A conference which took over 6 months of preparation,
which bought 9 Superstar Shuyukh under one roof,
with over 1000 attendees, and one poetic genius to add the buzz back into the deen!
…It’s IlmFest, a Celebration of Knowledge.
One thing special about ‘IlmFest in Leeds is that it changed lives, not just after the event; rather it mesmerised its attendees in an instant. You have Bilal, a young fifteen year old brother from Bradford who’d just started practicing and he doesn’t need to go through a period of loneliness, as ‘IlmFest has given him the platform to meet amazing company who he can benefit from (and have fun with of course!) Then you have a coach driver, a middle aged non-Muslim male who is so taken aback by what he encounters whilst transporting students and the lecturers, that after a day of contemplation he accepts Islam subhan Allah!
This one day conference, ‘IlmFest, held by AlMaghrib Institute in Leeds has impacted over 1000 people in a matter of hours. With nine Instructors, a poetic genius; Boona Mohammad and a day full of practical lectures focused around Surah AlMu’minoon, for Indeed Successful are the Believers – ‘IlmFestcentralised around the topics that are essential for us to succeed, yet due to our busy schedules we don’t prioritise them.
‘IlmFest gave the opportunity to its attendees to internalise role models that excelled in the past, derive important lessons that strike a chord and drive us to take action so we can become better believers, in hope of a mighty reward.
‘IlmFest was blessed with mothers, who are always looking for an opportunity to benefit, with fathers who had come with their families, and young brothers and sisters, eagerly awaiting lectures on leadership by Shaykh Muhammad Alshareef, so they could implement these lessons in their communities.
A young sister, Sonia Hussain from Birmingham, 16 attended ‘IlmFest with her aunty in hope of some inspiration. She turned to me and said something which touched me:
From now on I’m going to attend every AlMaghrib seminar and learn about Islam even if I don’t always find it interesting; after all, this knowledge is here for us to become better people.
However, what mesmerised me the most was when her aunty told me one day later how she’d persuaded her father to invest in the ‘IlmRush card and had enrolled herself on every seminar in the UK, coming up in the next few months. I’m not sure about you, but that’s what I call instant change, mashaAllah. It reminds me of the incident of Imam Abu Hanifa rahmiahullah, when his encounter with Imam Ash-Sha’bi rahmiahullah caused him to move to a different direction of life, which was now to become a Faqih. The other story that resonates is of Imam Malik rahimahullah, when his mother persuaded him to leave the dream of becoming a singer to become a Student of Knowledge. Many of us in the UK have a certain direction in life, however it’s conferences and events like ‘IlmFest that cause us to move in a direction adverse to what society expects of us.
As I stepped foot into Saviles Hall, I was hit with an atmosphere of excitement, smiling faces of attendees hovering around the registration tables eagerly registering in hope of front row seats. Young children running around the sweet stalls in hope of satisfying their sweet tooth before the conference began. Qabeelah AlMass (Bradford), Qabeelat Barakah (Manchester), Qabeelah Firdaws (Middleborough) and Qabeelat Taqwa (Scotland); the four student bodies of AlMaghrib Institute went all out with professionalism, from purple table cloths, signage and a jaw dropping stage straight from the Oscars! Personally, the only thing missing was the red carpet, but even this was over shadowed by the line of up of Instructors, each with a unique topic, ready to be delivered in their unique captivating manner. Even Dr. Reda Bedeir wants his own copy of the DVD!
The atmosphere and creativity was amazing …would I be able to get a copy of all the Shuyukh talks? – Dr. Reda Bedeir
Everyone has talent and for the AlMaghrib Shuyukh it goes beyond just delivering lectures and teaching the masses about Islam, the Crème de la Crème of ‘IlmFest was the talent show delivered by several Shuyukh; which stood out for many students!
Shaykh Riad would give the most active athlete a run for his money with his workout – putting stereotypes to rest that Islamic teachers are not healthy! Shaykh Kamel ElMekki restored the Sunnah by making everyone smile by his sense of humor, a nice surprise to the dryness we are accustomed to in the UK and Shaykh Ahsan Hanif officially held the UK in high regard by beating Shaykh Muhammad Alshareef quite pleasantly in the Qur’an competition!
Ahmed Sa’eed shared his excitement:
Alhamdulillah! In 19 years of my life, this was the best EVER way to see off the end of a year!!
Yusuf Issat shares how it’s impacted him, and in turn his family:
My heart was mesmerised by the words of Allah. I walked away with endless lessons which I pray will InshaAllah help me to change my life to help spread Islam and live it to the fullest. I have taken steps in becoming a better role model and setting a right example for my son, so that he is amongst the next generation of Muslims who have a broad and balanced education in Islam, and that he is also God conscious and a productive British Muslim citizen, who will lead a meaningful and purpose-driven life, InshaAllah.
There were also attendees who for the first time in their lives had been persuaded to attend this ‘Islamic Event’ and this is when Shayk hRiad’s dynamic teaching style came into play, keeping them at the edge of their seats in awe of such an interesting lecture. After all, some would argue Islam takes the fun out of any situation, but with AlMaghrib Institute, they pride themselves in adding the fun back into learning!
This was demonstrated by another heart-warming moment when Shaykh Muhammad Alshareef, the Founder of AlMaghrib Institute was checking in for his flight as he made his way back to Canada. As it so happened and much to his surprise the attendant was a newly practicing sister who had the pleasure of attending IlmFest. As she caught sight of the Shaykh she could help but express her gratitude, she turned to the Shaykh and said:
IlmFest has changed my life.
For me personally, I had the pleasure of attending both ‘IlmFests, and as I sat there in a lecture Shaykh Muhammad Alshareef asked the question:
How do you spend your life?
Many of us have used this opportunity to make changes in our lives, we may have otherwise ignored; I myself was impacted and came home and made a life changing decision. I hope you all have been impacted to make one or more changes in your life, like many others who attended ‘IlmFest, inshaAllah. These conferences should cause us to be agents of change within ourselves, our homes and our communities in hope of a better future.
This life changing event has transformed the lives of many, preparing them for year of change. For many 2011 was great, and hopefully 2012 will never be the same, in sha Allah!
Bigger, better and brighter!
(Contributed by: Alima Ashfaq)