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Ilm Summit 2009: A Day in the Life

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almaghrib_usbTwo nights in a row now, I’ve awoken at 4am sleep-babbling nonsense to my wife only an Ilm Summit student would understand.  Though I’ve returned home, my unconscious mind is still attuned to what can only be described as an immersion experience that doesn’t simply leave an impression (that was Ilm Summit 2008), but literally re-wires your emotional and spiritual DNA while testing your physical and mental faculties to their utmost limit.

I’m still standing, but just barely.  Others didn’t fare as well – I’ve read messages online of individuals literally balling as they boarded their flights homes, received texts about not returning to the program because of the magnitude of sorrow and emptiness after having left, and for some, the mere mention of the question, “So how was Ilm Summit?” causes spontaneous crying.

And that’s just the brothers.

“This Year’s Ilm Summit Will Be Much More Intense” – Shaykh Yasir Qadhi

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Whereas last year’s Ilm Summit began at 8:30am with a daily half-hour dose of akhlaq, this year’s classes kicked off immediately after Fajr salaah with tajweed and continued until breakfast arrived at 7:30am.

Our instructor was Wisam Sharieff of Bayyinah Institute, whose flamboyant teaching style was not only a breath of fresh air, but an absolute must for classes so early in the morning.  Gone were the idghaams of yesteryear’s traditional tajweed instruction, replaced by “light vs heavy” letters, and “this cat feels awfully cool”.  If that doesn’t make sense, here’s the lowdown – the basic premise was to remove the technical jargon surrounding tajweed education and replace it with practical, simple terminology so that students would progress faster in their perfecting their recitation.

For a sample, check out the following clip where you can watch me getting schooled on my kasras:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bnFWgJaTHp4[/youtube]

But that wasn’t enough Qur’aan for this Ilm Summit – a week later, the ante was upped with the addition of Shaykh Uthman Khan of the Shatibiyyah Institute, a man with 20 ijaazahs, and a chain between himself and the Prophet sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam that’s no longer than 31 people, and from what I understand, the shortest possible.  Check out this interview with him at Ilm Summit:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9BTFunksuiA[/youtube]

“Prepare to push yourself physically, it’s only 2 weeks – don’t have regrets like many of last year’s students” – Shaykh Yaser Birjas

Although we began with tajweed as our first class, our day often began at 5:00am, and not just because we were chasing qiyaam ul layl – we were also chasing front row at the fajr salaah, giving the fajr adhaan, and getting front row seats in the classroom.  The first group to wake up and come downstairs could take most, if not all of those honors for themselves, and often it was the same group of people who did so.

Had this been last year, I would have been the person in the back row taking notes and simultaneously cracking jokes with others, and as much as I benefited from Ilm Summit 2008, I regretted not being a better student.

This time around, no matter how late the night (and often that was sleeping at 3am and then waking at 5:30am), myself and others made a startling discovery – sleep was a highly overrated luxury that the aspiring student of knowledge simply had to do without.  Of course, we all had our freshly brewed Starbucks coffee crutch to keep the wheels grinding (bid’ah!) and many a student kept a pillow in the last few days for power-napping between breaks.

“Your Instructors Researched and Prepared Over 100 hours Worth of Material for each Class” – Ustadh Wisam Sharieff

Without a doubt, this year’s Ilm Summit was far more academically advanced than last year’s.  Here’s a sampling of what was covered:

  1. Al-Qawaa’id al Fiqhiyyah:  Maxims of Fiqh (14 sessions)
  2. The Reality of Iman  (14 sessions)
  3. Fiqh al Adhkaar (12 sessions)
  4. Usool as-Sunnah (10 sessions)
  5. Heresiology (14 sessions)
  6. Fiqh us-Siyaam (12 sessions)
  7. Tajweed (14 Sessions)

And that doesn’t include the wild card sessions (every night), nor does it include sessions with special guests which spanned over 25 sessions of their own.

Whereas Ilm Summit 2008 was challenging in content, it was more of a hodge-podge of classes that had no obvious connection with one another.  In contrast, this year’s lineup was a well-orchestrated symphony that sliced and diced through various cross-sections of our Ummah’s political and intellectual history, providing a perspective in which the student could examine the dynamics at play shaping the birth and propagation of different movements and ideologies, both those that remain with us as well as those that have long since departed, yet still affect us to this day.  The courses didn’t stop at being informational, however – beyond that, we were taught how we deal with all of this on a practical, day-to-day level, dealing with the average Moe (hammad).

