TORONTO – A moving and inspiring tribute to the late boxing legend, Muhammad Ali, was the highlight of the second day of the Reviving the Islamic Spirit Convention (RIS) being held in Toronto.
“My dad has inspired us and the entire world to be the best version of ourselves,” said Rasheda Ali Walch, the daughter of Muhammad Ali, on Saturday, December 24.
“As we remember Ali, don’t just talk about his courage,” said Imam Zaid Shakir in his tribute to Ali. “Try and grab a handful of that courage and put it in your heart.”
“Muhammad Ali was not perfect but he was used by God to do the work of God.”
Hamza Abdullah, a former National Football League player, in his passionate tribute to Ali said, “”Stand strong my brothers and sisters, I am with you. But more importantly, Allah is with you.””
“Muhammad Ali is my platform and he taught me how to shine a light into the darkness of the world,” added Hussain Abdullah, also a former NFL player and brother of Hamza Abdullah.
The early sessions of the day offered attendees spiritual guidance for living in the world.
Shaykh Mokhtar Maghraoui reminded the audience of the temporal nature of the world.
“Everything is destined to perish,” said Shaykh Maghraoui. “Nothing is constant, there is only change.”
“Life is an alternation between contraction and expansion,” he said.
“When we are in expansion we attribute it to our own selves. When we are constricted then we turn to the Divine.”
“We should know Him when we have, not only when we don’t have,” advised Shaykh Maghraoui. “I should know Allah for who He is and not only know Allah when He gives and for what He gives.”
Know Your Faith
Imam Khalid Latif spoke on the topic of ‘Defending Faith in an Age of Mockery’ and urged the convention goers that the best way to do so is to know their Faith.
“If you have dissatisfaction with this world, understand that you weren’t made for it,” said Imam Latif. “You were made for one much better.”
“You are bigger than any box that society shall put you in,” he added. “You can’t defend your faith if you don’t know what your faith is to you.”
In an inspirational speech, Ustadha Yasmin Mogahed counseled the audience to look to reform themselves.
“If we want to reach the sky, we must become stronger and deeply rooted,” she said. “If we do not care about the oppression of others, it is a sign that our hearts are dead”
“If we don’t have mercy on others, Allah won’t have mercy on us,” Mogahed added. “We have to be a people who care and take action.”
The convention has attracted Muslims from across North America and other western countries and has garnered social media attention with the #RIS2016 hashtag trending in Toronto.
The theme of this year’s convention is ‘Promise of God: Conditions of Revival’ and is set to conclude on Sunday.
RIS was first launched 15 years ago by Muslim youth to tackle the backlash on Islam and Muslims after the 9/11 tragedy and to build a bridge of understanding with non-Muslims.
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.
Muslims are the fastest growing religious community in Canada, according to the country’s statistical agency, Statistics Canada.
Canada’s Muslim population increased by 82 percent over the past decade – from about 579,000 in 2001 to more than 1 million in 2011.
Muslims represent 3.2 percent of Canada’s total population.
A 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.