As the much anticipated Twins of Faith conference is gearing up to take place this weekend, we sat down with one of the event organizers, Sondus Jamal, to get a behind the scenes look at what to expect!
ISNA Lanterns: What is the significance of the Twins of Faith for you, personally?
Sondus: My story with Twins of Faith started in Malaysia, when I was attending the Mercy Mission Annual Summit. I had arrived a few days early and the team there assumed I had come for the conference, but until then I had never heard of it, to be honest. My first encounter with TOF was as a traveler and a stranger so I wasn’t tied down to familiar social interactions. It allowed me to create my own experience. Maybe it was the fact that I knew I had very little time there or maybe because I knew that the chances of me seeing any of the people I met there again were pretty slim, I guess I approached the experience with a different perspective. So the uniqueness of the experience definitely played a great part in situating TOF in the personal bracket of my life.
When I asked why the name ‘Twins of Faith’? The answer changed something in me. It allowed me to rediscover an old truth.
The person simply said وعملوا آمنوا, they believed and did. The essence of TOF is what excited me but it also made me reflect and come closer to internalizing that old truth. We are often held back not by what we know, but what we simply don’t act upon. It was the simplicity and depth of what TOF stood for that really left a lasting impression. So when I came back to Canada, I signed to be part of the team that brought it here, alhamdo lil Allah.
ISNA Lanterns: What makes this year’s conference different than the years before? Anything exciting you are looking forward to in particular?
Sondus: Twins of Faith is where knowledge meets action to inspire positive change. That’s the goal. So last year we focused on life in Madinah and what a model Muslim society looked like. We studied what made that time and that group of people different. How did random strangers become such strong brothers/sisters? This year the focus is on how can we make it happen? How can we have strong communities and how does change come about? So we found the ayah that answered those questions and made this year’s theme around it.
Ayat in Surat Al-Ra’ad: For each one are successive [angels] before and behind him who protect him by the decree of Allah . Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. And when Allah intends for a people ill, there is no repelling it. And there is not for them besides Him any patron. [13:11].
This year we are challenging our guests to awaken the better version within in order for us as a community to see that change. I am really excited to have the wide range of speakers that are coming such as Sh. Tawfique Chowdhury, Sh. Moutasem Al Hameedi, Sh. Sajid Umar, Sh. Navaid Aziz, Br. Ihsaan Gardee, Sr. Shahina Siddiqui, Sr. Rabia Khedr, Sh. Abu Abdissalam, Sh. Haroon Baqai, Sh. Alaa Elsayed , & Dr. Farhat Hashmi.
We also have an amazing line-up for hands on workshops and specialized children’s conference. We are also launching the champions program which brings together different organizations and/or individuals that focus on one agenda item – like poverty reduction – the goal is that they are expected to launch a collaborative initiative or something that outlives the conference day. We have never done this before so we are really excited about it.
ISNA Lanterns: How would you say your event is accessible to all?
Sondus: Our focus on accessibility started with how early we notified people of the event and how to get to it. We have a bus coming from the Tri-city area. We also are downtown which makes it easy for people in Toronto and people from out of town to access the subway and Go-Train/Bus. We also wanted to make sure CAM-D is a partner and we are fortunate to have sr. Rabia Khedr join us. We have setup sponsorship for attendees who the cost of the conference might be a barrier. Our goal for next year inshaAllah is to ensure we have more accessibility features like live note-taking and ASL translation like our sister conference Being ME.
ISNA Lanterns: Tell us more about the entertainment!
Sondus: We have three amazing artists joining us – two from the UK and one from Canada. We will be joined by Ilyas Mao, Faisal Salah & Khāled Siddīq. Khāled Siddīq will be coming to Canada for the first time and he will debut at TOF inshaAllah.
ISNA Lanterns: Thank you so much for your time. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Sondus: Thank you for this opportunity, it’s been great. If anyone has any questions or would like to know more simply visit twinsoffaith.com/toronto/
See you all on Oct 8th at Metro Toronto Convention Center from 9am – 10pm.