Shaykh Yasir Qadhi touches on this in the Back Stage Access video when he discusses his approach to teaching Iman (if you watch the whole video, you can see Shaykh Yasir Birjas singing poetry as well):

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_DNmkYZ-xvo[/youtube]

“Keep Control of Your Hands” – Shaykh Yaser Birjas

Another new activity this year was helping up-and-coming da’ees hone their speaking skills.  After every dhuhr and ‘isha salaah, a student was scheduled to give a 10 minute khatirah on a topic of their choosing, followed by either Shaykh Yaser or Yasir publically critiquing them for both the good points of the speech as well as improvements the speaker should focus on.

And, the activity was not just for brothers – it was for sisters as well.  And yes, the brothers faced forward, and the sister giving the khatira would stand in front of and address the sisters, so we would hear, but we would not see the speaker.  Watch the following video to hear the khatirah given by sister Shirien (aka Egyptian Gumbo for all you bloggerazzi peeps):

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPkuPLJdArA[/youtube]

Another excellent khatirah, from the brothers’ side by Mohammad Mana’, the only Arab I know who sings Junaid Jumshed (urdu naats):

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ikOZm_OKUFU[/youtube]

After brother Mohammad’s speech, the two Shaykh Yasirs commented separately on what they hope to accomplish with the khatirah training program and what to expect next year, insha’Allah.

Where Ilm Summit 2008’s logistical snafus were the stuff of legend, this year’s logistics ran so smoothly it was downright boring.  Instead of food delivered in 200 styrofoam boxes, the hotel’s chef catered all three of our 100% zabiha meals daily, and we basically could have as many portions as we liked.  Instead of collecting our laundry and taking it over to yay local washateria (that’s texas-speak for laundramat), get this – we had a washer and dryer to wash our own clothes, and AlMaghrib provided the quarters and detergent.  How awesome is that?

However, the absolutely most critical amenity provided this year – unlimited Starbucks coffee and Splenda sweetener.  Now, I admit, I’m a Dunkin’ Donuts man myself, but when you’re running on 3 hours of sleep every day (and those missing hours from the previous night are simply adding up), it’s critical that you get the maximum caffeine boost possible, and 5 – 8 cups daily of Starbucks is just what the doctor ordered.

All-in-all, an a-mazing job and an immense step-up from last year’s experience.  We gave the brother handling it mad appreciation at the event (though we still teased him about shady halls), and someone made a tribute video for the brother, so if you see him and want to hug him on our behalf, feel free (if you’re a brother, or a mahram female relative):

Of course, while he was the face of the volunteers, many others contributed, such as sister Julie Lowe who ran the sisters side, and other brothers and sisters who ran interference while we were oblivious to it all.  Big jazakallaahu khayran to all of you for making this event possible.

“So that PX9 workout is working for you?” – Shaykh Yasir Qadhi

With the frenetic schedule we were running, it’s hard to imagine that there was time for anything else, let alone physical fitness, but where there’s a will, there’s a way.  The workout facility was good for a decent workout, so many of the brothers got on the treadmills and ellipticals during dinner break.  One brought his own kettle ball and did his own kettle ball workout.  Myself and a number of others often set up a laptop and did the P90x Workout.  Some brothers went swimming, and of course,  the infamous ping pong table made it’s return with both shaykh yasirs wielding professional paddles (for gaming purposes only).  The sisters were also given better access to the ping-pong table and had one hour reserved exclusively for them to use the hotel gym.

And of course, there’s nothing like having in-class exercises when everyone has been pushed to their physical limits, so Shaykh Yasir had us exercise before starting one of his classes.  Here I am leading the class through the classic, “YEAH!” breathing exercise (make sure to turn down the volume, very loud).

Unfortunately, no one recorded our previous exercise, a heavily requested P90x warmup that had everyone groaning =D

Some who attended last year may remember the push-up competition which brother Muhammad Ouyoun won – this year was no different, as Muhammad got on the mic and called out everyone, and then proceeded to clean everyone’s clock while claiming to be “out-of-shape”.  What’s unique about Muhammad is that he’s physically handicapped and doesn’t have the use of his legs, yet he swims (I still can’t), regularly beats out the brothers in push-up  competitions, and he loves Islam and seeking Islamic knowledge.  And oh yeah, he’s still in high school.  He’s an immense inspiration to all of us, and it was awesome having him again for this Ilm Summit (did I mention that this rock star kid is from our very own QWasat, Chicago qabeelah?).

And if that wasn’t enough, Shaykh Yaser Birjas was out there challenging everyone to do his “special” backbreaker pushup, which he seems to do without issue.  Most people could not do it, and those of us who pulled off (there were 3 of us who were able to do it) came back with back strains and pains.  You can just hear the, “Yaa Jama’ah,” given in a questioning tone, asking, “What’s wrong with you younger guys?”

