A R C H I V E S
Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Reflections on the Deen Intensive|
|10/03/02 at 00:32:43|
One of them nights where you just can't sleep, thinking about tooo much stuff!!! The Chicago Deen Intensive was such an amazing experience and sis Margie articulated it so eloquently :) My fav part was our last night sneaking out from our cabins after "LIGHTS OUT" and staring at the stars. We sat in a circle and said very little except dua's and nasheeds :) May Allah(swt) put baraka in all our lives.
Reflections on the Chicago Deen Intensive Program 2002
by Margie Abdelrazek
[This story is also available at www.msaknoxville.org]
Here are just a few thoughts I had when preparing for the DIP and when I was actually on my way to Camp White Eagle…
"Do I have enough paper?"
"I hate sleeping bags - rolling this thing up is a nightmare. Thank God, I don't sleep with a pillow."
Trying to overcome the insurmountable task of putting together an outfit that contained NO magnetic or metallic material to set off the detectors (alhamdulilah, I succeeded! ALLAHU AKBAR!)
"Hmm, should I put my scarf pins and safety pins in my carry on or are they going to give me grief about it?"
"Alhamdulilah, I am not flying United…"
On the Plane Rides:
"God, it's impossible to fit this sleeping bag in these retarded overhead compartments…yes I know I am backing up traffic in the aisle…Stop telling me how to place my luggage…Alhamdulilah, finally."
"It's so hard to sleep in these chairs…"
"Is it rude to ask for more snap pretzels?"
"Oops, I drank Coke…" (and enjoyed it, forgive me Ghada)
At O'Hare International Airport:
"I don't believe I wasn't searched the entire trip!!"
"Lord, WHERE is my luggage?"
"Umm, Saimah, exactly where am I supposed to meet you?"
"Oh great, no more daytime minutes. Guess I won't be answering my cell…"
At Devon St:("Desi-nasia")
"Where's the rest of the sari?"
"HOW MUCH?" I am not paying that much for a bunch of chudiya."
"How come none of the nice chudiya come in 2.8?!"
"Are we supposed to bargain with these people?"
"Are these ta'iyyas (kufis) going to fit my dad's head?"
"Tahoora has the best samosas!"
Friday Prayer at Jamaa' Annoor: (actually Dhuhr prayer is more like it)
"SubhanAllah, we are praying in a converted parking garage."
"How come we can't hear the Imam?"
At MCC: (Muslim Community Center of Chicago)
"Hmm, interesting décor…"
"I am hungry, let's go look for food…hey, look it's pizza. Alhamdulilah!"
"There's no ice for my coke…" (oops, there we go again)
"So why did we get here at 10am if we're leaving at 2pm?"
From MCC to Camp White Eagle:
"Hey, we got seats in the back of the bus! Cool."
"Camp Ontawana, we hold you in our hearts…"
"These seats suck - I can't get comfortable enough to sleep…soon, they're going to have to peel us off these seats…"
Saimah: "What do these people do with ALL THIS CORN?!"
"Watch out for that tree!"
Arrival at Camp White Eagle:
"We ARE in the middle of nowhere…"
"Gary would be a cool Muslim." (inshaa Allah)
"This IS where I am supposed to sleep? I can't even get up there!"
"Oh, it's just a mouse" (the first of three, Mickey, Minnie, and Mr. Jangles. I suggested Bruce Wayne for the bat)
"My cabin mates rock!" (I am still convinced that Cabin #2 was the coolest cabin)
And now I will share with you the most memorable moments I experienced at DIP 2002.
When I first applied to the Deen Intensive Program, it was out of a desire to be “up close and personal” to two great Shuyukh, Sheikh Hussain Abdulsattar and Sheikh Abdallah Al Adhami. But on closer inspection, I discovered it was an attempt to the set the proper foundations for my deen, because I would be with people who were sincere in improving themselves and who had traveled this journey before me; and so, they could help point me in the right direction in the beginning of this journey to Allah, which I hope Allah makes easier for me to get closer and closer to Him, inshaa Allah.
On my application, I was trying to be myself because I thought it was really important to show them that I was not some great person, but a lost person with a deep sense of cynicism and a hard heart that maybe Allah would be Merciful towards and guide. I was really unsure about which school of fiqh (jurisprudence) to study because I am totally ignorant and it’s like trying to buy a car when all you know about is cookies. So I just marked “Not Sure” and hoped that Allah would point me in one direction or another. Actually, I think that was one of my biggest worries about the DIP: do I study Shafi’i fiqh or do I study Hanafi fiqh? And at the
time (before the DIP), I thought this whole madh’hab issue would be decided overnight, but I later realized that this is not the case – it’s a journey that can take a lifetime.
