Khamis, Disember 29, 2011

Twins of Faith Malaysia 2011

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Twins of Faith Malaysia 2011

What are the twins of Faith? If you look at the above logo carefully, they are 'ilm and 'amal (knowledge & action). Interestingly, to further underscore their strong correlation to one another, both words are formed from the same 3 letters; lam, 'ain and mim. Throughout the whole 2-day conference, the importance of both was reiterated, again and again. You simply cannot act without knowledge and what is the use of knowledge if we don't put it into practice?

Though the concept is simple enough, not many of us do seek knowledge, do we? I mean, we were born Muslims so we think we have all religious rituals down pat. We probably do but that's exactly the problem; we view them as rituals - elements so intertwined with our culture that we think they are what Islam is all about: praying, fasting, Eid and the Hadj. We don't go out of our way to learn more about our beautiful religion. Islam has become a set of rituals instead of a way of life.

Alhamdulillah, I was very fortunate to be able to attend the Twins of Faith Family Festival in Putrajaya last weekend (Dec 24 & 25, 2011). The event was packed with talks, workshops and performances from 10am until 10pm on both days.

Below are some of the input that made an impact on me:

1) Sheikh Alaa Elsayed quoted a line from Lion King when he reminded us to "remember who [we] are". We are the best of nations as mentioned in the Quran:
You are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind; you enjoin Al-Ma'ruf and forbid Al-Munkar, and you believe in Allah (Surah Al-'Imran, Verse 110).
Another speaker, Sheikh Tawfique Chowdhury, expounded on this point when he chastised Muslims who think so lowly of themselves:
"Why the defeatist attitude?" he had asked.
"How dare you think so small"
"How dare you think that Allah will not help you".

2) In the women-empowerment workshop by Dr. Harlina Halizah Siraj, maternal health care was discussed. It was sad to learn that countries like Afghanistan, Niger, Yemen, Mali and Sudan (which are predominantly Muslim countries) are considered the worst places to be a mother. Why is this so? Well, according to Save The Children report it all boils down to poverty and the (lack of) quality of life:
" Afghanistan, a typical woman has fewer than five years of education and will not live to be 45. Less than 16 percent of women are using modern contraception, and 1 child in 5 dies before reaching age 5. At this rate, every mother in Afghanistan is likely to suffer the loss of a child."
Referring to the "You are the best of peoples..." verse above, how can this be happening? Obviously we haven't been enjoining Al-Ma'ruf and forbidding Al-Munkar, and we've turned our backs to Allah. It is often said that the beauty of Islam is being covered by ugly Muslims and I think the report is a clear example of that.

3) One of the speakers shared a very interesting finding from a research: apparently, we are the amalgamation of the 5 people whom we are closest to. We commonly hear that our friends are our mirrors. This finding seems to corroborate that. It made me think of the 5 people closest to me and in what ways are they influencing my life?

We should all take stock of the company we are keeping and make necessary adjustments for we wouldn't want to be influenced negatively. One of the criteria of a good friend is: when you see them, you will think of Allah (SWT). So let's surround ourselves with such friends (and become one ourselves).

4) The session that left the biggest impact on me has got to be the fund-raising.Mercy Mission Malaysia is raising funds to build a KL Madinah. In the sirah, the Muhajirin (people who were persecuted in Makkah) sought refuge in Madinah. The people of Madinah, called the Ansar, willingly took in the Muhajirin and treated them compassionately.

Similarly, KL Madinah aims to provide shelter to those most in need such as new Muslims who may have had to leave their families, homes and possessions when they embraced Islam. A question was posed by such a revert in a video: "Where are our Ansars? Who will help us?"

It was head-spinning to witness people pledging RM100K, 50K, 25K, 10K and 5K without hesitation. Subhanallah, these are the people who are not attached to their wealth; who (figuratively) have the world their in hands but Allah in their hearts.

(It was announced that approximately RM1.9 million was raised in total! Allahu Akbar!)

5) The entertainment slots were equally thought-provoking as the talks. In fact, they were called 'Halal edutainment' to convey their intention to educate as well as entertain. My favourite performer was Boonaa Mohammed, followed closely by Muslim Belal. Both of them are spoken-word artists and their slam-poetry lyrics provide much food for thought.

Overall, it was a very well-organised event. There was a minor problem with crowd-control on the first day, but it was sorted out and the second day went much smoother. PICC was the perfect venue: the plenary hall was spacious and beautiful, the washrooms clean, and the view is just unparalleled. I liked the fact that the opening and closing ceremonies were kept short. No interminable VIP speeches that are synonymous with events in Malaysia. Most of all, I love the atmosphere exuded. It truly was a family festival. It was heartwarming to see whole families coming together to seek knowledge and to see the youth forming the majority of the crowd.

I'm thankful to Allah that I was able to attend the festival with beloved friends. Friends who came all the way from other states to gain something beneficial. In the end I believe all of us gained so much more than what we had set out to do.

Can't wait for Twins of Faith 2012! :)