Alhamdulillah I had the honor of visiting Imam Zaid Shakir with a few brothers from Al-Madina Institute at the 2009 Rihla Deen Intensive program to discuss the United Against Malaria event and other items. I was very impressed at the calmness and collective coolness of everyone present. It was probably around 150 total people that I saw there. The organizers didn’t harass us or check for any name tags. In fact when we entered, no one really questioned us. We asked to pray since we arrived just after they had finished praying Salat-ul-Maghrib. No one else had them on but you still can recognize people who’ve been part of the program for a week and then 4 random brothers walking in looking all around like it was their first time (which it really was). A brother showed us a room. We later found out that he was one of the main organizers. Respectable adab (character, etc.) is a clear sign of a true student of knowledge. These are hard to come by today. You only find them at programs like this.
The Rihla always amazes me from what people who’ve participated in it have told me personally and from the previous Rihla blogs (‘05,’06). This was my first time being physically on location. I am not attending it but was just there to visit Imam Zaid as I said earlier. It was also a good opportunity to visit my sister who is one of the Rihla students this year. After sitting with Imam Zaid, we joined them to listen to Imam Zaid and Shaykh Yahya Rhodus recite some beautiful poetry along with other brothers. When Imam Zaid went over the translation of the poetry and everyone sat quietly listening and all you heard was Imam Zaid’s voice. It pays off to literally go on a “rihla” and dedicate a few weeks studying the deen away from the dunya. You get a real student-teacher relationship due to the small class size and no one is left out. SubhanAllah, may Allah make it easy for all of us to one day enjoy this feeling.
Lastly, I met Shaykh Faraz Rabbani while leaving and he told me that Shaykh Hamza Yusuf was playing football with the brothers yesterday. When he told me this, I was shocked. I mean really, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf playing football. Apparently, Shaykh Hamza was the QB and threw a touchdown. Now Shaykh Faraz wasn’t sure how it works becuase he doesn’t know much about the game of football (by the way I’m talking about American Footbal – NFL style), so I don’t know how sahih this is but alhamdulillah. Shaykh Faraz has updated me as I made the mistake in this chain of narration.
I was just there for a few hours and I had this experience, imagine the entire program. There is so much barakah with our scholars and their real students.
For those who are in Maryland, the Rihla has weekend passes. You can find out for more information here.