Reviving the Islamic Spirit …and the need for it

Alhamdulillah it is good to be back to writing again. Who ever thought my next post would be written laying on a bed in the same hotel I was staying at last year in Long Beach, California! More importantly, that I am back here to attend again the RIS conference. RIS for Reviving the Islamic Spirit, is a fantastic affair..why? Not simply due to the amazing line-up of speakers, the ability to deliver topical sessions year after year, the ever growing attendance and the palpable feeling of ‘barakah’ in the air… but also because this massive event was first envisioned and has been organized and put together every year by youth volunteers. Yep, young working Muslims in Toronto first started it and now after 9 years, they have branched off to a US version too. I am very happy with the latter as its cheaper for me to attend :), but the Toronto convention is about 3 times larger.

Indeed, initiatives like this are so essential. It is a time when events on the global stage are calling us everyday as Muslims, to rise up and let our voices be heard. It is time for us to define ourselves. And to do that, first we must learn Islam. Perhaps then appropriately, this year’s conference is titled ‘Removing the veil of Muslims from Islam’!

Now that I mentioned it, I wonder about that ‘palpable feeling of barakah’ present… is it because of this beautiful truth, where the prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be on him) who said, in a hadith Qudsi… Allah Kareem! And Allah knows best

On the authority of Abu Hurairah (radiAllaahu anhu) that the Prophet (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) said :
Whoever removes a worldly grief from a believer, ALLAH will remove from him one of the griefs of the Day of Resurrection. And whoever alleviates the need of a needy person, ALLAH will alleviate his needs in this world and the Hereafter. Whoever shields [or hides the misdeeds of] a Muslim, ALLAH will shield him in this world and the Hereafter. And ALLAH will aid His Slave so long as he aids his brother. And whoever follows a path to seek knowledge therein, ALLAH will make easy for him a path to paradise. no people gather together in one of the houses of ALLAH, reciting the Book of ALLAH and studying it among themselves, except that Sakeenah (Tranquility) descends upon them, and Mercy envelops them, and the angels surround them, and ALLAH mentions them amongst those who are with Him. And whoever is slowed down by his actions, will not be hastened forward by his lineage.
It was related by Muslim in these words.

On that note, the exciting news is that RIS has launched a website, allowing live streams of the talks as well as access to previous talks. It is not free however, I think that is necessary to fund the project. I heard RIS Toronto has been running in the green, but RIS USA has been in the red unfortunately. They only began last year so inshaAllah it will soon catch up. Here is the website. http://www.revivingtheislamicspirit.com/streaming/
Check it out..it has some nice features.

I also remembered I had ‘reported’ a previous RIS I attended… here are the links if in case it is useful… rather disjointed, but will hopefully give you an idea for the feel of this event; part 1 and part 2.

Finally, I’ll leave you with a sweet song by Maher Zain, performed last year at RIS much to everyone’s joy. This version is from Toronto though

Signs of the last day

Peace be with you all, Assalamu alaikum,

The news continues to be bad. Not just bad in one sphere, but in many ways and at the same time it seems. The conflicts and political disturbances seem to be growing and the number/scale of natural disaster increasing. I don’t want to seem to be ‘scandal mongering’ or trying to make this post sensational in anyway, but I do wonder what you feel about how all this works in terms of the signs of the last day?

I grew up in a country in conflict (but relatively sheltered from the worst of it masha’Allah) and am not a stranger to hardship, both physical and emotional. Now masha’Allah living in this protected western country sometimes I wonder if I am becoming immune to the suffering of others. Whether the ‘unfamiliarity’ of the suffering keeps me away from a real empathy. Sometimes I wonder if I am really living here. For in the east, it seemed life was more real and consequently death was more real. Suffering and joy was real and empathy was real. And knowing how fragile life really is, our awareness of our place in the universe more real… and somehow, in some strange way, instead of depression by all this, what was the outcome was peace in the heart. Like we didn’t have to wonder, only to live. Only to live. I miss those days and hope I am not too accustomed to the ‘luxury’ of life in the west (e.g., hot water showers, affordable food and a variety of it). On another note, perhaps the east is now full of these luxuries too :), and like here, the people are being rocked in to a false somnambulant state.

I feel that the need to distribute the wealth of the world evenly is becoming urgent and extreme. Having experienced first hand the incredible rift between ‘haves’ (typified by the West) and the ‘have-nots’ (typified by the East) and now with this knowledge so widely spread (that is more people becoming aware of this, or one hopes that is what is happening) that more is not done is a sign of the depravity of the times? Allah protect us. I do however also feel that the good are getting ‘gooder’ and the bad, left to their devices often becoming ‘worse’. The former is a source of strength, hope and joy and should not be underestimated in any way.

It really does seem that things don’t make sense anymore and can’t be made sense of in any comprehensive manner. And that, more than anything else, is why I wonder if the signs of the last day are coming one after the other with increasing frequency. I would love to know anyone’s thoughts on this.

For your reference here is a site that has the signs of the last days with references at least for many of them. Not all the ahadith quoted are sahih, and they don’t confirm if they are hasan. But most seem to be from the ‘sihah sittha’ (the six most rigourous/well regarded books of hadith).

To end, a few lines below, hoping it makes some sense :), but only really wanting to say that prayer is refuge at these times.

Peace through the night in prayer,
My heart feels yet I am unable to utter,
Struck dumb by terror
A glimpse of the immensity of Thy power
Of what could be of us all.
Yet the prayer, unjolted
continues, somehow in my heart, it continues
and soon swells to words on the lips
O Lord, only because of the hope
that knowing You are ar-Rahman brings.
Peace through the night in prayer.

Allah (God) protect and forgive and teach us all.

Copyright 2011. JoyManifest’s blog. F R Zahir