH) and his companions. And yes, I took notes on great milestones in Islamic history. But my takeaway from the weekend was not facts, or quotes, or even knowledge; rather, it was energy. It was an urgent desire to devote myself in the service of this great religion and its followers, and to work towards the maintenance of a bond that is billions strong, all based on the striking acceptance of one merciful God, and to be involved in the building of a community whose members will all be shaded under the magnificent shade of Allah (SWT) on the Day of Judgment.