Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,
Before attending my first Camp Sunnah last year, I have had a number of friends try to explain their camp experience to me; however, they all seemed to end with a similar phrase:
“You can’t explain how amazing Camp Sunnah was; you have to experience it yourself”.
Three days into the camp, I understood what they meant. There are no words to explain what goes on inside you when you dedicate a week of your life to serving and being active with your brothers, worshipping your Lord in congregation five times a day, practicing the Sunnah every opportunity you get, reading and memorizing the Quran, and gaining Islamic knowledge from teachers that emphasize character and attitude; always leading by example. Everyone benefits from the camp in their own unique way. I will share my two most impactful takeaways: feeling limitless and becoming selfless. At times, these went hand in hand, as you will see by the following examples.
- It is 10:30pm and the groups are splitting up and heading to their group rooms to get to sleep. I slip into bed and fall asleep for what felt like only a few minutes when my group amir (leader) gently wakes me saying “it’s 3:00am and it’s our group’s turn to go on guard duty and let the previous group get some sleep.” Although there was no harm to guard our brothers and sisters from, we were learning to practice the Sunnah of our beloved Messenger (PBUH). Additionally, we were learning to make sacrifices (lose sleep) for our Ummah, and finally, we were able to witness our own capabilities and break through our self-imposed limitations.
In my case, I always felt that I needed 8 hours of sleep every night and could not function otherwise. Yet on nights when my group had guard duty, we got a lot less sleep than 8 hours. Despite this, I found that I could make it through a blessed day of Quran in the morning, a workout and meditation before breakfast, a couple beneficial lectures, archery and basketball- and we were only half way through the day at this point. I was able to overcome the belief that I must have a full night’s sleep in order to get up for fajr (morning prayer), or to wake up a little early for qiyaam (night prayer), or read Quran before rushing out to a busy day of school or work. I was able to experience the barakah (blessing) that Allah would place in my time when I make sacrifices for my fellow brothers and sisters.
- It is time to head out and enjoy some outdoor activities. Today’s activity will be kayaking in the lake next to our cabin. However, our group is on lunch duty and we will be cooking for the others so that the food is ready once they finish their activities. The brothers come in from outdoors with hungry stomachs and grab seats next to their companions on the tables and chairs we had set up. My group walks around handing out food and I was responsible for giving the chicken pieces. What stood out for me was the way brothers would remove a large chicken piece from their plate and switch it with the smaller piece on their brother’s plate. They preferred that their brother have the bigger piece over themselves. This was the Sunnah of the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him, and to see it manifest around me softened my heart in an unexplainable way, and drove me to be more selfless and let go of false beliefs of how much meat I need to eat every day or with every meal. It elevates your thinking and brings you closer to the One in which whom we will all return.
These examples do not do justice to Camp Sunnah- you will just have to experience it for yourself.
– Br. Ali Hamada
This post is part of series to provide insight into NYM events and the impact they’ve had on attendees and volunteers.