The trip the DIP itself was pretty smooth and I won’t get into details about that since I don’t think they’re that important to the scope of this piece. All I can say was that I was glad we were in a remote, isolated spot and that my cell phone wasn’t getting any reception – I think it was important to get away from “civilization” and its distractions to concentrate on getting back onto the right path after straying so miserably for the past several years (and may Allah forgive us for straying and shower us with His Infinite Mercy). I was a little hesitant when they started going through the schedule and timetable of events, since I am not a morning person AT ALL, but I thought I would put my whines and complaints aside and realize what I was here for.
The goals of the DIP were many in my humble and ignorant opinion: to study the basic elements of our beliefs (aqidah), to study the more important acts of worship as described by the Shafi’i and Hanafi Schools (mainly purification, ablution and fasting), to learn about our beautiful Prophet (alayhi asalat wasalam) in order to love him more, to develop ties of community and suhba (companionship), and to get a better understanding of what we as Muslims in America must do as individuals and as members of society as a whole. The DIP had arranged a wonderful and truly beautiful group of Shuyukh to enlighten us and bless us with their nur (light). Since the Shuyukh were very busy, we had what could be considered a revolving door schedule. In the first part of the week, a group of Shuyukh was teaching and when they had to leave, another group came in to take their place. For this reason, we were able to experience the different teaching styles and subject matter, which I thought was a blessing from Allah: the more, the merrier.
The first lessons of the day were right after Fajr (and the recitation of Surat Yasin) and they were the Shamaa’il Al Tirmidhi, taught by the absolutely nur-filled, totally “barakah-fied” Sheikh Hussain Abdulsattar (we also had a second Shamaa’il session after Maghrib). In these lessons, we were able to cover some of the ahadith compiled by Imam Tirmidhi about the characteristics of our glorious Prophet (alayhi asalat wasalam). After all, to know someone is to love them. And what better treat than to have someone so beautiful like Sheikh Hussain, mashaa Allah (and may Allah always protect him and his family) talk about the Prophet (alayhi asalat wasalam). SubhanAllah, it was one of the most memorable experiences of my life and I felt a spectrum of emotions: from the genuine curiosity about the Seal of the Prophet to the deep sadness from his death. It was truly an amazing experience and I thank Allah for being so merciful for letting me experience that.
The more entertaining lessons filled with neat little factoids (for example, the invention of the ice cream cone by Anas Hamawi at the 1902 World’s Fair) had to be ”Presenting Islam in America” by Dr. Omar Farooq Abdallah. The man is a walking encyclopedia of little known facts, amazing mashaa Allah. He discussed the grave task of trying to find our identities in this American society without being isolationist or hateful toward non-Muslims. In fact, we even had a group discussion where the different cabins presented short talks about the material we had covered. Unfortunately, Dr. Abdallah had to leave during the middle of the week, but having the power-packed Imam Siraj Wahaj deliver the remainder of the lectures was a great reward in and of itself. He also discussed the importance of finding our roles in this country and how we should not turn our backs on the non-Muslims. After all,
if it hadn’t been for da’wa, neither Imam Siraj nor Imam Zaid Shakir would be Muslims today as they both pointed out.
The aqidah lessons were delivered by the enchanting yet tranquil Sheikh Faisal Abdur-Razzak and had to be one of my favorite lessons at the DIP. Normally, the aqidah lessons were in the morning, and I admit even though Sheikh Faisal was captivating, I had serious problems staying awake. So since I thought aqidah was more important than breakfast, I used to sleep during breakfast and alhamdulilah, I no longer felt sleepy. And so Allah was kind enough and merciful enough to let me experience my first Ijaza (certification) in the Hadith of Rahma (Mercy). Since I don’t have the entire sanad (chain of transmission), I can’t quote the Hadith because I won’t be doing it justice. The beauty of our deen is that is it is a living tradition, passed down through the generations by our venerable scholars who also uphold the awesome task of protecting it and preserving it.
The fiqh classes were jam-packed with information. I am really blessed that the DIP had such an easy-going atmosphere because I used to jump around from the Shafi’i and Hanafi fiqh sessions (they were held at the same time). I started off in the Hanafi fiqh sessions taught by Sheikh Hussain and later, Sheikh Faisal. Near the middle of the week, I hopped over to the Shafi’i sessions led first by Sidi Omar Quraishi (totally adorable and mashaa Allah so patient – we asked him so many retarded questions, it was embarrassing) and then by the AWESOME Imam Zaid Shakir. Alhamdulilah, I was doubly blessed because I was able to learn basic information about purification and prayer from both schools of thought. I really enjoyed that because it’s important to know that there are differences in the schools of thought, to accept them and respect them. All four schools of thought are correct and deserve equal veneration.
