بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Things are different here. The incessant stream of Tweets have been replaced by the musical chirps of real birds. I feel something in my pocket vibrate…no wait, there’s no service out here—false alarm. The world is slower now. There’s more meaning here, more presence. I can actually smell the fresh air as I breathe it deep into my lungs. As I gaze upon the creation of Allah and the intricacies of life from the trees to the smallest of insects, I’m reminded by the words of Allah the Exalted, “We shall show them Our signs in every region of the earth and in themselves, until it becomes clear to them that this is the Truth. Is it not enough that your Lord witnesses everything?” (Quran 41.53) Away from the empty sense of “connectedness” given to me by social media, I feel whole again. Disconnecting from creation allows for one to reconnect to the Creator. In this natural environment, I feel sakeenah.
Earlier this month, I was fortunate to be part of the Sakeenah Retreat along with other teachers and sincere students seeking to connect to Allah and His Messenger through learning about this noble deen. One of the things that strikes me about the retreat format—as opposed to other beneficial ways of learning such as conferences and lectures—is that there is a deeper impact on the hearts. Being removed from our habits and daily routines allows us to reevaluate our priorities and direction in life with a refreshed sense of clarity. There’s a more profound connection to the guidance of Allah and His Messenger when we are removed from the worldly distractions we’re surrounded by in city life.
At Sakeenah, we were able to spend quality time together, pray together, remembering Allah together, tell stories of the Companions around the campfire, and really live together as an organic community of faith. One of the things that impressed me the most was the level of curiosity of the students in attendance. They sought knowledge with an insatiable thirst. They asked relevant and practical questions, looking for Allah’s pleasure in every aspect of their lives. It was encouraging and invigorating to see the light in their eyes as they heard a new story about the Beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace and mercy of Allah be upon him). It gave me hope for the Ummah, knowing that Allah has a plan even in the most troubling of times.
After four days spent in reflection, companionship, and remembrance, we felt revived. As we cleaned up our cabins and packed our bags, there was a sense of collective sorrow. We all knew that those moments of peace and presence would be replaced with constant notifications and spiritual distractions. We were going back into the belly of the beast, and none of us were sure how we would fare. But despite the sadness and nervousness, we felt hopeful that we would be going back with a deeper connection to our faith. Whatever the world had for us, we now knew that Allah is our sufficiency, and He is the best caretaker. And in that certainty, our hearts were at peace.