As I entered Hilton Americas in Houston, Texas last Saturday, a feeling of peaceful familiarity overtook me. Since moving from a major city on the east coast to a sleepy suburb on the other side of the country, I have endured the void that can only be filled by surrounding oneself with angels in a gathering of knowledge. This year’s IlmFest was exactly what I needed! It was such a breath of fresh air to listen to the lectures given by well-spoken students of knowledge and to be surrounded by over one thousand Muslims. It revived a piece of my heart that had been dormant since I left my hometown and made me feel the familiar stirrings of emotions evoked by hearing Qur’aan, Hadith, and stories of the past and present.
“Successful, indeed, are the believers…” The one message that resonated through the words of each speaker during IlmFest was that of optimism- optimism in times of hardship; optimism with our relationship with Allah; optimism for the future of our ummah in this life and the Hereafter; and optimism with regards to our own abilities and the impact that we, individually, can have. Throughout the day, the theme of success permeated stories of the past, the issues we face in the present and our hopes for the future. We reveled in knowing that we, as the slaves of Allah, have attained a type of success that no other role in our lives can ever match in honor. We were transported into the homes of our righteous predecessors and were inspired to utilize their examples to reform our characters. We began to view each day for what it is: a moment of glory that will never again be available to us; an opportunity to do something amazing with what Allah gave us. We set our sights towards the future as we aimed for our success and the success of our progeny, not only in this dunya, but in real life- the eternal one.
Reflecting back on this year’s IlmFest, I came away with one resounding point: Your situation is what you make of it. We all face trials but those who are successful are the ones who realize that Allah has given us the patience and fortitude to overcome these hardships. Shaykh Waleed Basyouni expressed this point while encouraging us to, “live our lives like victors, not victims,” while Shaykh Omar Suleiman embodied this message in his statement, “He who has no one has Allah, and he who has Allah needs no one.” IlmFest 2011 in Houston, Texas made me feel the way I felt when I took my first AlMaghrib class; I experienced a mixture of awe, excitement, contentment, and peace. I walked away that night, truly feeling as though my faith had been reinvigorated. “Successful, indeed, are the believers…” How will we continue this legacy and shape ourselves into the movers and shakers we constantly seek to revive this ummah?
(Contributed by: Sarah Sultan)