Whenever a friend goes on an interesting journey, and I’m blessed to have a number of friends who travel frequently, as soon as they tell me that their tickets are booked to morocco/egypt/south africa/paris/halifax etc, we have a conversation where they announce the booking of tickets, and I do a dance of excitement and make them pledge sincerely to tell me everything about their travels, pray for me while they’re away, and take loads of photos. If you follow pieces from terry*, I’ve written about my slight travel obsession here, and more recently, here too.
So with all the intense questions I have, tis always delightful when I leave for lil travel adventures of my own. Tomorrow, (hurrah!) I leave for Toronto to participate in a wonderful, amazing, beautiful week of soaking up jewels of Islamic learning. During the first three days, I’ll be participating in a giant convention called Reviving the Islamic Spirit with thousands upon thousands of people from all over, and for five days thereafter, I’ll be taking part (insha’Allah) in a five day retreat (called the Knowledge Retreat) with a handful of teachers teaching more focused classes and going through a text of their choosing.
And the trip is surrounded by many exciting things. I’ve never been to Toronto in the winter, I’ve never been to RIS/the KR, I haven’t been in a ‘in person’ class since a weekend intensive 15 months ago and a study trip to Saudi Arabia about a year and a half ago, and frankly, I’m a little bit nervous about how everything will go. That big trip I mentioned, the Saudi one, was called a Rihla, which relates to the idea of al-rihla fi talab al-’ilm or travel in search of knowledge. This feels like that, travelling in search of benefit, and it feels momentous. I’ve been so busy with things lately that the excitement factor went away for a bit, but a few minutes ago as I printed out the convention schedule and read about all the different topics on the agenda, from race relations to youth to the environment, all presented by wonderful teachers from all over the world, the excitement came flooding back.
Which brings me to the blog. In the past I’ve always been intensely curious about the RIS: the ambiance, the amusing stories, the gems from the speakers, the people, really I’ve wanted to know it all! So this year, as I journey through all the different parts of the conference, I’ll share them here insha’Allah (God willing). Not just what speakers are saying, but the experience of being there, the people I meet, my adventures in class, surviving scary toronto temperatures, you name it, as I madly take notes and try to absorb and make the most of the hugeness of the experience, I’ll try my bestest to spread the joy. I’m hoping this can be an accessible space, but if I’m using terms and lingo and not explaining, please let me know!
Peace for now. I’ve got an early flight to catch!