I attended this year’s Reviving the Islamic Spirit. A conference I had always looked forward to when I was younger not for the lectures but for the sheer spectacle. It was a big Islamic show, and to my young eyes that was more than enough. Even now, looking at my 12 year old sister as she sits patiently in her seat staring up at Sheikh Hakim Abdul Jackson, wide-eyed and excited; I know she doesn’t understand the brevity of his words at all. She enjoys the show of it all. Claps enthusiastically, beaming from ear to ear, when two brothers from Montreal accept Islam on stage. She enjoys the bazaar, asking for brightly coloured hijabs to add to her slowly growing collection.
Whereas I feel a little bereft, feeling as though I should be much more touched spiritually by this conference. I sit in the lectures, stoically listening. I am not moved to tears, I don’t stand up when the men convert. I felt emotional only when Sheikh Habib Ali Jifri speaks, his sincerity is obvious. His words emphatic, they are not meant to stir a great emotion in us. Rather, he speaks sense and from the heart. He makes us nod our heads in agreement, “yes!” I think, “this is what RIS is to me”.
After the conference is finished I sit in my bedroom, staring at my prayer mat lovingly set out with my oversized chaddar folded in a corner to the side. I am sitting cross legged after praying fajr. I miss that feeling of having a ‘deen boost!” from RIS. I remember in days gone by how energized I felt after the conference, how ready I was to take on the world. How the words of Sheikh Hamza and Zaid would fill my heart and mind. I would search their talks online, reliving my experience. A smile on the corner of my lips. For days (months, even) afterward I would regale those who didn’t attend not with the knowledge I had gained- but with the speedy cognition of my reignited heart. How I felt, rather than what I learnt, was far more important.
And for so many this is what RIS is about. The “deen boost” a figurative kick in the pants. It gets their gears crunching, their heart beating. Their blood running with love of Islam. That’s great! “If that is what RIS is for you,” I said, “Then go for it. May Allah bless your time during the conference”.
But now I feel like it is but another mire of knowledge. Insights are gained, Ambassador Shabazz was most illuminating- refreshing even. But I don’t feel that ummah kick anymore. It’s just a point of interest in my year, no longer the highlight of my year. And yes, it has become that time to meet old friends, purchase that hard to find hijab, and steep myself in an environment full of Muslims.
I’m sitting cross legged on my prayer mat, it faces my window. I look out onto the unseasonably warm December sky. Rain splatters my window, I think of all the things that surround my life right now. Fear, love, war, hatred, forgiveness, stagnation, a sexualized society, tuition fees, family, fights, happiness- Allah.
I think I’ve come to that point, inshAllah, where I don’t need a yearly conference to reignite love of my faith.
I’m already there.