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Ilm Summit 2011, Coming Home


Even though I’m arriving on the wings of the angels, as soon as I walk through the doors of this hotel it feels like I’m coming home, coming back after being away for a long time.  Even though last year’s Ilm Summit had been my first, I missed this place the whole year.  Something would occasionally catch my eye and remind me of the bridge in the constantly shaking lobby, the tacky cow print chairs, the freezing ballroom, the light fixtures, or the ugliest carpet on the face of the earth.  At these times, reminiscing on Ilm Summit would take me back to Houston instantaneously and I would make du’a and pray that Allah continues to bring me back year after year.  As I pull my suitcase behind me and stop to check-in at the front desk, I can’t believe that I’m back in Houston and I can’t wait for Ilm Summit 2011.  These are my days as a student of knowledge, and I pray for this trip to be blessed.

Home is where the heart is.  And to be honest, the ugly carpet or the wheels hanging from the ceiling aren’t what make this place a home.  It’s the environment of seeking ‘ilm, the classes, and the sisters that really got to me.  I especially missed making salah in this jamah.  For weeks after Ilm Summit was over, the Surat Al Fatihah recitation I would hear multiple times a day stuck with me, and when I would recite in my salah, it sounded exactly like the one I heard here.  When making sujood, I would press my face into any other carpet, mat, or rug and wish to see that familiar ugly brown mess that had over those 10 days somehow grown on me.  Sometimes in the masjid or at my university, I would see a hijabi walking by or hear a familiar laugh and mistake her for one of the sisters from Ilm Summit.  Upon realizing that I was seeing just what I hoped to see, I would whip out my phone and send a quick text message: Assalamualaykum.  I was just thinking of you! I miss you! I hope you’re doing well insha’Allah.  Know that I’m making du’a for you. As the year went by, I started seeing these mirages less and less, and those random text messages and Facebook posts dwindled in number.

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The most bittersweet moments of missing Ilm Summit overwhelmed me when I was at any other AlMaghrib class that came to my Qabeelah during the year.  I would turn to the sisters who had gone to Ilm Summit that year with me and we would recount our crazy stories.  We would go on and on about the material that we covered, tajweed classes after fajr, jokes that the shuyukh told, hilarious entertainment session, and the fun times just hanging out late in the lobby.  It was at those times that I didn’t need to remind myself why I was willing to skip out on summer school to set aside a chunk of time or why I got a job so I could drop a bunch of money.  After being here last year, I really didn’t think that the classes of 2011 could top the ones in 2010, but alhamdulillah the shuyukh rose to the challenge and exceeded my highest expectations, once again pushing the limits and forcing me to think deep.  And I’ll admit, even if the classes had ended up being really horrible, I would come back and serve a 10 day sentence in this air conditioned prison just to see those familiar faces and make some new friends, the people that became my Ilm Summit family.

Once again, I pull my suitcase behind me and I can’t believe that I was standing here just 10 days ago, and I was telling myself that I had so much time.  Ten days have flown by for the second year in a row. I’m sad that it’s over, but I know as I walk out of the hotel, it’ll just be a year, and soon insha’Allah, I’ll be coming back home to see my Ilm Summit family.  

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Meena is a writer, podcaster, high school English teacher, wife, and new mom. She loves working with Muslim youth and is interested in literature, arts, and culture. She studied Comparative Literature and Creative Writing at the University of California, Irvine and has a Master’s in Education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She briefly dabbled in Classical Arabic studies in the US and is also studying the Asharah Qira'aat/10 Recitations. Check out her podcast and website Brown Teacher Reads: the brown literature circle you always wanted to be in. (



  1. Yasmin

    September 21, 2011 at 12:16 AM

    Sounds soooooo sweet to have such memorable moments.
    May Allah grant you many more in His obedience

  2. Arif Kabir

    September 21, 2011 at 12:52 AM

    Brings back a lot of memories…now that I think of it, there are so many great benefits of IlmSummit that we hadn’t even considered when deciding to go on the trip.

    Arif Kabir
    IlmSummit ’09 & ’12 (Insha’Allah)

  3. Umm Sulaim

    September 21, 2011 at 7:00 AM

    It’s been long since I attended an Islamic gathering; 5 years too long.

    I deliberately took an oath to that effect until I leave this town; I would rather not have cultural baggage stuffed down my throat in the guise of Islam.

    One of the reasons I was so pleased to come across MM was to participate in Muslim discussions and get a well deserved break from fighting battles! Seriously!

