Reviving the Islamic Spirit:
December 23-25 Toronto, Canada
RIS is a three day convention that is organized by "youth" to bring together the Islamic community in North America for some spiritual revival (as you can tell by the name) and a celebration of the Muslim identity. The program consists of back-to-back lectures with breaks in between for meals and prayer and the speakers include people like Tareq Suwaidan, Hamza Yusuf, Ms Shabaz (Malcolm X's daughter), Omar Abdel Kafi and many more.. This was my very first Islamic conference, especially of this nature or magnitude. Can you imagine that 15000 people came from all over North America and three hotels in Toronto were booked out??? MashaAllah.
The first day I was there, I was filled with uncertainty and apprehension. Just what exactly should I expect? At breakfast, the entire eating area was filled with hijabis with me being the ONE AND ONLY non-hijabi there. I felt discomfort, heavy discomfort. My parents' speech of how I should cover up for the conference throughout the car ride and then later in the hotel room made me even more uneasy. But I am who I am, and above all I should fear Allah and not the gazes of other people who might or might not judge me. I have never really cared about that anyway, I am who I am to the fullest and whether people respect that or not is not my responsibility. My uneasiness just magnified my own questioning about Hijab - although I have been thinking about seriously putting it on for almost a year now, I have just not been able to follow through with it. Does it make sense for a Muslim girl to pray five times a day, perform all of her Islamic duties but still have a bare head??? That is another topic altogether..
The weekend was purely magical.. being among thousands of other Muslims, many of whom are my age and dealing with similar struggles was very heartwarming (even though it was overwhelming at first). Just sitting in the dark room silently among the other thousands of Muslims migrating here to learn more about our deen, searching for the revival we crave to keep us going in this world which often feels at complete odds with our core values - my heart feels warm, proud and blessed. Most amazingly is that this convention is entirely organized, hosted, and planned by youth - I was thoroughly impressed! I now believe even more that Canada is somewhere where not only I can find myself and become the best of who I am.. and just, exhale!! Alhamdullah ala alsalama.
For more information on the convention: http://www.revivingtheislamicspirit.com/convention/