On Thursday last week my heart was feeling heavy, and so following my mother’s excellent advice that remembrance of the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him eases the heart, I went to the SeekersHub Toronto to hear Shaykh Ahmed Saad al-Azhari speak and to participate in the weekly mawlid.
Though I’ve been in Toronto for the past couple of months, this was my first visit to the new Hub location, and I’m so, so happy I made the trip finally. (God bless and reward the kind soul that helped make the journey easier by picking me up). If you haven’t visited the SeekersHub Toronto yet either, I highly recommend the trip. To start with, the space is beautiful. One wall features a large calligraphy piece by Toronto calligrapher Sehar Shahzad, and seeing this piece in person is worth the trip alone. Her work radiates love, and its wonderful to see local institutions supporting local artists.
But the Hub is so much more than a beautiful physical space. It almost felt like Eid that night- there were families and people of all ages in the Hub, and everyone was smiling, happy, and truly glad to be there celebrating the beauty of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. It was wonderful to see so many familiar faces and so many unknown ones, and to see how much the Hub has grown since I last lived in Toronto alhamdullilah.
And even though it had been a while since I’ve participated in a mawlid, it was a very accessible gathering. The evening started with a beautiful recitation of the Dua Nasiri, a powerful dua that applies to our world and to our everyday, individual lives. One line in particular that I found moving was the following:
“You are the One on Whom We call to remove our adversities,
and You are the One we hope will dispel our sorrows.”
To you, our Lord, we have stretched out our hands
and from You, our Lord, we hope for kindness.
Be kind to us in what You decree
and let us be pleased with what pleases You.
Since the Mawlid I’ve been listening to this dua constantly, and I highly recommend hearing this recitation of this moving, important dua. After the Dua Nasiri we recited a beautiful dua for rain, and again, hearing the dua and reading its meaning about physical and spiritual rain was a heart-softening experience.
Later on in the mawlid, Shaykh Ibrahim Hussain shared a beautiful Urdu naat with us, and though hearing about the Prophet in any language softens the heart and is beautiful, hearing poetry in a language where I can appreciate the subtlety of the poetry without the intermediary of translation was my favourite part of the gathering. Sidi Nader Khan also shared an Urdu naat with us that was exceptional, and such moments are the ones have the most impact on my heart. Alhamdullilah for the diversity of forms of praise about the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him!
The mawlid closed before Maghrib with Sidi Nader treating us to an bluesy-jazz number in English that was extraordinary, and something we could all participate in through the chorus of “laa ilaha illAllah”. By this point in the gathering, I felt so much joy and happiness, and felt markedly different from when I walked into the door. Alhamdullilah for this deen and the light of faith, alhamdullilah for the beauty and mercy of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, and alhamdullilah for the beauty and company of fellow believers! Truly, reflecting on the gifts we’ve been given make external challenges so much easier to deal with, and the Hub facilitates such remembrance.
After Maghrib Shaykh Ahmed Saad al-Azhari gave a powerful reminder (I highly recommend listening to it in its entirety!) about how the Qur’an should change our lives (notes below) and people stayed after the lesson for Isha, to drink delicious Moroccan tea (everything about the Hub is sweet) and to catch up and meet new friends and old. All in all, it was a night of tranquility, and I look forward to my next visit insha’Allah!
Shaykh Ahmed Saad al-Azhari
- The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him told us, “Surah Hud and its sisters have made my hair turn grey ( surahs like Surah Waqiah, Surah Yaseen)
- Why? What is that heavy thing that Allah has put on the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, hair turn grey?
- It turns the hair grey of people of himma and zeal. Those who want to serve others. Those who want to serve others, help others, they are always worried.
- Mum and Dad can attest how it feels when their children are away from them. Parents are always worried when their children are away from them.
- Story of someone who asked a Bedouin which of his children are most beloved to you? And instead of naming a particular child, he said, “the one who is travelling until s/he comes back home, the sick one until he is cured, and the young until he grows.” Basically saying always will be worried about his kids, always will be concerned about his kids. And this is how a person who knows what Allah has placed on his shoulders has to feel.
- The one who doesn’t have himma, concern, zeal, won’t have a mission. Won’t have anything to live for.
- The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, when he was reading the Qur’an, he wasn’t reading the Qur’an just for sake of ecstasy or for the sake of ibadah, but he was reading the Qur’an because that is the plan for saving humanity. He was reading the Qur’an to understand how he could save and help humanity.
- When we come together in a mawlid like this to talk about the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, we need to reflect and think about, “How can we use the Qur’an to save humanity?”
- There is a whole humanity out there that is suffering. People today have exhausted souls. Many people in the West, not short of money, not short of dunya, but short of guidance. Short of relaxation. Cannot soothe people until we care for them. People just need to have some care.
- Allah will ask us what we have done to save humanity.What have we done to save people? What have we done to represent the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him? To share in his concern?
- If you claim to love the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, you have to inherit that. If your parent passes away, have to carry on their responsibilities. If he has some debts or things to sort out, you have to sort them out. If you claim to love the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, cannot just be lip service. A man came to the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him and said, O Prophet, I love you. And the Prophet said, “ok, you will be poor”. And the man said, “I love Allah.” And the Prophet said, “ok be sure you will be tested.”
- Claiming you love the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him means you have to carry the responsibility of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. Have to carry that hamn of the Prophet.
- Prophet’s concern deprived him from enjoying life, sleeping nights. Deprived him from enjoying a single moment for his own sake.
- Even when he was reading the Qur’an, peace and blessings be upon him, he was worried about what will happen to the Qur’an. How can I save humanity?
- When we read the Qur’an, al -Fatiha, should ask ourselves, Are we good representatives of people guided to the straight path? What have we done to take people to the straight path? How is the straight path manifested in our lives? Is our life a manifestation of the straight path?
- Do we actually take the straight path? Do we take a straight course of action in every aspect of our lives? Or do we try to take the shortcuts? When we say the path of those who have favoured..What have we done to claim the company of those whom Allah has favoured? What have we done to claim we belong to them? What have we done to claim we can join them?
- Reading the Qur’an is not just a recitation. If read properly, will turn our hair grey. If read properly, the Qur’an will fill us with zeal. It is zeal that filled the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him when he walked to Taif. When he asked, “Who will protect me until I deliver the word of Allah?” He was not worried about his safety, or about his life to be maintained, he worried about delivering the message. He was a man with a message, peace and blessings be upon him.
- It was this himma, this zeal that caused him to sleep on a straw mat. He could have lived a life of a king, but he chose the straw mat.
- Hamn and himma, that caused him to enter Makkah with his head down out of humbleness to Allah. His concern is to guide people to Allah.
- For the people of dawah – and by the way we are all people of dawah, we are the ummah of dawah – we have a responsibility for dawah. The people of dawah deliver without expectations. They spend their life in service of others.
- Person who lives for themselves, lives one life. And the one who lives for others, lives forever. May Allah enable us to live forever so when we leave world, don’t just become a memory, or don’t just become a stone on which are names are mentioned. Instead we become a good memory in the hearts of people, and in the presence of the malaika.
As always, all mistakes in note-taking are my own. If you find these notes or other entries of benefit, please do take a moment to make dua for a Toronto youth named Ali Saeed who passed away last week and if possible, recite some Qur’an on his behalf.