In my experience, a common trend for events geared toward Muslim youth is the ones highlighting recreational activities have the largest turnouts. Surprisingly, this didn’t seem to be the case at MYNA’s third annual Islamic Character Development (ICD) retreat, which had about 40 youth in attendance for an intensive program covering topics relating to challenges Muslim youth face today. Held at McMaster University, July 7th-9th, the ICD retreat brought together youth from a number of different cities including Waterloo, Mississauga, Oakville, Ancaster, Milton, and Hamilton.
After dinner on the first evening, the program began with a lecture by Br. Usman Siddiqui reminding everyone of how changing yourself for the better requires serious pursuit, and the program closed with a lecture by Br. Yasin Dwyer on finding purpose in life. The vast majority of attendees opted for the overnight accommodations offered at Hamilton Downtown Mosque and got to know one another with a series of activities before going to sleep.
The next morning, breakfast was served at the mosque and the lecture series continues with Br. Ehab Soliman on peer pressure and individuality before the group headed back to McMaster. While breaks were taken throughout the program for salah and meals, Saturday featured sessions by a number of faces familiar to MYNA events: Hiba Ahmed, Safiah Chowdhury, Mahmood Haddara and Mostafa Soliman. The day concluded with a session by Imam Ibrahim Hindy on guilt and hopelessness before the youth were driven back to the mosque for the night.
By the last day, the late night activities had taken their toll on everyone but the attendees looked forward to the upcoming sessions. After breakfast and clean up at the mosque, Dr. Yaser Haddara delivered a lecture on the importance of trust between Muslims, a large group discussion was held, and after lunch, the final and most popular session took place led by Sh. Hosam Helal, which was an open question and answer period. Questions ranged from those relating to topics covered earlier in the program to those about halal banking, the role of maḏāhib and how to approach learning about Islam systematically.
In the constant company of such great mentors, the only limits to gaining insight were one’s own motivation and of course, time restraints. Fortunately MYNA continues to organize events with similar opportunities throughout the year, so if anyone missed the chance to attend the ICD retreat, keep a look out for similar programing in the future!
Special shoutout to the management at Hamilton Downtown Mosque for being so accommodating, MYNA counsellors for all their hard work, and to all that came out! May Allah SWT allow our youth to be among those shaded on the Day of Resurrection, and continue to bring our communities together in pursuit of His pleasure, ameen.