For quite some time, there has existed the rhetoric that when multiple Muslim organizations team up on an initiative, political differences are inevitable and will jeopardize the success of the project. It is further speculated that the more participants are involved in a project, the more impractical it will become. This negative perspective towards the collaboration of Muslim organizations and communities was put to the test in what was widely referred to as an epic milestone of dawah in North America.
On January 21-25, 2013, an extraordinary moment in history unfolded, the ripples of which are still being felt. NYM Ink, in partnership with five Muslim Students Associations in Western Canada, joined together to organize and implement the first ever regional Islam Awareness Week! Five prominent keynote lecturers toured the University of British Columbia (Vancouver, BC), Simon Fraser University (Burnaby, BC), University of Alberta (Edmonton, AB), University of Saskatchewan (Saskatoon, SK), and University of Regina (Regina, SK) to present a series of lectures centered around the life and legacy of Prophet Muhammad (salallahu alayhi wassalam).
Ustadh Abdullah Al Andalusi (London, UK), highly renowned for his Muslim Debate Initiative (MDI) in the UK, made his debut in Canada as he presented his lecture, ‘Message Delivered’, which prompted Non-Muslims to re-evaluate their understanding of the purpose of life. Sh. Musleh Khan (Toronto, ON) delved into the life of the Rassul (saw) as a family man and derived practical lessons from the Seerah, in order to draw closer to the ones we love. Sh. Mohammed Yaffa (Halifax, NS) explored the heralds of divine speech, and the common message of Tawheed the Messengers (alayhum assalat wassalam) came with. Boonaa Mohamed (Toronto, ON), popular for his spoken word poetry and great creative ability, engaged the crowds in the ‘Art of Worship’, which also included local talent! Dr. Syed Ibn Iqbal’s (Saskatoon, SK) lecture on ‘Revolutionary Justice’ evaluated the validity of the Western standoff with Shariah, drawing upon instances in the life of the Rassul (saw) as well as contemporary studies to show that Shariah is the ideal and balanced way of life.
The level of sincerity behind Islamic work is often reflected in the amount of barakah Allah (swt) places in those efforts. From the start of planning Islam Awareness Week, until now, we continue to witness the blessings Allah (swt) has placed in this project. From a logistical and experiential standpoint, it was phenomenal how every challenge was followed by ease and prosperity, alhamdulillah. A notable example was during the first day of Islam Awareness Week at Simon Fraser University where two new sisters embraced Islam following the evening seminars. Earlier that day, the MSA at SFU was dealing with a variety of logistical obstacles – but after putting their trust in Allah (swt) and striving with Ihsan – He rewarded them with something much better.
There is no doubt that IAW 2013 had a tremendous impact domestically and internationally. The program received significant media attention, and was covered by CBC, CTV, and various university newspapers. Moreover, this special project had a transformative effect on the organizers, as well as Muslims across numerous communities. A platform has been established and a door has been opened for future collaborative dawah projects, on potentially larger scales! What was once deemed impossible has now transpired, and Allah (swt) has granted us the honour of being part of a turning point in history that could be the spark of the revitalization of the Ummah! If you did not have the opportunity to witness Islam Awareness Week 2013 live, don’t fret! You can still tune into the NYM Ink YouTube Channel and view memorable highlights in addition to the full lectures, with one full lecture being released each day! For more information about IAW 2013 in general, check out www.nymink.com.
A huge thanks goes to the Muslim Students Associations who collaborated in this project, the extraordinary volunteers who put in a great deal of time and effort at the dawah booths and events, and the sponsors who helped finance this noble project. May Allah (swt) accept our efforts, guide us to a better future and more opportunities to work together, and grant us noble positions in Jannat Al Firdous. Ameen.