This year, RIS brought back the spirit of the popular conference in the middle of summer!
Friday the 19th of August marked the launch of the first Revolution Within Tour hosted by Reviving the Islamic Spirit. The tour began in London on Friday, continued on to Toronto and Mississauga on Saturday and ended off with Ottawa and Montreal on Sunday. All in all, the tour lasted 3 days and travelled to 5 cities bringing 6 renowned speakers and artists to each event. The tour included Shaykh Mohamed Ninowy from Atlanta, Linda Sarsour and Imam Khalid Latif from New York, Ustadh Feraidoon Mojadedi from California and Dr. Munir Al-Kassem and Dawood Wharnsby from Ontario. A stellar lineup of speakers of various backgrounds each bringing their own take on what societal change while not losing sight of our connection with Allah entails.
The purpose of the tour was to take a moment to examine how we respond to challenges that we deal with on both a reactionary basis to world events and how we plan for our future as Canadian Muslims who are part and parcel of this society. Shaykh Ninowy and Ustadh Feraidoon spoke in detail about what it means to actively engage in society but also take time for self-care and to really work on our own spiritual journeys. As Shaykh Ninowy describes it, one should never hesitate to talk to Allah (SWT) because “the question is never if Allah (SWT) is close to you, the question is, are you close to Allah?” Ustadh Feraidoon noted that with any outward action you take, you should always take some time to reflect and contemplate because that is when the real personal transformation occurs. Further, Dr. Munir emphasized the importance of seizing every opportunity to learn from others, it was not a coincidence that Allah named three chapters of the Quran after different animals. That is to show us not to belittle anything that we can learn from.
Following these three talks was a talk and a singing session by my personal favourite Dawood Wharnsby. Dawood brought a unique perspective on what it meant to infuse art with spirituality and how art can serve as a tool for change within the community. His songs were a welcomed call for contemplation and action alike.
The talks that followed by Imam Khalid Latif and sister Linda Sarsour really honed in on the types of challenges one might face in community organizing or achieving societal change and how to respond to them. However, Imam Khalid Latif noted, that amidst all of that, one should also really take the time to be with people, listen to their stories and really try and take some of their pain away and empathize with their individual journeys. The large societal transformations are not achievable unless we learn to learn from each others’ narratives. Finally, sister Linda concluded with a positive message on standing tall as a Muslim Canadian that is proud of their identity and proud of their beliefs. She asserts that “we must not succumb to fear, we will not change the way we look, how we pray, where we pray and who we are. We have to be unapologetically Muslim.”
On that note, the event concluded leaving me feeling like I had gotten a dose of energy from each speaker. They each completed the message of the other in their own way, painting a complete picture of what it meant to be an activist or someone who is genuinely concerned about the community whilst not losing hope or faith in the process, instead using this as an opportunity to build a stronger and closer relationship with Allah (SWT).
As RIS celebrates its 15th anniversary this year, this tour served as a prep session for many of us who’ve grown to schedule the conference as part of our December calendar to anticipate this year’s and look forward to it. For others who’ve attended an RIS for the first time during this tour, this was a short trailer for the upcoming conference and what they would get to experience if they were to attend. Needless to say, many veteran RISers and first-timers alike left excited for the conference this year, and how it promises to tackle even more challenging subjects that pertain specifically to the Muslim, Canadian community.