TORONTO – Inspiring thousands of attendees, the largest Muslim convention in Canada has concluded this weekend after luring record breaking attendance from around the world.
“Attendees joined us from across the globe and are sure to leave motivated and inspired,” Farhia Ahmed, Media Relations Directors of the “Reviving the Islamic Spirit Convention” told OnIslam.net.
Over 20,000 people showed up at Toronto’s Metro Convention Centre this past weekend to listen to leading Muslim scholars, personalities and artists.
Ticket sales to the convention were closed on Saturday evening as the facilities reached its capacity.
Overflow rooms with TV screens were set up to handle the large crowd that showed up for the annual gathering, which was celebrating its 10th anniversary.
“From lectures to performances, the bazaar to the food court, there was a lot for family and friends to do,” added Ahmed.
Organized by a group of young, active Canadian Muslims, the three-day convention opened on Friday, December 23.
The theme of the convention, “Control, Chaos or Community: Three Ways, One World, Our Choice”, was chosen to address the many challenges plaguing humanity today beyond the confines of cultural, religious or intellectual divides, according to the organizers.
“Over the years, convention themes have made an effort to address issues over extremism and encourage young Muslims to become engaged in their communities,” Fouzan Khan, the convention’s founder and director, told OnIslam.net.
An impressive galaxy of distinguished scholars and Muslim personalities from around the world addressed the convention.
Leading among attendees were prominent scholar Dr Jamal Badawi and Sheikh Abdallah Idris from Canada, Prof. Tariq Ramadan from Switzerland and Dr. John Esposito from the United States.
Also attending were Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah from Mauritania, Habib Ali Al-Jifri from Yemen and Dr. Tawfique Chowdhury from Australia.
This year’s gathering also featured some leading artists such as world renowned artist Sami Yusuf, Sheikh Mishary Al-Afasy, a world renowned Qur’an reciter from Kuwait and Danish hip-hop group Outlandish.
Speakers addressed the gathering on topics ranging from faith, spiritual and family issues to the environmental crisis, the Arab Spring and Occupy movements.
Dr. Tawfique Chowdhury, a well-known Australian scholar, urged attendees to renew their connection with God.
“If you truly love Allah, Allah will love you,” said Chowdhury. “Prefer Allah and what He loves over what you love.”
“Always think about Allah’s mercy and forgiveness,” he added.
Prof. Tariq Ramadan urged attendees toward personal reformation.
“Allah is asking for you to change yourself – be a part of those who are reforming the world,” he said.
“Don’t shape your life by what they say but by what He expects.”
The message of working on personal transformation was also given by Yemen’s Habib Ali Al-Jifri.
“All problems that exist begin and are rooted in the problems of the self – change yourself,” said Al-Jifri.
South African scholar Sheikh Sulaiman Mulla urged the audience to actively engage with the Qur’an to bring about this change and to do so without delay.
“Allah tells us repeatedly in the Qur’an to ‘reflect deeply’ – do it,” he said. “Aspire to inspire before you expire.”
The need to be socially conscious and active in civic projects was emphasized by other speakers.
“We need leadership, not passing the buck,” said leading American scholar Sheikh Hamza Yusuf.
“We need creative solutions, the carrot and the stick aren’t enough anymore.
“Every believer should be a source of benefit,” said popular American Imam Zaid Shakir. “Be strong; be independent.”
The environment also took a center stage in the address by Dr. Seyyed Hossein Nasr, a leading scholar of Islamic, Religious and Comparative Studies in the world today.
“What if God behave with His Power the way we have been for the last 200 years,” Dr. Nasr told the gathering. “God protects even the ant.”
“God has created the world in such a way that nature will have the last word.”
Appearances by Yusuf Islam and Sami Yusuf and performances by popular artists, Junaid Jamshed of Pakistan, Khalid Belrhouzi of France, the Moroccan Fez Singers and Danish group, Outlandish delighted the audiences.
“With many Canadian Muslims contributing to the fabric of the Canadian society, this popular convention has inculcated the foundation for faith while being able to incorporate the balance to contribute positively as Canadian Muslims,” Khan told OnIslam.net.
Muslims make around 2.8 percent of Canada’s 32.8 million population, and Islam is the number one non-Christian faith in the Roman Catholic country.
A recent report from the Washington-based Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life said that Muslims are expected to make up 6.6% of Canada’s total population in 2030.
A recent survey showed that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian, and that they are more educated than the general population.