“No question goes unanswered at Ilm Summit” – Shaykh Yasir Qadhi

Perhaps the most amazing benefit (and maybe even fitnah) of Ilm Summit is having access to our teachers virtually 24/7, and when I say 24/7, I mean 24/7.  Both last year and this year, it wasn’t uncommon to find two or more instructors out at 2 or 3am in the morning, answering questions, sharing knowledge, and benefiting the students.  With the additions of brother Wisam and Shaykh Uthman, the Ilm Summit experience was jacked to a whole new level, as the halls of the hotel reverberated with the melody of the Qur’aan throughout the day, and especially the night.

Want have a discussion over lunch with your favorite instructors on the merits and demerits of maqaam recitations?  This is the place to do it:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L5m-eg-dfc0[/youtube]

You may also see a member of AlMaghrib HQ being interviewed by Cookie Monster – never mind that.

Along with all that, both Shaykh Yasirs set aside time to sit down and talk with students who wanted private, one-on-one counseling time.  I didn’t really have any problems that I could think of, so I did what most people would do when they have no problems – I signed up to speak up with both of them to ask them what I ought to be doing with my life since, alhamdulillaah, everything was running smoothly and awesomely, and I just wanted to hang out for a bit with them on my own =D

“There’s gonna be a lotta people crying at the end of this” – Siraaj Muhammad

We concluded the program with exams, a talent show, and a banquet (in a hall that really was shady).  Although I’m sure some people did cry over exams, the conclusion of the program on the last two nights brought much in the way of tears from both the students and the teachers.  As this post is concluding, you can be sure that many students are tearing up even now.

You might wonder, after such an exhausting two week ordeal, wouldn’t people want to relax and go home?  It’s hard to say what it is that impacts each and every student the most, so I’ll explain what makes Ilm Summit special to me on a personal level.  I tend to keep a small group of close friends because even among practicing Muslims, it’s difficult to find people focused on pleasing Allah consistently, who sweat the details of their personal ethics and khuluq, who compete with you in khayr amicably, who love seeking and spreading knowledge, and who hype you up and make you want to raise your own game.  I came down one night to find two brothers memorizing all the hadeeth from Bukhari that Shaykh Yasir had provided us in our Iman class – in Arabic.  And then reciting it again in English.  This was at 1am in the morning.  They didn’t have to do that, but they did it anyway.   These are the kind of people I like being around because I hope to be like them one day myself, insha’Allah.

And then there’s the instructors – masha’Allah, tabarakallaah, they’ve been blessed with so much more in the way of Islamic knowledge, but they’re humble and always looking for opportunities to teach, benefit, and dare I say it, be human and hang out as one of the guys because being in Shaykh mode all the time is taxing.  Growing up, I never experienced the old school approach of, “You’re not worthy to ask questions,” but I’d heard stories, and I happy to say never once has any instructor gone into hyper-arrogance mode and turned away my questions or that of others because, “we shouldn’t ask”.  On the contrary, asking was encouraged, and pushing and developing our critical thinking has been one of the hallmarks of Ilm Summit, and I and others greatly appreciated it.

And a special shot out to Shaykh Waleed Basyouni, who despite his son’s Yousef’s battle with leukemia, balanced teaching 3 classes alongside maintaining his family responsibilities.  We ask that Allah subhaanahu wa ta’aala give Yousef a speedy recovery and keep his parents strong and patient during this ordeal, ameen.

But students, volunteers, and instructors weren’t the only ones saddened for the event to end.  The last couple of days of Ilm Summit, we didn’t have the banquet hall to ourselves and the hotel immediately reverted to jahiliyyah mode – there were a number of weddings and events with drunk men and women wandering the hotel.  I thought to myself, subhaanallah, I bet the hotel staff is going to miss us when they have to go back to dealing with this on a regular basis.

Sister Rana posted the following on the AlMaghrib forums, and it’s telling of just how compelling an experience Ilm Summit is:

So on the last day I was saying good bye to the Hispanic workers who set up the food and such and they wanted me to share a message to all the Ilm Summitters.

They said that they were touched by everybody’s kindness, by the fact that everybody was smiling and greeting them. They said they were definitely not used to this from their other customers who clapped to get their attention or snapped their fingers at them. The ladies said the Ilm Summit group really respected them for who they are and not by their profession. Also they said that now their preception of Islam changed and they no longer think of Muslim women as oppressed. They now see that Muslim women are intellectual, active, respected by their fellow Muslim brothers and are valued much more than American women. They said that Quran was so beautiful especially as they listened to Br. Wissams recitation in the morning and in the lobby, they said it definitely was something special and divine. They were so eager to read the material that Ilm Summit supplied for them and are sharing the material with their parents, siblings and children. An older woman came to me and said “You don’t believe it, my father, my Catholic father picked up the Islamic book and is enjoying it.” and another one said, “everytime I go to pick up my mother I put in the Quran CD’s maybe her heart with be open to the truth” Subhanallah it was as if Muslims were speaking, you can see the fitrah in these people, they were so thirsty for knowledge, so eager to learn about Islam.

