A cold winter’s day descended upon London. The day many have been waiting for as soon as Ilmfest was announced. Months of preparation, a fully-fledged marketing effort, a beautifully decorated hall…Saturday 31st December arrived.
London was blessed to host the first Ilmfest in the UK on Saturday 31st December 2011. Drawing crowds of over 1500 eager students, it was a spectacular day filled with insightful lectures and beautiful gems. Two coaches full of students arrived from Birmingham, with Qabeelat Fawz and another from Nottingham, bringing themselves and their accents to grace our presence.
QShams students had been campaigning for Ilmfest to hit the British shores since May 2009, with the first suggestions coming even in 2008!
A new family had formed, Qabeelat AlShams and Qabeelat Fawz came together to produce QShawz. The feeling of unity and immense brotherhood and sisterhood as always evident in AlMaghrib seminars, was most apparent at Ilmfest.
The day started with people excited and eagerly awaiting the shuyukh to take the stage and share some serious wisdom. QShawz even organised British Sign Language (BSL) interpretors to attend Ilmfest to cater for the deaf community. The shaykh talent show was an unforgettable experience which really saw the audience appreciate the talents of the shuyukh on a whole new level!
The mothers and baby’s room was also a resounding success, children were given an activity book, worksheets and even face-painting was on offer.
Hosted by brother Boonaa Mohammed, 8 instructors gave talks which created a real emanrush.
With flashbacks of Dr Reda’s cliffhanger story moments, Shaykh Muhammad’s awesome “juicy hamburger” lecture and Shaykh Riad’s unique style, Ilmfest 2011 really rocked London.
The only British instructor was Shaykh Ahsan Hanif, teaching us to ensure that we ask Allah for not just Jannah, but the highest level, Jannat al Firdaus. Shaykh Waleed Abdulhakeem was next to take the stage, we learnt that the dunya was the farm of the akhirah, whatever you sowed and planted in the dunya, the fruits of this would be seen in the Akhirah. Shaykh Navaid Aziz reminded us of the importance to pay Zakaat, the hand that gives is always better than the hand that receives.
Shaykh Kemal El Mekki made his premier appearance, giving us a taste of his “mean” jokes. On a more serious note, he reminded us that the tongue was a dangerous instrument, which would lead a great number of people to be in the Fire of Hell, may Allah protect us, ameen.
Shaykh Said Rageah reinforced the importance of women and the crucial role they play in society. Through raising the next generation, women truly have been given the ability to make great people and have a long-lasting impact. Dr Reda Bedeir provided a reality-check, quoting many ayaat to indicate that Allah has provided numerous commandments and prohibitions. There are boundaries set by Allah, which we really cannot afford to exceed. A truly thought-provoking lecture, ending with the reminder that we must turn back to Allah because we do not know if we will live to see tomorrow.
Shaykh Muhammad was next on stage. Providing 2 amazing tips for increasing our khushoo in salaah, the first was to at least once, consciously comprehend what we’re saying in rukhu and sujood. Secondly, to learn new adiyah and ayaat to recite and really contemplate about.
Last on stage was Shaykh Riad Ouarzazi, helping to highlight the differences between men and women and also offering precious advice about improving life with your spouse. Shaykh Riad’s unforgettable lecture will be remembered for some time to come!
The long-awaited 2012 Al Maghrib diaries were on sale, other special merchandise and books too. A whole array of amazing cakes, the renowned biryani being back on the menu for dinner and lots of tea were available.
As the day drew to a close, all attendees left feeling awe-inspired, motivated and impelled to make a change. One student said “What a way to end 2011! It smashed all the Islamic conferences I’ve attended all these years, the speeches of the speakers made me laugh, cry and reflect over life in this dunya and the Hereafter. AlMaghrib please bring Ilmfest 2012 over to London next year!”
May we all be reunited in Jannat al Firdaus with rivers of chocolate (as mentioned by Shaykh Navaid Aziz). Ameen!
(Contributed by: Anneka Sheikh)