Sunday, July 25, 2010

Immersed in an orthodox environment

Bismillahi rahmani Raheem

First of all, I can't believe that 2 days are already gone. And this year we have a 8-day programme versus last year's 2 weekend immersion :( In no time, we will be getting ready to leave insha Allah. We have fewer subjects this year; I wish we had more time- I am sure many students are wishing for the same. Nevertheless, the classes are exciting, boosting the eman, bringing us closer to Allah alhamdulillah. I pray that Allah keeps increasing these essentials even after ilm Summit, aameen.

Before, I list the subjects and the Shuyookh who are educating us, just mentioning a gem that is on the tip of my tongue now. It is nothing new and you would have heard it before but nevertheless, it is alwas refreshing to be reminded:

Shaykh Waleed said (paraphrasing- not exact quote): All of us came out of our mother's wombs knowing nothing. Imam Bukhari, Imam Ahmed, me (Shaykh Waleed), you- we all came out knowing nothing. It is what we do, our sincerity, strong conviction, self-discipline that makes a difference. Always purify your intention.

Ok, now our subjects:
1. Tarbiyyah- Book on Zuhd from Jami' At-Tirmidhi - by Shaykh Yasir Qadhi

2. Heresiology - hot one :) and very exciting. - by Sh Yasir

3. Bid'ah- by Shaykh Waleed (I liked this the best so far. Subhana Allah, now I really really understand and appreciate why it is so important to learn Bid'ah to understand Sunnah better.

4. Maqasid- Ath-thaabit wal mutaghayyaraat (Constants and Variables)- no, not algebra. It basically deals with where in Sharia'h and Ahkaam, we can be flexible and where we have to be firm and Shariah legislation cannot be altered with time change and change in location and culture......And this was taught by.......(Islamic drumroll....or no, we were too humbled to even express our excitement by his presence amidst us....) Shaykh Salaah As-Sawy

He was basically doing a review of his book which is in Arabic. He spoke Arabic (masha Allah, very very eloquent and we had on the spot translation by Shaykh Mamdouh Mahmood masha Allah through our microphone headsets. It was cool! I don't know who is more admirable- Sh Sawy or Sh Mamdouh for the simultaneous translating expertise masha Allah, may Allah preserve them both.

Insha Allah we have more subjects (one of them being Islamic Financing taught by Shaykh Jamaal Zarabozo)- but these are what have started already alhamdulillah.

One main point I want to mention here our Shuyookh have really chosen the best topics to teach, in the sense that they have chosen each subject so wisely such that each topic, even though taught by different Instructors are in some way correlated or complement each other, and are also related to the subjects that we learnt in the previous Ilm Summits. Even the "Book of Zuhd" from Jami' At-Tirmidhi is related to the Heresiology that we are studying.

We are so blessed alhamdulillah to be in this place with these great people of our times- that were it that I couldn't attend any of the classes- I would still be obligated to be grateful. And this is because, if nothing (no note taking etc), I am still able to benefit simply from the environment and observing the akhlaq of our beloved shuyookh. It brings tears to my eyes. Subhana Allah, instead of the vice versa, they are literally pampering us. I feel this is something unprecedent in History that we are spoonfed so much, with good food (not to forget the dessert), the air-conditioned room, the liveliness of the style of teaching of the Shuyookh while in reality, we are supposed to take harships on the path of seeking ilm. I think this is a bigger hardship now- the fact that we are so spoilt makes it so hard to struggle and strive.

One incident in particular: Like mentioned before, Shaykh Sawy's class was transmitted to us in the English through individual headphones. And guess who literally sat on the floor, taking each headphone from the carton box and unwinding it, making sure it was working etc.....Shaykh Waleed! (may Allah reward him with Jannatul Firdous and give him a station very close to the Prophet Salla Allahu alaihi wasallam.) SubhanAllah....

May Allah make us among those who value knowledge and respect our Shuyookh, aameen!

Ps: In the title, I mention "orthodox" environment for lack of better words. Perhaps it is very irrelevant usage but what I mean by orthodox is the way of the righteous sahabah and scholars of the past

- the rich culture of true brotherhood where all of us are from different backgrounds, ethnicities and yet, we act like we have known each other forever- loving each other for the sake of Allah purely
- experiencing innocence and purification (the real one....:))
- if not to the level of the salaf , atleast an increase in appreciation for knowledge and authentic texts
- and more....

pps: If you happen to read this...please note that these are just my ramblings, I have no time to re-read this even.

Assalamualikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Train trip and now @ Houston, alhamulillah

Salaam Alaikum Waraahmatullah

Alhamdulillah, we are now in Houston having enjoyed and benefitted much more at Ilm Summit 2010.

We started on Tuesday 10 pm PST from our home and reached here on Friday morning alhamdulillah. The train trip was long obviously, but not as boring or uneventful as expected. Alhamdulillah the kids kept us busy.

We have been reflecting more deeply on "IN SHA ALLAH" and that Indeed He is the best of planners. On Wednesday, 45 mins before we boarded the train, I told my daughter, "Yaay, insha Allah, we are going to get on the train soon." She asks, "Why do you haveto say 'insha Allah' now? We are here already and just in minutes, we are going to be on the train." (My daughter is 3 and a half, and just so that you get a more visual picture, she has been waiting now for over a month for this train trip, as we have been planning to the best of our ability for many months.) Anyway, I told her that we still haave to remmeber that anything will happen only if Allah wills.
As we checked in our baggage, the officer for the reason of not having a proper ID with me, denied me a boarding pass subhana Allah and cancelled my ticket.