And to leave you off with one touching remark one made, “I can’t believe the media has so much power to distort such a great group of people, I think they are jealous because they can’t be as good as you. Please pray for us, we need prayers from people like you and don’t forget us for we will never forget you” And when she said that I was left in a puddle of tears…

Please keep them in your duas, Pray that Allah guide them as they were really great poeple, they touched me in so many ways and remember that Dawah is a collective effort, it’s never a one man show.

More Ilm Summit Stuff Forthcoming…

You may have noticed it’s not all that hard to find media on Ilm Summit 2009 this year, and that’s due to Belal Khan of leechonfilms.com, who went through painstaking effort to video-archive the event in real time.

With his help and exclusive to MuslimMatters, we have two interviews for our new program, MuslimMatters Live!, one with the man, the myth, the legend Nouman Ali Khan about Optimus Prime (we’re talking Generation 1 folks)  and his PhD in Uncle psychology, and we have another one-on-one interview with Shaykh Yasir Qadhi in which we talk about certain topics you’ve probably never heard him talk about before such as his thoughts on comments and commenters on MuslimMatters.  Along with that, I’ll return with a second article on what I’ve gained this Ilm Summit and how it’s impacted my life trajectory.

And if that’s not enough, don’t worry, there’s more coming, so stay tuned!

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

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The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Siraaj is the Operations Director of MuslimMatters as well as its new lead web developer. He's spent nearly two decades working in dawah organizations, starting with his chapter MSA in Purdue University, and leading efforts with AlMaghrib Institute, MuslimMatters, and AlJumuah magazine. Somewhere in there, he finds time for his full-time profession as a software engineer in Silicon Valley. He holds a bachelor's in Computer Science from Purdue University and a Master's certificate from UC Berkeley. He's very married and has 5 wonderful children

54 Comments

54 Comments

  1. Ibn Muhammad

    August 20, 2009 at 6:08 AM

    Salam alaykoum

    Jazakallahu khayr for sharing with us.

  2. Arif

    August 20, 2009 at 8:05 AM

    Can’t wait to see those videos come out Insha’Allah! Btw, it’d be cool to interview Shaykh Yasir that if he was to publish his ‘A Critical Study of Shirk’ again, would he modify the book, and if so, would he add anything extra based on his experiences. JazaakumAllahu Khayran for all your awesome works!

  3. Arshada

    August 20, 2009 at 8:07 AM

    as salaam alikuim

    Awesome recap bro. Made me feel like I was there for a second. Look fwd to your next post.

  4. Someone

    August 20, 2009 at 8:32 AM

    I have a pain in my heart. I wasn’t even there, I didn’t attend a single course or class with you, but this article has made me cry and wish I could. If only it was within my reach, I am an overseas student.
    I want to be part of a community, of such classes and study under such teachers.

    May Allaah bless you all and may you retain the knowledge and benefit your communities and give them back. Ameen

    • Ibn AbuAisha

      August 21, 2009 at 8:53 AM

      Assalamu Alaikum,

      May Allah reward you for your intention. Realize that you can seek knowledge through many different ways. Alhamdulillah in this technological era, it is easy to find lectures online and benefit from them. Alhamdulillah MuslimMatters is one such website (with excellent articles Alhamdulillah). Also, keep making Du’a that Allah eases your path to knowledge. And we will pray that because of your pure intention, Allah Blesses you with something even better than IlmSummit. Infact, we had a brother express these same sentiments at IlmSummit this year who Masha Allah came all the way from Dubai, UAE. On the last day, he advised us that this was a Ni’ma which we should not take lightly and that every class we take, we should take it very seriously. May Allah make us from those who sincerely seek knowledge of this Deen.

      • Someone

        August 21, 2009 at 11:27 AM

        Walaikumasalaam,

        I am currently memorising Quran. I hope and pray that I will have completed the Quran before the next IlmSummit.
        I do attend lectures from various sources (online, offline classes..) but this is something I personally shouldn’t have missed, and I wouldn’t have if it were within my reach. I haven’t been able to forget about it ever since I came across this post. May Allaah accept your prayers and make you among those who benefitted this Ummah, and may this Ramadhan be the best ever for you, and Allaah includes you among those slaves of His whom He frees from the fire of hell everyday during this month, ameen.

        • Ibn AbuAisha

          August 21, 2009 at 11:07 PM

          Ameen to your Ad’iya. Jazak Allah Khair. I pray for the same for you and May Allah enable you memorize the Qur’an with ease.

        • Ameera

          August 22, 2009 at 1:50 AM

          I know how you feel because I feel exactly the same way… it was the same for me when the Journey
          of Peace conference was held in Toronoto in July this year. *sigh* I wished I could attend… we don’t
          have such things in Pakistan (note: Muslim majority country!).

