Many people asked how it went…what it was all about…and if it was worth it…
All I do is smile in reply…and here’s why…A speech I wrote for the end of Ilm Summit…”truly, it changed my life”..
As students of knowledge, it serves us a great reminder to reflect on what we are told by Allah azza wa jal in surat Al-Baqarah verse 32 when the angels said:
They replied: “Limitless art Thou in Thy glory! No knowledge have we save that which Thou hast imparted unto us. Verily, Thou alone art all-knowing, truly wise.”
(قَالُواْ سُبْحَانَكَ لاَ عِلْمَ لَنَا إِلاَّ مَا عَلَّمْتَنَا إِنَّكَ أَنتَ الْعَلِيمُ الْحَكِيمُ (2:32
I recall aimlessly reading my textbooks in a weak attempt to study for finals. My mind was racing with thoughts of Ilm Summit and my heart beat with fear at the mere thought of being denied entrance. Five months later, here I am Alhamdulillah, trying to grasp at some eloquent words in hope of doing some justice in recounting this one of a kind journey.
Ilm Summit for me started at around 5 am the day I received the bushra of acceptance. After listening to sheikh Yasir Qadhi’s description of Ilm Summit and the students who would be attending, it only made sense to do some major personal soul refining. For the next three months, anticipation kept escalating until it finally reached its peak the week before classes were scheduled to begin. One day I was booking the ticket, the next I was on an airplane examining a group of suspicious sisters. Could they be heading to the same place? Nah, what are the chances? SubhanaAllah, little did I know they would be searching with me for the same white vans we were promised to meet at the airport.
Waiting for the vans, I was experiencing a new feeling I had never felt before; a sense of ironic belonging as a complete stranger, and at the same time, fear-filled excitement. We came from different cities and even countries seeking the same thing, the pleasure of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala. And that on its own is a stronger bond that connected us than any other tie of this world could.
The past few weeks have been like a passing cloud of rain on a dry desert land. The cloud comes, benefits those it passes over, and leaves without goodbye. We came thirsty for knowledge and our thirst has barely been quenched…When I ask myself what I learned, I find myself asking yet another question: What did I know before I came here? You know that quote that says: “Everything I need to know I learned in kindergarten?” Well, Ilm Summit was my two years of kindergarten…I learned everything I need to know to keep on going from here onward inshaAllah. It is the beginning of a long path ahead, lit with the help and blessings of Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, encompassed by beloved shyookh as our teachers and role models, noble knowledge, and supporting peers. This experience was priceless, and if I can start over again, I would in an instance. Alhamdulillah infinitely that we are blessed to be here in this gathering…surrounded, inshaAllah, by angels, serenity, and tranquility. May Allah make this journey one that eases our paths to jannah and may He help us purify our intentions for His sake only inshaAllah.
The class material was by far more intense than anything I have ever sat through before, and for that, I’m sure we are all thankful…I really enjoyed the daily schedule and thought it taught many lessons of its own. It’s as if I got a box of pencil crayons of different shades of the sciences of this beautiful religion and now I’m ready to go experiment with the pencils, coloring my world as I go. Starting off with adaab, I learned how to better hold my tongue and I realized the zakah I am obliged to perform on this knowledge. Having my own copy of Saheeh Bukhari taught me a really important lesson: it is not scary to open up an Islamic sciences book! I really liked the idea of learning the table of contents and was amazed at how such an important book was organized…just the fact that the shuyookh had to explain to us how to use the book blew my mind away…Al-Bukhari rahimahullah must have been a real genius. I learned how to beautify and grow attached to my books by darkening their margins and I realized the importance of the Arabic language. As for the tafseer classes, let’s just say the next time I read any of the surahs we have contemplated, I’m sure it will be a totally different experience of its own…When it came to Fiqh, my respect for the fuqaha’ grew beyond belief…Living day in and day out learning about the four imams is a beauty of its own…Alhamdulillah for the differences of opinions that we have in our religion; truly, it makes many things easier! Qura’anic sciences instilled within me so many forgotten concepts and I’m sure we have all gained a different level of respect for the Qura’an…Alhamdulillah, I can finally explain, with confidence inshaAllah, why the Qura’an is the greatest miracle for all of mankind…(and I don’t know about others here, but I know I can’t wait to get my hands on Sheikh Yasir Qadhi’s book about the Qura’anic sciences!). Maqaasid Al-Shareeah was one of my favorite classes. It felt like watching one of those discovery channel programs on how things are made, if that makes any sense! I don’t think I appreciated our shareeah as much as I do now…One thing I realized was that the more we appreciate our shareeah and recognize that it’s really for our own good, the easier applying it becomes…As for the Aqeedah classes, I am truly thankful for a wonderful and easy to follow presentation of some of the toughest concepts I used to fear delving in. SubhanaAllah, it really made me appreciate the blessing of worshiping Allah so much more…The short yet very much missed balaghah session will not be forgotten. Being an arab myself, it really hit me hard to see someone so proficient mashaAllah in the Arabic language and this has only motivated me to understand the miracle of the Qura’an even more…If only we can read the Qura’an with complete understanding…I wonder what kind of an eman rush that would bring upon us. Maybe, we would be able to feel the angels descending down on us…..As for the history of Andalus, what can one say after hearing the poetry recited at the end of the classes…We are truly at a loss, but that does not mean we can’t bring it back…If our ummah did it once, why can’t we do it again? May Allah bless us with visiting the places we mentioned in class to taste what our past ancestors once lived through…and inshaAllah we can learn from their successes and mistakes for a brighter future for this ummah…
