This past weekend ISNA Canada held their annual convention at the ISNA Canada Masjid in Mississauga. And despite my full intentions to get there on time, I got lost on the 1st Day of the Convention, and only reached the masjid near the end of Shaykh Ahmed Saad al-Azhari’s lecture on Surah Kahf. What I heard was excellent though, and a good reminder to critically evaluate one’s time and energy in virtual spaces, to strive to have consistent behaviour regardless of who you are interacting with, and to have patience with the learning process.
After Shaykh Ahmed Saad spoke, Dr. Altaf Hussain gave a lecture on creating happy marriages and living “happily ever after.” He spoke about the importance of resisting the urge to have an elaborate wedding, and to focus instead on how a couple will live their life together afterwards. Once married he said, we need to focus on stopping “micro-aggressions” before they create major problems in our relationships, and build partnerships where dua and praying together and for each other are at the core of one’s shared life. Finally, he also addressed and you could hear the seriousness, emphasis and frustration in his voice as he spoke, about the importance of remembering that the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him and Khadijah, may Allah be well pleased with her, had an age difference between them. As communities and families he said, we must stop assuming that women past a certain age/are older are unacceptable spouses. I stayed for that lecture as well before heading back downtown.
I was a bit shaken from getting lost and so my notes from the 1st day are very basic, but I’ve included them below. I’m not normally a conference -goer, but was really impressed by the quality of the ISNA Canada Convention. The volunteers were polite, there were so many families and young people in attendance, the bazaar was lovely, the masjid was beautiful, and throughout the whole event, you could tell that several months of planning and careful thought had gone into this weekend. Every lecture in the main hall had a sign language interpreter on stage to make the event more accessible, and the entire conference had a strong sustainability focus. Every registrant was given a refillable water bottle and there were no plastic water bottles sold at the conference alhamdullilah. May God bless and reward in the best of ways all those involved in this conference, and enable us to implement what we learned insha’Allah. It truly was a beneficial, needed weekend.
Shaykh Ahmed Saad al-Azhari
- We need to be true seekers of God
- Go to your cave and create your own space. A cave is a mercy.
- Social media invades our privacy.
- Facebook, Twitter are virtual spaces, and we spend more time in these virtual spaces than we do on our prayer mat, than we do on our own selves.
Rabatna – be faithful to our principles
- Disengage like the youth in the cave. Let this be a creative disengagement, a productive disengagement.
- Be like a mat in a house. The mat will not move until you move it.
- Don’t focus on non-beneficial differences between people.
- Life in a cave, you do not need much.
- Stop evaluating people’s opinions based on your own monolithic view
Surah Kahf talks about 2 people with gardens.
- One man says, “We gave, we made. The other person is attributing things back to God.
- The surah is teaching us a tool of navigating latter days is faith. Not about the things we possess, about the quality of our faith. Not about the quantity of our possessions, about the quality of our faith.
- We cannot divide our moral integrity. We must be principled in all circumstances. Cannot be a lion in some circumstances, and an ostrich in others. Need to have the same principles with friends and with enemies.
- We connect with Musa alayhis salaam. He is mentioned more in the Qur’an than any other Prophet, and he helped reduce our prayers from fifty prayers to five, peace be upon him.
- We learn about learning and the importance of patience from Musa alayhis salaam. Today people will rush to retweet information before verifying information. We are in an age of e-gossiping. We need to build a wall of principles.
- Judge not things as you see them, because the reality of them may be hidden. Switch off external eyes so you can see with internal eyes.
Session 2: Happily ever After with Dr Altaf Hussain
- Before marriage, think about the taqwa of the person.
- Your spouse is a sign of your Lord. Your Lord has a spouse for you.
- Your spouse is where you achieve tranquility, where you live.
- Surah Rum: “And among His Signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves, that ye may dwell in tranquility with them, and He has put love and mercy between your (hearts): verily in that are Signs for those who reflect.”
- We need to think about the way we hold weddings.
- The weddings of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him were very simple. Just had bread and meat. That’s not a dish, those are ingredients!
- Nowadays, we spend more in the celebration of marriage than thinking about the life of the couple. We see in the marriage of Ali and Fatima though, may Allah be well pleased with them both, the simplicity of the marriage. Ali had a dress, a sword and a camel.
- We get to know potential spouse beforehand, but truly, you get to know someone afterwards. For a happy home, we need to give people space, understand their thinking and temperament. Your anger, your human tendencies, all come out when you’re married.
- Advice: Marry someone whose strengths are your weaknesses.
- Conflict is natural. It’s how we deal with it that matters.
- Marriage problems develop over small things, what we call in counselling “micro-aggressions.”. When you don’t say salaams when you walk in, or you say it frowning, but five minutes earlier you were in the driveway on a conference call, smiling and being friendly.
- Advice: Families, do not let go of proposals from older sisters simply because of their age.
- Advice: Do your marriage ceremony in the masjid and invite as many people as possible. Make it an open event. Even if you only serve juice, open it as widely as possible. You never know who will pray for you to have a beautiful marriage, and whose dua will be accepted.
Advice: The basis of success is dua, dua, dua. Praying together. Brothers will be the imam of their household, but they need to command the respect of their spouse. Pray together and pray for each other.