Clearly, these events have a strong positive side: they bring new people to the religion, they inspire those who are already Muslim, they provide relevant reminders, and they expose us to the examples of prominent community leaders whom we can emulate. However, just like with most other things, there is such a thing as too much. The best analogy that comes to my mind is sleeping pills. When we get older, we have trouble sleeping, so we take a sleeping pill every night and for a while it helps. Yet with time, our body adjusts and we need more and more pills to go to sleep, so we end up in a situation where these pills are harming our body, but we cannot even attempt sleep without them. I believe that these Islamic events are a similar drug. Yes, they bring inspiration and remind us to follow our deen, but their imaan boosts are temporary. A temporary boost can be critical in maintaining a level of spirituality (after all, this is a part of what Jumu'ah has been made for), but at the end of the day it cannot become our permanent fuel. Unfortunately, I see more and more Muslims relying on these events to maintain their deen. Just like with the sleeping pills, their first try makes a big difference, but because they do not use any other means their overall level of imaan stays the same – or even falls. The conferences start to have little effect, but the heart becomes destroyed – killed by the constant injections of inspirational materials. Don't get me wrong, I think that there is great benefit in RIS and AlMaghrib. Just like a Friday sermon, they help us by boosting our imaan and perhaps giving us some new knowledge. However, they are not a replacement for a slow, steady practice of our religion. A weekend seminar cannot and will not replace a day-by-day, week-by-week study and reflection. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “The best actions are those which are small and consistent.” (Bukhari & Muslim) These small but consistent actions should be the permanent fuel of our imaan, not random events, conferences, or lectures. A page of Qur'an a day, every day, is much weightier than attending RIS. In reading the 40 hadith of Imam Nawawi, the best approach is not a three-day intensive crash course. It is a slow steady reading, taking one new hadith once a week or even once a month, and giving it the time to see it fully implemented in our lives. After all, there is no long term effect in studying all 40, never implementing any of them, but simply receiving a dose of inspiration. On the other hand, taking just one hadith and acting upon it for the rest of one's life would amount to a great reward from Allah the Most High and could make the difference between Hellfire and Paradise on the Day of Judgment.
Especially with the month of Ramadan fast approaching, we all should take the time to think about this point. Yes, we should pray taraweeh, yes we should recite more Qur'an, yes we should hunt down for that golden opportunity that is Layatul-Qadr, but we must remember that Ramadan is also an excellent term for a long-term boost. So think of one or two daily habits that you want to implement in your life, such as always staying in wudu or reading Qur'an after fajr, and start them this Ramadan. This way, when the month ends, its legacy will not and you will continue to reap that reward in the years to come. How's that for reviving your Islamic spirit?
Anton is a 22 year old Russian-American convert to Islam. He has studied at the University of Toronto for the past two years, but will be returning home to America in September. He has been heavily involved both with interfaith and Muslim communities, serving as an exec at the University of Toronto St. George MSA over the past year. He occasionally writes for his own blog and has recently begun video blogs under the name of El Musafir (http://elmusafir.wordpress.com and http://www.facebook.com/pages/El-Musafir/124559040888113). His interests include learning about Islam, reading, and tea.