And it Begins! Habib Ali al-Jifri, Tariq Ramadan, and beautiful company.

Greetings friends! Day One of the Knowledge Retreat is done, and while proper notes/takeaways will come later insha’Allah, I jut wanted to blog some reflections quickly as I promised. In sum: today was beautiful. It started with meeting a group of strangers who quickly turned into new friends on the streetcar this morning, and that theme continued as I ran into old friends and met new ones throughout the day. Between interesting fellow learners and wonderful classes from morning to night, it was a rich day filled with learning, light and beautiful moments.

The two most personally meaningful parts of the day were the lessons we heard from Dr Tariq Ramadan (he leaves tomorrow so he did a double session today) where he taught about the life of the Prophet (may blessings and peace be upon him) before and during revelation. He mentioned a few key incidents and then commented on them with much detail, and overall, really challenged us to think about why we are seeking knowledge, how deeply we actually understand, and how we implement what we learn. Learning is about implementation.  Between his two sessions today and his sessions at the RIS yesterday (I made it to the last day of the convention) I feel like I have a lot to think over.

The other part of today that was really beautiful to witness was being in the company of Habib ali al-Jifri. I wrote about him last year, and it is no different being in his company once again. His humour, his character, his smile, his laughter, his joy, his intelligence, and his love for his students and what he is teaching is so palpable that it doesn’t matter where you are sitting in the room, it impacts you. He is speaking in Arabic, and while I catch a few things here and there, for the most part I rely on the translator, but that doesn’t detract from the depth of the class. He is teaching from the Shama’il, a text about the outward and inward characteristics of the Prophet, (may blessings and peace be upon him) and today’s introductory session was about the whole subject of love itself.  In the class we are really learning from two things though, the words of Habib Ali (the subject matter of the class), and then the manner and character of Habib Ali himself. He is extraordinary masha’Allah, and it’s such a blessing to be able to learn from him.

More later! For now, I keep thinking that there are so many incredible people attending the retreat, many perhaps studying the same thing or perhaps living in the same city, and it would be wonderful to share who we all are exactly so we can take our learning and implementation to a more local level once the retreat is done. Even flip chart paper on the back wall for people to share “takeaways”, “questions” and “actions they will implement afterwards” would be wonderful. Insha’Allah tomorrow I’ll try and find an organiser and see what they think. Will keep you updated! Salaams for now.


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