As for our role models, what can one say about our beloved shuyookh? And how can we ever do justice in thanking them? They are a blessing indeed. And I pray that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala rewards them for every second they spent gaining this knowledge and passing it on to us. I thank them for their support and motivation and for taking the time to even think of such an event! May Allah reward them for giving us the chance to taste such sincerity, patience, and passion in teaching others. Ilm summit would not have been the same without the eloquence of Sheikh Yasir Qadhi, the humbleness of Sheikh Yasir Birjas, and the passion Sheikh Waleed Basyouni conveyed in their lectures. I will always remember the difficulty in writing the words of Sheikh Yasir Qadhi; they’re SO elegant and well said you don’t want to miss a single word! I will never forget Sheikh Waleed Basyouni asking me to sit upright when I was leaning forward, and I will definitely always recall how Sheikh Yasir Birjas recited the beautiful poetry (and Hadeeth actually!) at numerous times during the two weeks. Our beloved Shuyookh, you have continuously inspired us and lit within us the flame and desire to continue seeking this sacred ilm. By the will of Allah, you have opened our eyes, and more importantly, our hearts to a new field waiting to be harvested. I’m sure I am not alone when I say that it was a real blessing for us to be able to connect with you…jazakumullahu khairan…
Asides from academics…the environment was exceptional, like none other…It was here that I learned that shamu is NOT an elephant, that I can handle eating some spicy food every once in a while, that British people are really sweet and not as snobby as we may think, that halal jokes can be hilarious, and that I can share a plate of food with a complete life stranger (but inshaAllah, a close friend in jannah). I also learned what it means to be a host. Hosna has really out-done our expectations and for that, I ask Allah to reward them with nothing less than Jannah inshaAllah…a place where they won’t have to worry about hosting anyone or listening to any of our whining/complaining.
Alhamdulillah, I think we can all say that we have been living in more bounties these past few days than we can enumerate. I pray that Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala continues to bless us with knowledge that benefits us and that He helps us in holding up to this huge responsibility that was placed upon us. I hope that this spirit of knowledge, the flame of eman and 3ilm (as Sh. Yasir Qadhi called it) continues to shine from here onward with the guidance of Allah azza wa jal. Our eman is souring high now and the way to keep it up is by staying on this track of acquiring and learning more. It is up to us now to take the keys we have been given and use them to get to the next level. Something we continuously heard was: “where there is a will, there is a way”. So I ask Allah azza wa jal to grant us this will, perseverance, and motivation to continue on this path and pave it for others as we go. Remember the proverb ( هتف العلم بالعمل فإن أجابه وإلا أرتحل) that we were taught and always remember to make duaa for beneficial knowledge as the prophet peace be upon him did.
When the Prophet peace be upon him was planning to leave Makkah, Abu Bakr alaihissalam asked him: الصحبه يا رسول الله؟ …and the Prophet peace be upon him said yes in reply…While I don’t know how it must have felt to travel and live with the Prophet peace be upon him, I am thankful that I was blessed with getting to know the sisters here during this short travel of mine…I learned something new from each and every single one of you and I pray that Allah azza wa jal gathers us again under His shade inshaAllah… I will not end with a goodbye but instead, I will say إلى اللقاء إنشاء الله …Until next time I see you all, whether on this earth or in jannah inshaAllah, remember to renew your intentions as you keep going forward and remember your fellow sisters, brothers, volunteers and most importantly, your shuyookh in your dua’as…Also, remember the poetry of Imam Al-Shafi’ee when he said:
شكوت إلى وكيع سوء حفظي *** فأرشدني إلى ترك المعاصي
و أخبرني بأن العلم نور *** و نور الله لا يهدى لعاصي
العلم صيد والكتابة قيده *** قيد صيودك بالحبال الواثقه
فمن الحماقة أن تصيد غزالة *** و تتركها بين الخلائق طالقه
علمي معي حيثما يمّمْت ينفعني *** قلبي وعاء له لا بطن صندوق
إن كنت في البيت كان العلم فيه معي *** أو كنت في السوق كان العلم في السوق
Seeking knowledge with you has been beautiful…may Allah continue to bless us with more of it wherever we may be…may He help us in teaching it to others and applying it…and may He reward you all with the blessings He has promised His believers…
And as Bilal radiya Allahu anh ended his life saying, غدا نلقى الأحبه … محمدا و صحبه , I pray that we also soon meet our Merciful Lord, beloved Prophet peace be upon him, and all those who fought hard and held steadfast…
And just for the record, because it was not in the speech, here it is: Laundry…