We gave up trying not to get upset and making dua' for the khair. My daughter made a lot of dua' too. Like an answer to our dua', the lady at the information desk approached us (Subhana Allah, Allah put that thought into her heart to come and help us out; she got out of her glass cube and came to us). Alhamdulillah, she was in control of the Texas Eagle administration (may Allah guide her to Islam) and here, we are by the Mercy of Allah. In the end, i can only think of good that came out of this small predicament or problem if I may call it so. my daughter understood why and how it is so appropriate to say Insha Allah even if you are going to do something the very next minute. And also, it gave us a chance to sincerely beg for forgiveness and ask Allah for help, renewing our intentions for coming on and so forth.

SubhanAllah, my second obstacle was our babysitter cancelled on us. Till last afternoon, I thought I wouldn't be able to attend classes, or we would have to take turns. Again, it made me reflect. After the hassle at the train station, you would think "ok, so now you are already at the place of the event. Unless you fall sick or Allah wishes to take your soul, you will attend". Not not having a babysitter though. Once again, Allah Azza wajal made it easy for all of us. For now, we found a babysitter. Let's wait and see what was in store for us insha Allah.

I missed few sessions yesterday but alhamdulillah I was able to attend since the babysitter arrived. May Allah bless her and reward her immensely.

The Friday "opening/ welcome session" was amazing. Just uplifted us to a whole new level of spirutiality and prepared our minds for the academia that we will be exposed to. Also humbled us greatly....for many facts, one of them being that here, we all were travelling students of knowledge who made efforts and spend our money to come here. But what we did is nothing compared to the likes of Imam Bukhari, Shafi', Malik and others (Rahimahum Allahu ta'ala). The likes of Jabir bin Abdullah radiya Allahu anh who travelled to hear one hadeeth- just one- and the probability is high that perhaps he had already heard it from the others (with longer chain of narrators and so he wanted to hear directly from the one who had heard it from the Prophet Salla Allahu alaihi wasallam). How much did they value knowledge and how much do we?

And the likes of Abu Ayyub Al-Ansari who travelled from Medina to Egypt for one hadeeth (the hadeeth of concealing your brother's fault in this world) when traveling in those days is not like our times. How much do you think he would have valued that hadeeth? That would naturally lead it to committed implementation. Today we do not value ahadeeth as it should be, otherwise we would hasten to implement it with much sincerity and conviction.

Insha Allah, I will post some gems soon. Got to run to class......

Monday, July 12, 2010

Countdown to Ilm Summit & A Big Question!

Bismillah Ar-Rahmani Ar-Raheem

Assalamualikum warahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu

I haven't been here for a long time now, 4 months or more. Alhamdulillah

I think it was because writing was becoming difficult for me due to the style of writing I had opted for, in the beginning. So, now I am going to change I am mainly going to ramble, or rather I write in the style that suits my mind insha Allah. I pray only good will come out of that, for myself and for readers (if any)

Plus, the guilt of whether I am implementing what I write about. Do I have the right to preach it? (Even though I was merely sharing what I learnt and not preaching anything new)

And then now...Now, I am thinking what benefit came out of that guilt and not blogging! When I used to write, I would hold myself more accountable of my actions...

So anyway...
Alhamdulillah, my husband and I got accepted for Ilm Summit this year. And we are preparing ourselves (more mental preparation required than just packing our stuff). I am praying that I will be able to share some of the things I learn and experiences from which I benefit or hope that others can benefit insha Allah.

Last Ilm Summit was our first time. We kind of knew what to expect from the experiences of the previous year's ilm Summitters, but experience is the best teacher. This year we hope we will do better and take more advantage of this blessing insha Allah and push ourselves to greater goals. For example, last year I was not able to attend the tajweed sessions after fajr as my kids would be sleeping in the room (and I would also sleep). This year, insha Allah I plan to pack a baby monitor. And even if that doesn't work out, insha Allah I hope Shaykh Uthman (from Shatibiyyah institute) will attend this year too, and that I will be able to recite to him so that he can critique my tajweed and teach me.

Another thing I want to do better this year insha Allah is sharing what we learn with others. And blogging will help insha Allah. For me, if I know I need to share or teach someone else what I learn, then I listen better. Last year, our Shuyookh stressed so much on teaching others what we learn. The image of Sh yasir telling it still rings in my head. One may feel he/ she is not knowledgeable enough to teach, but everyone can be a mere conveyer of what someone else just told you. And in order to do so with ihsaan, record and document well.

My biggest question- my kids! They are ofcourse, coming with us insha Allah, and we don't have a baby sitter yet. It is so difficult to find a good one local in Houston when we are here. (Anyone reading this and have any leads on this, please let me know. Jazakum Allahu kahyr!) last year, we had a wonderful baby sitter alhamdulillah, may Allah reward her abundantly- I still make dua' for her. I don't think she will be able to baby sit this year, plus now that my kids are older, I hope we can get someone who can teach-and-play with more activities and crafts etc. I pray Shaykh Yasir and Br Haytham will arrange atleast a room for baby sitting so that our kids won't be confined to the hotel room all day insha Allah. May Allah make it easy for us and our kids. I really don't want to waste their time while we enjoy!

Even though I said "my biggest question" above, that is not the "A Big Question!" mentioned in the title of this post. The real big question is: have I changed after my first ilm Summit experience? Ilm Summit is supposed to be the life-changing event in many people's lives- but have I nurtured the seed that we all had sown last year and watered it and taken care of the flower buds that I had envisioned? Well, I don't want to be pessimistic about myself (even though deep inside, I am not happy with myself), so I look ahead at the future insha Allah and hope to really learn from my mistakes. May Allah guide me always and increase me and all of you, aameen!