          However, yes, we’ll keep looking for alternatives untill we can attend physically (and mentally, as well) inshAllah! Alhamdolillah for Muslimmatters, Islamic Tube and other such websites which have brought in a revolution in terms of high quality content articles and A/V content! :)

          • Someone

            August 22, 2009 at 4:06 AM

            May Allaah make the search for knowledge easy for you sister, and may you benefit yourself and others around you with your work and efforts, ameen.

  5. Nihal Khan

    August 20, 2009 at 8:45 AM

    Who’s the fella in the big beard doing the exercises and writing this post?

  6. bintwadee3

    August 20, 2009 at 9:01 AM

    A very well written recap, bro Siraaj, but I would never trade it for a single moment there; not for the excessive tears shed, so many that my eyes were burnt of dehydration the next morning, nor for the many hours of lost sleep, hours that were actually GAINED in the Sight of Allaah for the Ummah (I pray they were beneficial). So many memories have been cemented from the exhausting, breathtaking trudge up the mountain – and what a beautiful sight it was! Allaahu Akbar!

    Alhamdulillaah. Alhamdulillaahi Rabbil ‘Aaaalameeen. . .

    Alhamdulillaah that I was able to go this year and I sincerely ask Allaah to make me of the *elite* 90 that are selected for next year. Ameen, thumma Ameen.

    Allaahumma taqabal minna du`aa’ana. Ameen.

    Ilm Summittee for the year 2009 (and inshaAllaah every consecutive year thereafter,

    Maymuna

  7. Waleed

    August 20, 2009 at 9:36 AM

    Assalamalaikum wa rahmatullahe wa barakatuhu-

    Jazak Allah Khair Siraaj for a well written synopsis. It certainly hits up many of the rich and deep learning experiences that many of us have had the luxury of experiencing, Alhamdulilah.

    My Ilm Summit isn’t over. It can’t be. I won’t let it. My Ilm Summit lives with me, in the notes I took, in the memories that were made and in the many many videos that Belal has SubhanAllah helped put together. My Ilm Summit lives and I won’t let it finish because I’m reviewing my notes when I can and I’m sharing stories when they come up and I’m staring at my calendar wondering what targets I need to hit up (finish Quran insha-Allah at least once & do 1 Umrah insha-Allah) by May.

    Jazak Allah Khair Siraaj and I will insha-Allah insha-Allah see you again next year bro.

    PS: thanks for the P90X :) Planning on how to effectively balance that with Ramadan!

  8. Enosh

    August 20, 2009 at 10:21 AM

    Salam,

    so… ‘ilm summit is awesome, this is a greedy Q but can you or someone post ALL their notes from ilm summit?!?!? In reality you would be spreading the knowledge for those that had other responsiblities and couldn’t make it.

    • Amatullah

      August 20, 2009 at 10:43 AM

      wa alaykum salam,

      Alhamdulillah notes have been posted :)

      find them here

      and here.

      • Enosh

        August 20, 2009 at 12:37 PM

        yess!!!!!! thanks for pointing this out to me

  9. michigan

    August 20, 2009 at 10:57 AM

    Very well written mashAllah, as a two-time ilm summitter i thought your article was super accurate and precise to the smallest details…..it covered the entire scope of Ilm Summit from the mountains to the valleys. :-)
    Jazaka Allahu Khairan Br. Siraaj.

    -former wasati

  10. Kanika A.

    August 20, 2009 at 10:59 AM

    Jazzak Allah khair for this ! … Nice summary mashAllah … I really miss the IlmSummit environment…its hard to leave that ilm environment and get back to your daily mundane tasks… May Allah allow us to be there next year inshAllah !

    For those who missed ilmsummit, llmsummit students are doing a CRASH COURSE ON FIQH OF FASTING before ramadhan from AUGUST 18-21, 6:30 – 7:30 pm EST inshAllah…and MANY OTHER COURSES after ramadhan inshAllah…you can check out the details here and sign up HERE inshAllah

    KA

  11. AbuZakariyya

    August 20, 2009 at 11:27 AM

    Jazak Allah Khair Br Siraaj. Awesome post. The comments from the staff of the hotel really hit me. May Allah reward you all for being such awesome ambassadors.

    P.S: it’s Kettlebell not Kettle Ball :)

  12. Abu Rumaisa

    August 20, 2009 at 12:28 PM

    I was not at Ilm Summit but just reading abt it makes me miss it. I know big boys r not supposed to cry but I can’t help it after reading ur post.

  13. Nadya

    August 20, 2009 at 1:21 PM

    JazakAllahu khair brother for the article…You’re right, it did make me tear up! You hit the experience right on the head…I’m still dealing with counseling some breakdowns..Allahul Musta’an

  14. Siraaj

    August 20, 2009 at 1:21 PM

    I’m not a fan of threaded comments, so I’m responding to you guys on one comment :D

    @Someone: Make du’aa for what you want, and take advantage of the resources you do have – show your dedication, and I have no doubt that when the time is right, Allah will make a way for you to get what you want, or give you what is better in the Hereafter.