Imam Zaid was also the teacher for our Hadith sessions (can you imagine the fun?!). He presented us with the Mandh’umiyya Baquniyya, a poem of sorts outlining the classification of Hadith and the terminology associated with the classification of Hadith, as in what is Hadith Sahih, as opposed to Hadith Mutawattir and so forth. These lessons were taught at various times of the day, depending on the schedule of the other Shuyukh. They were so busy, so jazahum Allah khair for taking time out to help educate ignorant peons like myself.
Apart from the lessons, we were also learning good habits to take back home with us. For example, after Fajr prayer, we would recite Surat Yasin out loud in a group, so that all those who knew not how to read or pronounce the words could learn. Plus, after doing it for a few days, your morning rituals seem incomplete if you don’t read Yasin after Fajr. After Maghrib, we did the Ratib out loud, although I always lost count of my la illaha illa Allah’s with or without my sibha. So that’s something I still have to work on. As for the end of the night, after Isha we recited Surat Al Mulk together. And on Friday, we had a set time where we could congregate to read Surat Al Kahf together, which was really a blessing for me, since my ignorant self had not been practicing that beautiful deed. Who am I fooling, I didn’t even know about the rewards of reciting Surat Al Kahf on Jum’ah. The first time I read it, it took me a few hours just to stutter my way through it, so may Allah continue to bring me out of darkness and into the light!
Another thing I really enjoyed was the suhba of my cabin mates. I am so blessed to have been with such a cool group, and that is an understatement. People will say that I am biased, but my cabin mates were really the best. We had so much fun doing menial things like cleaning up our cabin, cleaning up the bathrooms and the mess hall (our camp was a self-service camp,
meaning that each cabin took turns cleaning up the facilities). Even when we all got yelled at for staying up past LIGHTS OUT (and we were even discussing ISLAMIC matters), it was worth it. When I was saying farewell salaams to my cabin mates the day we left, I was crying (imagine that) because of the sense of loss and bereavement. And so I hope that we will all meet again many times in this dunya and in al-Jenna inshaa Allah.
I guess I ought to wrap up this novel with some final thoughts from what I have gained (and this is more of advice for myself than anyone else – Allah knows I need it): never, never, never give up and no matter how bad things look, always have faith in Allah and His infinite mercy. Admit your sins and ask for forgiveness because Allah loves for His creatures to ask Him for help and guidance. The mercy of Allah is an infinite river so drink from it and never lose sight of the fact that Allah’s mercy will be our final salvation. We are so lucky – we can have an audience with Allah whenever we want, ask for whatever we want and yet do we? Or do we just whine and complain? We all should be thankful for what we have, wa alhamdulilah ya Rab Al Alameen. Being Muslim is a blessing, so don’t be afraid to show it. For every nasty look or whisper we get, remember Allah and our beautiful Prophet alayhi asalat wasalam. He had to endure far worse than us, so we should stop complaining and hold the banner of Islam high. And the Prophet was kind to his enemies because he knew that good might come of them or their progeny (like Khalid ibn Al Waleed and ‘Ikrimah ibn Abu Jahal who were such mighty foes to Islam on the slopes of Uhud). So be kind and open to the non-Muslims. I am not saying that we have to be apologetic about our deen – no way!!!!! – and cater to their every whim. No, we should behave to them in a fashion that reflects the beauty of our deen: the best da’wa is through our actions. And never, never forget that just because we say the shahada, it doesn’t mean we are going to waltz into al Jenna. No, we must be ever vigilant about our actions and our state of iman and spirituality. MAKE LOTS OF DUAH THAT OUR LAST DEEDS OUR GOOD ONES AND THAT ALLAH HAS MERCY ON US IN THIS LIFE, THE GRAVE AND THE AKHIRA!
Finally, I would just like to say alhamdulilah for everything Allah has blessed me with. If I have misinformed or misrepresented anything, may Allah forgive me and bless me with suhba of those who would correct me. And anything that has benefited someone, may the ajr go to those beautiful Shuyukh who transmitted the sacred knowledge to me. May Allah have mercy on me and ummat Mohammed alayhi asalat wasalam. Wa la illaha illa Allah, wa Mohammed abduhu wa rasaloohu.
FYI: Sis Margie got is a lil mixed up he he Cabin 8 was da best... :-X
|10/03/02 at 00:41:58|
Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board