When Reviving The Islamic Spirit Came to Malaysia, by Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

The wildly popular Reviving The Islamic Spirit convention went to Malaysia for the first time this year. Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil, like others in the region, jumped at the opportunity.

When I think of the RIS (Reviving The Islamic Spirit) Convention, I think of Canada – very far away. Imagine my surprise and delight when I heard that RIS was coming to Malaysia in March 2016. Tickets were sold out fast, and scholars like Dr Umar Faruq Abdullah, Shaykh Ninowy and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf graced our sunny shores.

Meeting fellow Australians was a wonderful bonus. Some of our family members flew in, and my husband and I met old friends we hadn’t seen in years. Some of them were now married, others had more children, and we met friends who had just returned from RIS Toronto.

The venue – Putrajaya International Convention Centre – was spectacular, the Grand Bazaar brimmed with all kinds of Islamic books, calligraphy, apparel, and the volunteers were warm and welcoming. The scene was set, and we were ready to be inspired.

My husband and I have a toddler, so with the help of my mother-in-law, we could take turns going up to the main auditorium. Alhamdulilah, I was able to attend the very first lecture, with Shaykh Ninowy. His beaming face greeted us, and marked the beginning of a a transformative weekend. During the first night, my husband listened to Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Imam Zaid Shakir, and Rashidah Ali. The following night, it was my turn. Our tag-team continued over the weekend, especially because we had two very long days: 10 am to 10 pm.

I couldn’t attend all of the lectures, but a few lines from the weekend resonated with me: “Your father is the scholarly tradition, and your mother is the beautiful cultural tradition.” Dr Umar Faruq Abdullah reminded us of the importance of both, in our journey of seeking and applying knowledge.

Imam Khalid Latif, a NYC chaplain, captured us with his oratory and sincerity. He challenged us to have weekly meals with someone different to us. Why? Because that’s how we learn how to have a heart as big as the Prophet’s (upon him be blessings and peace) – by embracing difference, and truly listening to one another.

Many of us were thrilled to hear from Dato’ Dr Afifi al-Akiti, a Malaysian scholar who lectures in Oxford University’s Faculty of Theology. With his trademark Nusantara adab, he made the point that it would be wiser to stick to the ‘pagoda’-style mosque roofing in this part of world, instead of copying the dome-like style. Pagoda roofing allows heavy tropical rain to run straight to the ground, whereas domes lead to water stagnating on the roof.  SubhanAllah.

The RIS volunteers did a stellar job. They were so helpful, friendly, and unfailingly polite. I am especially grateful for the volunteers who helped at the Family Lounge. From offering balloons, smiles and opening doors so parents could balance babies and bags, they helped to provide much-needed ease.

The Family Lounge at RIS was very well-organised. It was spacious, comfortable, and the live feed was clear. There was plenty of space for the younger children to run around and play, while their parents watched the live feed. There was even a designated area for diaper changes and nursing. The children’s program in the next room was also fantastic, and divided between the younger kids and the older kids.

Next year, I forward to the inclusion of lady scholars to the line-up at RIS Malaysia. The voice of female scholarship is so needed in today’s world. Anse Tamara Gray, for example, combines 20 years of traditional Syrian scholarship with her down-to-earth American practicality. She speaks with the combined wisdom of a shaykha, daughter, wife, mother, and grandmother.

I pray that Allah reward the scholars who shared their knowledge and time, the organisations who helped make this happen, and the volunteers who helped so tirelessly. May Allah reunite us all in the Garden.

[cwa id=’cta’]

The Prayer That Brought RIS 2015 to a standstill

khalid Latid dua at RIS
Ya Allah, our Lord, Most Merciful of those who show mercy, instill within us courage as we start this day.
Our struggles are real, but Your Promise is true. Indeed with hardship, there always comes ease. Remove from our hearts any fears or inhibitions, and replace them with an ever-increasing boldness to live each moment as best as we can.
Grant us the courage to express our feelings, to let those that we love know how valuable they are to us, to seek forgiveness from those that we have wronged, and to exert mercy towards those who have wronged us.
The burdens of life sometimes seem to heavy to bear. The anxiety and anguish that sits inside of us feels bigger at times than the world around us. Give us audacious hearts that can overcome that pain inside – hearts that help us to carry each burden with ease, regardless of how heavy it seems. Make us not from amongst those who are sheltered from life’s realities, but rather amongst those who are not afraid to face them.
Bring people into our lives that we love so much that our love for them moves us to be courageous but not foolish. People who we love so much that our dedication to their well-being is rooted in wisdom and mindfulness. Make us people who find strength through selflessness not selfishness, sincerity not self-centeredness.
Grant us the courage to stand again after we have fallen, to find meaning in our failures, and to keep moving forward no matter what is trying to push us down. Grant us the courage to put our trust in You, whether we understand or not, and the courage to recognize and feel the depth of Your Love. Help us to harness that Love and utilize it to illuminate the darkest of places we might have to venture in, both in the world around us and the world within us.
Grant us the courage to live our own lives, to understand our role in the writing of our own stories, to make decisions with foresight and insight, and before each step we take in this world, to remember we will have a life in the world beyond this one.
Grant us the courage to forgive ourselves and to live a life in pursuit of true contentment, the courage to ask You to remove from our lives anything that distracts us, gives us only complacency, or satisfies only our wants at the expense of our real needs.
Love Your creation through us. Be gentle to them through us. Increase them in strength through us. Give them courage through us. Help them grow through us. Endow them with confidence through us.. Fill them with sincerity through us. Protect them through us. And us them bring good and benefit to the rest of us and this world – Most Merciful of those who show mercy.
Let our anger be only at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people so that we will work for justice, equality and peace.
Let our tears shed only for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and conflict, so that we will reach out our hands to comfort them and change their pain into joy.
And let our successes be many as we make a difference in this world by doing the things which others say cannot be done.
You are with us always, Ya Allah. Help us on this day to recognize Your Presence, and through it give us the courage to meet the challenges of this day and those of every tomorrow that we will see.
Protect us always from hearts that are not humble, tongues that are not wise and eyes that have forgotten how to cry.
Forgive us for our shortcomings, and guide and bless us all.

Transcript of the dua made by Imam Khalid Latif, of New York, at the 2015 Reviving the Islamic Spirit (RIS) convention in Toronto, Canada.

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