isna trip and photo galleries

peace and greetings. before i start talking about my isna trip, for those in a rush, i finally got around to putting up my picture galleries on my website. gthumb is a really nice program, i used it to both get the pictures off my camera and to generate the albums. very nice.

anyhow, on to the isna trip. so this year could really be considered my first year going to isna trip, although it wasn’t. i went to the chicago isna a long time ago with my family, but i am too young to remember much of anything; except that i stayed with the little kids, went to the sears tower, and got an autograph from the famous egyptian reciter, sheikh muhammad jibreel.

so this year is the first year that i was really old enough to be aware of what’s going on and such.

the first thing i want to discuss is the lectures. first and foremost, i was very pleasantly surprised to see sheikh mokhtar maghrawi there – i love that shiekh. and, amazingly enough, he remembered me and took me by the hug when he saw me – may Allah bless him and his family and grant them eternal happiness in this life and in the hereafter.

so while there, i attended 3 lectures for sheikh mokhtar. the first was talking about the tongue and how a muslim should use his tongue. in brief summary, it discussed how we talk a lot, and that if we were to use our arms the way we use our tongues, we wouldn’t be able to move our arms from how tired they would be. so he stressed on how the more we talk, the more likely we are to say things that we shouldn’t say. he also discussed how one should be very careful as to what they say and how they say it, along with the fact that we should be very tolerant and lenient. ultimately, he said, as a general rule, that a scholar taught his student that “when you are in a situation where you feel like speaking, then force yourself to remain silent. and when you are in a situation where you don’t feel like speaking, then and only then can you speak and answer.”

his second lecture was on the ears and eyes and how these are a gift from Allah and how we should be careful in the way we use them. the main point that stuck in my mind now was the fact that he swore that even the stealing of a small glance at something that we shouldn’t see or listening to a small sound that we shouldn’t listen to can change the state of our heart. and i think that sentence speaks for itself, and many of us know that this is true if we reflect on our lives and times when we’ve seen this happen to ourselves as well.

sheikh mokhtar had another lecture on a followup topic to the above two topics, but it was packed full and they wouldn’t let me in… but the third lecture of his that i attended was a fiqh q&a lecture given by him and the president of isna. essentially, he gave a nice introduction which was, in my opinion, the most important part of the talk. essentially, the question being posed was, “do laws (specifically the laws of Islam) change over time as there people change, or do the laws stay constant even as the people change throughout time?” – and his answer was no, the laws of Islam do not change over time; however, you cannot take that part of the answer alone. he goes on to explain that there are 5 major important principles that are the reason behind all laws - life, mind, faith, property and family/honor (not in order). certain things that are prohibited are always and will always be prohibited - for example, stealing. other things, however, that are prohibited can be legal only in a situation of must in which one of the five principles will be violated. the example he gave was that if you were in a desert and are dying of thirst, and stumble across an oasis but its owner isn’t there, then you can drink just enough so that you remove the threat to the principle (life, in this case), and then wait till the owner gets back and pay him for whatever food or water you took without his permission. so basically, certain prohibitions can’t and won’t change because of the inherit reasons behind why they are prohibited, whereas other things can be temporarily made legal in the case that one of those 5 principles is being violated. sorry, my explanation isn’t all that great, but i tried.. hehe.

i also went to another fiqh lecture by another shiekh who discussed some of the tradeoffs of following only one set mathhab versus following parts of the mathahib versus not following a mathhab at all… pretty interesting stuff, i should read up a bit more on this.

what else… ah, it was the first time i heard sheikh hamza yusuf speak in real life. my thoughts? first and foremost, he’s a very good speaker (as in style, etc). i know that some people have their doubts about him based on some comments he made a few years ago, but i think that ultimately, each of us is a human being, which means we are all going to make mistakes from time to time… i think overall, his speeches are excellent in that it seems that the american public would be willing to listen to him if for no other reason than the fact that they can relate to him.

the first big talk he did was about islam and its state in the world now; how the Prophet (peace be upon him) set strict rules for jihad in which he ordered the companions not to kill women and children; and how, as thus, many of the events being attributed as “islamic extremist actions” today have nothing to do with islam. his second talk which i attended was a largely history filled talk (there was some history in the first talk too). he talked about the fact that islam was on the mind and tongues of our founding fathers; how clauses in the constitution were made with muslims in mind (for example, there was, at some point, a debate of using “Jesus” in place of “God” – but the idea was left out for muslims and jews and others). he also said that napolean’s napoleonic code was heavily influenced by maliki fiqh, which is pretty interesting…

two other scholars i got to hear this time around that i really loved – one was sheikh suhaib webb – this sheikh is amazing because of how he talks – he’s a convert from 10 years ago, and was one of the msa folks, so the way he talks is a way that youth can relate too. in summary, he’s awesome.

and finally, last but far from least, sheikh muhammad alshareef. this guy is also awesome, he has an amazing way of talking and is very interesting. i bought two of his cds before i left, “when wolves become shepherds” and “the mountain pass.” i think someone told me that he runs the al-maghrib islamic forums, i think i am going to join these at some point insha’Allah. the cds and stuff are done by eman rush.

so that was the lectures in a nutshell. a cracked nutshell. yeah. oh and the reciter, mu7ammad jibreel, was there this year too – i didn’t get his autograph this time around though…

so the lectures were one of the best parts of the whole trip. in addition to the lectures, i got to see many of my friends, many of whom i haven’t seen in a while, and many of whom i won’t see for a while due to the fact that they are studying abroad as well. so that was awesome.

of course every such program has its advantages and disadvantages. the disadvantages… well, lets just say that helped make the disadvantages several folds worse. no further explanation necessary.

overall, i think its a good idea and there’s a lot one can potentially benefit by going, but it all depends on one’s intentions. personally, i don’t plan on going back until i am married, insha’Allah.

that’s all for my long rambly blog entry of the day - peace out.

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