    @Nihal: Who’s that heartthrob haafidh beating up on Cookie Monster?

    @bintwadee’: ameen to all the du’aas, and make sure to get some rest.

    @Waleed: Ilm Summit for me is like a mini-Ramadan – it’s a time where I can develop new, permanent habits that make me a better me – that’s how I make sure Ilm Summit never leaves me ;)

    @michigan: I think you’re being a bit too generous with the praise, but thanks all the same =)

    @AbuZakariyya: Actually, either spelling is ok, depends on which you prefer – have a look online, you’ll find both =)

    @Abu Rumaisa: Then make sure we see you there next year insha’Allah, so that your tears are from joy, and not from regret ;)

    @Nadya: Well, you’re not alone, I admit my own article made me tear up, but only at the end when I read sister Rana’s forum post. That line, “Don’t forget us, for we will not forget you” was killer – may Allah guide them and their families to accept Islam.

    Siraaj

  15. Alaa

    August 20, 2009 at 2:25 PM

    Jazakum Allahu khyran Br. Siraaj. I have to applaud you for speaking our minds and hearts masha’Allah. I remember i felt the same way when you wrote your summary last year – It really felt like we’re re-living ilmsummit all over again, and like others have mentioned, it also made me tear up.

    I always find it hard to explain to people how ilmsummit was and i know i don’t usually give it it’s right when i attempt to explain it. It’s easy to state the “facts” of ilmsummit: what classes we had and how many students were there, but it’s almost impossible to explain the effect of ilmsummit on our hearts and souls (and i know most ilmsummitees will agree).

    May Allah (swt) reward all of those who made IlmSummit a reality….ameen ya rabb al`alameen.

    • Nadya

      August 20, 2009 at 3:32 PM

      Yeah subhanAllah you’re so right about not giving it it’s right. People come up and say “How was Ilm Summit” and I’m like “It was amazing”….but that amazing does not even capture an infinitesimal bit of “how ilm summit was”

  16. Anonymous

    August 20, 2009 at 3:46 PM

    it’s difficult to find people focused on pleasing Allah consistently, who sweat the details of their personal ethics and khuluq, who compete with you in khayr amicably, who love seeking and spreading knowledge, and who hype you up and make you want to raise your own game.</em> ”
    my feeing exactly
    tears are flowing
    ilm summit 2010 I am ready..
    Jazak Allah khareen Brother Siraj you have expressed it eloquently

  17. Nihal Khan

    August 20, 2009 at 5:22 PM

    @Siraaj – “Who’s that heartthrob haafidh beating up on Cookie Monster?”

    I think its Adam.

  18. abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

    August 20, 2009 at 5:39 PM

    Jazak Allah khayr, Siraaj.

    Am I actually the first person to comment, “light vs. heavy letters”? There was a joy in studying tajweed during IlmSummit that had to be experienced.

    Believe me, if you (reading this post and these comments) did not attend IlmSummit, and you are still trying to figure out why certain IlmSummit-attendees are off working on tajweed, or (working on) hyping you up about recitation, or any other tajweed-oriented activity — well, you are not alone.

    If there was a sadness about the tajweed class, it was how few IlmSummit students answered the challenge. Day after day there was attrition as students found something else more appealing — for some it was their studies, for others their beds, and for the rest I have no idea.

    I only know that doors opened for me while studying tajweed during IlmSummit with (Shaykh) Wissam and with students who were so generous with their time, like the brothers who for me were the two lights of Nurayn, mashaAllah, or like Mustapha (Allah protect them all and be pleased with them)

    What kind of doors? Pronouncing the name of Allah correctly. Pronouncing alhamdolillah correctly. That’s after more tajweed halaqas than I care to count, but that have been counted for me in a book of deeds…

    And I LOVED my other IlmSummit classes, the ones I have not mentioned till this line. So, if I mention only this much about my love, then do you begin to understand how much that tajweed class was worth to me?

    • Alaa

      August 20, 2009 at 5:45 PM

      “Am I actually the first person to comment, “light vs. heavy letters”? ”

      i actually noticed that too….

      tajweed and Br./Shaykh/Ustadh Wisaam were definitely of the highlights of Ilm Summit 2009 (if not the highlight!)

      • Siraaj

        August 20, 2009 at 6:28 PM

        LOL, I’m an idiot, thanks for catching it, it’s been corrected (jazakallaah khayr Yusra).

