A platform for renowned scholars; a catalyst for community dialogue; and, for hundreds, an opportunity to serve.
One of the highlights of the year for the Muslim community in North America is the annual Reviving the Islamic Spirit conference held in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. With over 20,000 attendees from around the world, and online live streaming in over 64 countries, this conference features some of the most prominent speakers in the Muslim world today.
The main program is the highlight of the three day event, but also featured is a bazaar and various community outreach initiatives. Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah, Shaykh Omar Suleiman, Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan, and Imam Zaid Shakir were among the favourites who returned to RIS this year, but the program also featured new speakers such as Sr. Salma Yaqoub and Shaykh Muhammad Ninowy.
This year, the conference took place from December 26 – 28 and featured the theme, “He Came to Teach You Your Religion: Prophetic Answers to Angelic Questions”. The speakers managed to embody a range of topics within this theme: environmental stewardship, political activism, the roots of atheism within history, and more. Talks ranged from reminders of basics to exploration of selected ayahs from the Quran, and even an interactive session on the religious significance of physical fitness.
So why would hundreds attend this conference without intending to listen to all these addresses? It’s not a mass boycott: they’re your volunteers.
For over 400 volunteers, including myself, these three days are spent serving the tens of thousands of guests attending the convention. Registration, ushering, multimedia and dozens of other areas; the job of a volunteer begins months before the convention doors even open.
The length of an average day is about ten hours: these ten hours are spent giving directions, processing tickets, distributing programs, checking wristbands, coordinating shifts, resolving conflicts, communicating feedback, fulfilling requests, providing information, and more.
And we couldn’t be happier to be serving you.
Volunteering with RIS might mean not attending every lecture or spending time with friends, but it does mean placing the experience of over 20,000 people before your own: an entirely humbling experience with lessons of its own to impart.
Each year, the number of volunteer applications continues to increase. For months beforehand, hundreds gather to facilitate an environment for those in attendance to learn, connect with communities, and enjoy themselves within a beautiful atmosphere.
The invaluable opportunity given to volunteers is to assist in the success of an event that reaches enormous audiences to deliver Islamic knowledge. RIS has given us the opportunity to end the year doing khidma (service) for the sake of Allah, which in and of itself revives the Islamic spirit.
At the end of the day, whether a volunteer or attendee, the three days of RIS are enjoyable at the very least and at best, utterly inspiring.