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The Muslim World

Reviving the Islamic Spirit (RIS) Conference held in Toronto By Dr. Mozammel Haque

The second largest Islamic organisation of the North American Continent, i.e. Reviving the Islamic Spirit (RIS) held its Convention 2014 in the last week of December in Toronto, Canada, which brought together thousands of Muslims from around the globe. The Toronto Metro Convention Centre in Toronto was the venue of this North America’s second largest Islamic Convention, a gathering of more than 20,000 participants.

Reviving the Islamic Spirit Convention 2014
This year the theme was ‘He Came to Teach You Your Religion: Prophetic Answers to Angelic Questions’, drawn from the famous Hadith i Jibril, narrated by Hazrat Umar(r). Twenty-four renowned scholars from Canada, the US, Britain, South Africa and Mauritania addressed the congregation on 26 issues/subjects/problems – all concerning purity of Islam, life today and the role of Muslim youth. It was galaxy of scholars denoting that the west is now self-sufficient in this area – scholars whose parents migrated from Asian and African countries, or indigenous men who embraced Islam and have attained remarkable proficiency in Islamic sciences.

Among the speakers there were Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah from Mauritania, from USA Huseyin Nasr, Malcolm X's daughter Shabazz, Muhammed Ninowy, Munir El-Kasim, Hamza Yusuf and Zahir Mahmoud from the UK, as well as well known artists, including Sami Yusuf who gave a concert on the last day.

For the prayer needs, the Masjid was available, and since the first day thousands came together to offer the Friday congregational prayer. There was also an open market in the exhibition space, selling books, decorations. Islamic wedding organisers also had their stands.

About the Conference
On the eve of the Conference, Conference organizer Summayah Poonah said she was not afraid to tackle tough subjects. "Radicalization would certainly be a hot topic within the community and drives a lot of the discourse that happening, whether it be what happened with the fallen soldiers in Quebec or Ottawa," she told CBC News.
"I think it's our duty and our obligation as a community to really tackle these issues head on and in a real way, discussing them overtly," she said.

British musician Sami Yusuf and U.S spoken word artist Amir Suleiman were among the performers for the entertainment segment.

Programme of the Conference
According to Mr. Muhammad Tariq Ghazi, former Managing Editor of the Jeddah-based English daily, Saudi Gazette, attended the conference as Silent Observer the detailed programme of the three-day conference was follows:

Holding up the House of Islam: The Five Pillars (Sr Aisha Adawiyya/Sh. Abdullah Idris).

Loving the Beloved (on the Seerah) (Sh. Muhammad Ninowy)
Prayer, women and servants – Last words of Our Prophet (Sh. Mokhtar Maghraoui).

Don’t Know How Much of Theology: Why Atheism is spreading and Religion Merely Surviving in the Modern World (Dr Seyyed Hossein Nasr).

When Life Becomes Strife: Staying Calm in an Age of Fitnah (Sh. Siraj Wahhaj).

When Zealots Rule: Doing the Devil’s Work in the Name of Islam (ref. to deviant outfits like ISIS and the ilk) (Mufti Mustafa Ceric).

Give up the News to Treat the Blues (on media spreading falsehood and sowing confusion) (Sr Salma Yaqoob).

Doomsday ETA: Instructions from Revealed GPS – God’s Pardoning System (Sh. Hamza Yusuf).

Dec 27: The Prophetic Practice of Prayer and Patience: When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Start Praying (Sh. Muhammad Ninowy/Dr Yassir Fazaga).

Code Red: Taking Islamophobia Seriously (Dr Hatem Bazian/Mufti Mustafa Ceric/Sh. Muhammad Majid).

The Limits of Growth: The End is in Sight When the Insightful Go Unheeded (Modern society’s destruction of global environment and Islamic remedy) (Dr Seyyed Hossein Nasr).

Fiqh of Reality: When Fiqh Means Fact, Do We Act? (Sh. Abdullah Bin Bayyah/Tr. Sh. Hamza Yusuf).

Cling Together to the Rope of Allah: Holding to the Qur’an in These Latter Days (Ud. Nouman Ali Khan).

Making Sacred Space in a Third Place (life in western societies) (Ambassador Shabazz).

The Wheel Spins, While Man Sins – (wheel of fortune - progress is always degenerative) (Sh. Hamza Yusuf).

Topsy-Turvy: When Bad Becomes Good and Sinners Become Saints (Sh. Sulaiman Mulla/Sh. Zaid Shakir).

Dec 28: Sound Mind in a Sound Body: The Sunnah of Exercise (Sh. Zaid Shakir/Sr Mubarakah Ibrahim).

Transform the Home, Transform the World: Is Your House Dar al-Islam? (Dr Munir Kassem/Shaykha Muslema Purmul).

We Are All Palestinians Now: Welcome to the New World Disorder (Sh. Omar Suleiman).

Realizing Sacred States When Residing in Secular States (Sh. Mokhtar Maghraoui).

Un-Friend Facebook: The Anti-Social Nature of Social Media (Dr Yassir Fazaga).

Where the Answers Are: The Lost Legacy of Islamic Scholarship (Sh. Abdul Hakim Murad).

The Smiling Prophet: Joyful Despite Tribulations (Sh. Sulaiman Mulla).
Not Just Why, But Why Not? Making Religion Relevant (Sh. Khalid Latif/Sh. Zaid Shakir).

Closing session whoaddressed by:
Mufti Mustafa Ceric
Sh. Abdullah Idris.
Dr Munir Kassem
Sr Aisha Adawiyya
Sh. Abdul Hakim Murad
Sh. Zaid Shakir
Sh. Mokhtar Maghraoui
Sh. Muhammad Ninowy
Sr Salma Yaqoob
Sr Mubarakah Ibrahim
Sh. Khalid Latif
Sh. Muhammad Majid
Maulana Sulaiman Mulla who also conducted the concluding Dua.

Gathering of Future Leaders
Describing the gathering of the conference Mr. Ghazi said: “More than 20,000 people, a vast majority of 80 percent-plus of them being teenagers or in early twenties, drawn from high schools and universities in a western country, gathered in a sprawling hall packed wall to wall. They listened with rapt attention to speeches oldish Shaykh Zaid Shakir, principal of California’s Zaytuna College, or a diminutive five-feet-tall youngish Khalid Latif, Imam of the New York Police Dept (NYPD) Masjid and a uniformed police-officer consultant for Muslim inmates.”

At the prayer time, a crowd of more or less 17,000 young boys and girls went for prayer.

Speakers quote and Issues
Issues discussed at the convention focused on the Deen in pristine purity and current issues that Muslims youth, particularly in the west, are facing.

A major highlight of the second day’s programme was an address by Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah on the topic, ‘Fiqh of Reality: When Fiqh Meets Fact, How Do We Act?’ "In our approaches to removing injustices, we should not create further injustices,” said Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah. “To the Youth- learn your religion because sometimes you think you are doing good but then you end up doing harm.”

Background of RIS
The Islamic Spirit convention was first launched in 2003 by Muslim Youth to tackle the backlash on Islam and Muslims after the 9/11 and to build a bridge of understanding with non-Muslims.

Event director Sumayyahh Poonah said that RIS started for the first time after the September 11 attacks with a group of young students and has said that it has grown significantly in the past 13 years, and that “Last year we had 20,000 visitors and we do not expect that number to be any less this year”. Themed, “He Came to Teach you your Religion”, Poonah said, “Throughout RIS, thousands of guests and visitors from North America and the Middle East will read and learn of this message”.