TORONTO, ( Dec 28, 2013) – Amid inspirational speeches from renowned scholars around the world, the “Reviving the Islamic Spirit” convention got underway on Friday, Dec. 27, in Toronto welcoming thousands of people who traveled from across North America and beyond to attend the landmark annual gathering.
“These conferences are an exercise on how to live as a community,” Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan told the audience in his Friday sermon.
Nouman Ali Khan is the founder and CEO of Bayyinah and serves as a lead instructor for several traveling seminars. He brought his unique style of explaining the Qur’anic message to a session later in the evening in which he reflected on the well-known Verse of Light in the Qur’an.
Toronto’s RIS Message: Think and Be Optimistic
“Reality, as we know it around us, is irrelevant in the absence of light,” said Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan. “Light of Allah brings our hearts to life.”
Organisers are expecting 20,000 attendees to attend the convention that will run over the weekend at the Metro Toronto Convention Center in the heart of downtown Toronto.
The RIS has emerged as a major platform for some of the leading Muslim personalities from around the world to address one of the largest assemblies of Muslims in the western hemisphere.
A main theme that ran throughout the opening day’s sessions was the importance for Muslims to turn to the Qur’an and seek guidance and solace from its message.
“Our duty to the Qur’an is to read it,” said the well-known Muslim personality, Dr. Jamal Badawi.
“The Qur’an is to be understood and internalised.”
Yasmin Mojahed, popular for her inspirational speeches and writing, spoke eloquently on the topic, ‘Purposeless Pain or Painful Purpose? With Hardship Comes Ease.’
“It is through hardships that we are purified,” she told a rapt audience. “If you have refuge in Allah, you will have paradise inside.”
“The paradise inside cannot be taken away,” she added.
A major highlight of the evening’s programme was an address by Dr Seyyed Hossein Nasr on the topic, ‘A World Out of Balance: When Extremes Prevail.’
A major highlight of the evening’s programme was an address by Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr on the topic, ‘A World Out of Balance: When Extremes Prevail.’
Seyyed Hossein Nasr, currently university professor of Islamic Studies at the George Washington University, Washington D.C. is one of the most important and foremost scholars of Islamic, Religious and Comparative Studies in the world today.
“At no time in human history has there existed such extremes of wealth and poverty,” Dr. Nasr told the audience.
“Never in human history has there been such disparity.”
“Once, in the soul, the centre is lost, society moves toward the periphery, the extremes,” he noted. “All of religion is to bring us back to the Centre.”
“Our tradition has always supported the middle way,” he added.
Speaking on the theme: “Changing Our Condition”, Prof. Tariq Ramadan issued an impassioned call to the attendees.
“As Muslims, we have the duty to liberate ourselves,” he said. “I am calling for a jihad of meaning.”
“We have to reconcile ourselves with the meaning of things,” he added.
Named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most important innovators of the century, Prof. Tariq Ramadan is a leading Muslim scholar, with a large following especially among young European and American Muslims.
“We are facing a famine of affection and love,” Dr. Ramadan told the audience. “Knowledge is the power of your mind. Love is the power of your heart.”
This year’s rostrum of speakers at the convention include some of the most well-known Muslims personalities in the English speaking world such as Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Habib Ali Al-Jifri, Ambassador Shabazz, Prof. Tariq Ramadan, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Sr. Dalia Mogahed, Imam Zaid Shakir, Imam Suhaib Webb, Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan and Sr. Yasmin Mogahed.
The Islamic Spirit convention was first launched in 2003 by Muslim youths to tackle the backlash on Islam and Muslims after the 9/11 and to build a bridge of understanding with non-Muslims.
A recent survey showed that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian, and that they are more educated than the general population.
Muslims are the fastest growing religious community in Canada, according to the country’s statistical agency, Statistics Canada.
Canada’s Muslim population increased by 82 per cent over the past decade – from about 579,000 in 2001 to more than 1 million in 2011.
Muslims represent 3.2 per cent of Canada’s total population.