        Siraaj

  19. Rana06

    August 20, 2009 at 6:15 PM

    Assalamu alaikum Brother Siraaj,

    Right when I was thinking that there was no way to describe Ilm Summit in words or express the emotions felt there in statements, here you come with a breakthrough article that recaptures every moment and highlights the good memories. SubhanAllah, I read your article and relived Ilm Summit for five more minutes and I thank you for giving me that opportunity. May Allah reward your efforts.

    Wa Alhamduillah that Allah blessed us with the opportunity to attend Ilm Summit 09…

    Fi AmaniAllah,
    Rana06

  20. Mehreen

    August 20, 2009 at 6:36 PM

    Siraaj, this is really good- I could not have done a better job. Man…I miss Ilm Summit so much! Can’t wait till 2010 iA.

    • michigan

      August 20, 2009 at 6:57 PM

      same here :)
      Cant wait!

  21. usman

    August 20, 2009 at 8:10 PM

    Salaam, If only our hearts could speak they would say what you wrote, brother siraaj, and so much more!

  22. A Sister

    August 20, 2009 at 10:40 PM

    SubhanAllah, I’m simply lost on words, mashAllah brothers & sisters have so much to benefit from in the USA! Especially brothers, they can so easily be around Shuyookhs and learn full time! BarakAllahu Lakum…

  23. Ahmad AlFarsi

    August 20, 2009 at 10:57 PM

    Even though I was only there as an evening/weekend volunteer, subhanAllah, I too can testify to how awesome the Quran factor of IlmSummit was. In the few sessions I was able to sit down with Sh. Wisam between breaks etc, he was able to help me improve my recitation on issues so minute, I never even knew about them (and this is after me having completed tajweed courses and having recited before different shaykhs in the past, who, for whatever reason, never pointed out these minuchet in proper recitation to me).

    SubhanAllah, the BEST and most amazing thing about this IlmSummit was hands down the Quran and hearing Sh. Wisam’s recitation echoing throughout the hotel. May Allah grant us many such opportunities in the future to fall in love with His book. Ameen.

  24. Faiez

    August 20, 2009 at 11:29 PM

    This is more like ILMSummit: 2 weeks in the life

  25. Umm Maryam

    August 20, 2009 at 11:57 PM

    Assalaamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullaahi Wa Barakaatuh,

    SubhanAllah this post brought all of these emotions back to me. Jazakum Allaahu khayran brother. Though I couldn’t experience Ilm Summit fully since I was in and out as a volunteer, I could feel the desire and thirst for knowledge the students displayed each and every day. How serious they were about learning and how deeply they valued and respected the knowledge truly touched me. It gave me a glimpse of how seeking knowledge in the past with some of our greatest scholars must have been. I pray to Allah that we treat our shuyukh in the same manner that the students of knowledge of the past would have. I earnestly pray to Allah that I can attend Ilm Summit next year. May Allah make it easy for me and my family to partake in gaining this knowledge and facilitate this for me. Aameen.

    May Allah reward all of the shuyukh and students who attended and for sacrificing so much for this deen.

  26. A.S.

    August 21, 2009 at 5:55 AM

    awesome post. The best ilmsummit reflection I have seen, mashallah brother siraaj, this is reaaally comprehensive :D

  27. hanzala

    August 21, 2009 at 6:38 AM

    Assalamu Alaikum

    Jazakallahu khairan for input. Though I love the feedback on the events at IlmSummit it seems that Muslimmatters has become an advertising medium for AlMaghrib Institute.

    • Someone

      August 21, 2009 at 7:17 AM

      Walaikumasalaam,

      They are sharing with the rest of the world what they learnt and their experience. It’s good because it has encouraged me to join them next yr Insha Allaah. So whether it’s an ad for Almaghrib or a reflective sharing, it’s appreciated right? :D

    • michigan

      August 21, 2009 at 8:33 AM

      I think when we read and share stories of knowledge seekers it is in part a way to inspire us and those around us to strive and seek Allah’s pleasure through this medium as well. Dont we need good examples to follow? In a time when we hear so many depressing stories, shouldn’t we share success stories? Share the khayr?

      just my two cents

    • Siraaj

      August 21, 2009 at 3:58 PM

      Yeah, I kinda see your point, but keep in mind that both Shaykh Yasirs are AlMaghrib teachers, and they’re also the heads of this blog, so to speak, so whatever activities they’re doing, we’re following and reporting on.

      Siraaj

    • abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

      August 22, 2009 at 7:07 AM

      Wa alaykumus salam wa Rahmat Allahi wa Barakatuhu.

      When so many Muslimmatters writers were either (1) teaching, (2) studying, or (3) volunteering at one two-week event, I think it is fair to say that any article about that event — and how many articles have their been? — any ONE article about that event is not merely an ad.

      Whatever substance there was in your comment, this article is an example of extraordinary restraint — we could have had a phalanx of MM articles just about IlmSummit approaching the event from all three angles, and with multiple perspectives in every single category. :) Alhamdolillah.