    Umm Sulaim

  4. Iman Kouvalis

    September 21, 2011 at 7:15 AM

    Aww, thanks for posting Meena! It was an awesome first experience for me that will always be memorable in my heart iA. Oh, and I loved the tacky cow print chairs. ;)

  5. shiney

    September 21, 2011 at 12:40 PM

    awww…these beautiful moments captured in your mind and in your words are making my heart ache for Ilm Summit even more. last year, i was so close to going but then couldn’t. I hope, i pray that i’ll be able to go in 2012 insha’Allah!

  6. Yasir Qadhi

    September 21, 2011 at 2:51 PM

    IlmSummit is truly the time of the year that I look forward to the MOST!

    Alhamdulillah, we are grateful to Allah for all that He has blessed us with.

    Insha Allah next year’s IlmSummit will be at a different time to accomodate more people (winter break of Dec 2012).

    Looking forward to it!


    • MuslimNoise

      September 21, 2011 at 5:18 PM

      Perhaps in London as well? One can always hope. ;)

    • Yasmin Yusuf

      September 23, 2011 at 4:46 PM

      What time would the winter breaks be in USA? I live in Australia, and inshaAllah i’m going to finish school, hopefully it would coincide so I can try to come to Ilm Summit once I finish

      • juma

        February 12, 2012 at 1:15 PM

        Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatUllahi wa barakathuhu, sis,

        winter break usually for college/university students here usually falls from mid-late december to late january

        and winter break for younger students(High school and lower grades) is usually the last week of december to jan 2. 

        insha’Allah the summit would fall in winter break..imagine getting warm and cozied up with knowledge..while its snowing and chilly outside..subhan’Allah that would be awesome!

        JazakiAllahu khair,
        assalamu alaikum wa rahmatUllahi wa barakathuhu

    • juma

      February 12, 2012 at 1:12 PM

      Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatUllahi wa barakathuhu, sheikh, when will we get the details for 2012 ilm summit??.. Yes please do make it in the winter break!!!!


      jazakAllahu khair,
      Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatUllahi wa barakathuhu

  7. Ibrahim

    September 21, 2011 at 3:47 PM

    IlmSummit 2011 was the best experience of my life, and the decision I made to go there was the best decision i made by far! Wallahi I can’t put my feelings for IlmSummit into words, and that was my first exposure to such a retreat!

    I miss the environment, the students, the instructors, the late night q&A sessions, and yes even that carpet!

    Im pretty sad of the long wait that is ahead for IlmSummit 2012, khair may Allah grant me the ability and the means to be a part of it.

  8. sharmeen

    September 21, 2011 at 4:31 PM

    Meena, we all feel the same way , believe me or not i have written the same note but yours truly sum up everything. it was a family and through fb i am still in the process of knowing some of the sisters which is the everlasting fruit of Ilm summit.
    thnks for a wonderful piece.
    see you soon! Inshallah

  9. Sharmin H

    September 21, 2011 at 6:27 PM

    Very well written, mashaAllah, and it really brings back good memories. I really loved IlmSummit this year and loved being your roomie! Honestly, this sums it up so well. :)

  10. Bintwadee3

    September 21, 2011 at 10:51 PM

    Baarak Allaahu feeki for this Meena :)

    It’s going to be more than a year until the next one though, seeing as how it’s now in December (oh yes – I’m counting). The wait will be more than worth it though, considering everything we learn. I ransacked my room for 20 minutes the other day, searching for my Ilm Summit 09 notes to incorporate them into my World Lit paper. I don’t know what I would’ve done if I couldn’t find them…

    Oh wait… I do. I would have printed out our trusty Scribe’s notes, may Allaah put immense barakah in her time and work. (Keep her in your ad`iyeh. Yall know who I’m talking about ;) )


  11. Mansoor Ansari

    September 22, 2011 at 10:14 AM

    Every year during Ilm Summit, the students updated those who were not attending it with what’s going with either posts on AlMaghrib forums or thru blog post here on MM. This seems to be the 1st regarding it this yr, I was really looking forward to reading more Ilmsummit 2011 – the classes, the exp , the stories but that didn’t happen.

    is something in the works to give us non-attendees the emanrush?

  12. ahsan arshad

    September 22, 2011 at 3:39 PM

    sounds as good as I could think of… since I am in touch with the al maghrib instructors on the internet…I would love to have an ilm summit in Pakistan

  13. Hamid

    September 24, 2011 at 10:01 AM


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