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!