  28. muslimah

    August 21, 2009 at 9:51 AM

    salam alaikum

    wow i just read the comments.. i couldnt bring myself to read this post. maybe later on..you guys, ilm summiters have no idea how lucky you are. be grateful to Allah. at least you went..im so jealous (in a good way)

  29. Hidaya

    August 21, 2009 at 10:42 AM

    *tears*

    That was absolutely beautiful, as someone who didn’t attend any Ilmsummit (& I pray to Allah swt that HE swt makes it easy for me to attend @ least once inshaAllah) the article gave me a free tour of what Ilmsummit was like.

    A BIGGG JZK to Br Bilal for going out of his way to make those videos.

    Dont keep us waiting for too long for more Ilm-Summit related stuff ;)

  30. Her

    August 21, 2009 at 11:03 AM

    BarakAllahu Feek

    Two duas:

    1. May Allah SWT grant the desirous the tawfeeq to witness IlmSummit 2010. Ameen.
    2. May Allah SWT raise women scholars in this ummah, so that sisters can have as much fun, InshAllah!

  31. Nihal Khan

    August 21, 2009 at 11:36 AM

    Some brothers decided to shave their heads at Ilm Summit. And some of those brothers were seen sleeping outside of their hotel rooms that night…. :)

    • Siraaj

      August 21, 2009 at 1:26 PM

      It’s all good, although I’m the one who shaved his head, I also gave him the topi that saved his marriage (according to him).

      Good times :D

      Siraaj

  32. hunza

    August 22, 2009 at 12:35 AM

    wow very cool website….this is also an interesting post. However I would like to see more articles about muslim majority countries as the focus here is more on American muslims. Please correct me If I am wrong.
    May be 1 or 2 post about political, cultural and social life of people living in Islamic countries will ensure a balnced coverage.
    One more suggestion as I am told that you have copied your site concept and design from a Indian site. Please inform if this is true or not. If I remember the Indian site is http:edited which is quite popular site of Indian Muslims.
    I wish u all a very Happy Ramadan Kareem!!!

    • Amad

      August 22, 2009 at 2:53 PM

      One more suggestion as I am told that you have copied your site concept and design from a Indian site. Please inform if this is true or not. If I remember the Indian site is http:edited which is quite popular site of Indian Muslims.

      I hope you are kidding. This site, link edited in order to prevent giving these plagiarizers any more press, completely knocked-off MM. They even made a similar logo, copied our entire presentation, and “we copied their site”?? Our site was up and running for more than a year before this guy’s knock-off. When the guy who started this website was informed of his copyright violation, he made no effort to fix it. In fact, he added authors to the site and copied their work, without even getting permission from them (I know that as a fact).

      Anyway, don’t get us started… I guess impersonation is the best form of flattery, and we’ll leave it at that for now. Though we are not ruling out some form of legal action.

      Whoever is responsible for this site should be ashamed of himself. If he is truly interested in doing dawah, and not making some googleads bucks off others’ work, then he should do the right thing, and change his site.

  33. Juli

    August 22, 2009 at 9:55 AM

    Subhanallah..I feel blessed to have the opportunity to actually be there even if it was for a few hours, just to meet up with my Columbus sisters and see the shuyukh. Was there for one ofhte sisters’ khatirah and Sh Yaser’s feedback, and Sh Waleed’s session on Adhkaar. Alhamdulillah. 12 hours of driving to Houston jazak to DH was comepltely worth it!
    Though DH says we might as well go to Hajj first, due to the cost of Ilmsummit itself, I still yearn to be an ilmsummittee inshaallah…when the time is right and best for me and my family.
    .

  34. PakistaniMD

    August 22, 2009 at 1:05 PM

    What is the difference between Ilm Summit and IlmFest? Is IlmFest more of a family event, like the ISNA convention?

  35. I Miss ilmsummit!!

    August 23, 2009 at 2:58 AM

    Ilmsummit: where amazing happens.. (I think Ilmsummit is far more deserving of this tagline then the nba)
    Ilmsummit `09 was practically the best two weeks of my life, I would sell everything I own and more to come back next year Inshallah. JazakAllahu Khairn for writting this brother!

  36. Nahyan

    August 23, 2009 at 9:20 AM

    very good summary, jazakallahukhair Siraaj.

    I know what you mean bro, it’s a tremendous experience.
    It brought back memories of my week long class 5am-11pm, + “afterparty” with shuyukh n students.

    InshaAllah i’ll be down there for 2010 IlmSummit.
    May Allah reward the teachers, volunteers, and students.

    -Nahyan

  37. Pingback: Yasir Qadhi’s Khutbah on Dua | IlmSummit 2009 | MuslimMatters.org

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