It all started at 12:40am when we saw the banners for the Ta`leef tour events on the Benevolence Australia face book page…. We were so excited that Ustadh Usama Canon was coming to Melbourne along with his colleagues; we said we have to go this time, and the tickets are only ten dollars!!! So a few days later we booked our tickets and waited for the exciting days to come.
The ‘Jordan Richter Story’ by the renowned FILMMAKER/PHOTOGRAPHER/CREATIVE DIRECTOR Mustafa Davis,
was the first event that we went to. It was about a skate boarder who embraced Islam in the mid 90′s and was forced to leave the thing he loved most, skateboarding. It was very interesting, telling the story of his life and how he was treated being a convert Muslim and American at the same time and that these two things don’t go together. He was told that it wasn’t allowed and so on. Fifteen years later he learns that skateboarding is not prohibited in Islam and making up for lost time, attempts a comeback.
There were about 100 people there, all different nationalities, younger people and older ones. After we had watched the excellent film there was a brilliant panel discussion and the audience could ask questions. I think the film was very relevant for both Muslims and non Muslims and so was the panel discussion. The issue about being in a country that isn’t a Muslim country and how Islam is relevant but we have to make ourselves relevant for the time and place we live in and to mix in with your society and to be with your non Muslim family (if you have) say at big family lunches, Christmas and the like was made clear along with other questions that were answered.
The next day was the ‘Stories in the Park’ event, at the picturesque Coburg Lake Reserve. The atmosphere was so welcoming; there were all kinds of people there, all different ages and nationalities. The atmosphere of being in the open air right under the sky with Ustadh Usama Canon’s welcoming cheerful voice that made the whole difference, creating a place for anyone and everyone to come, sit and relax and laugh every five to ten minutes! Amir Sulaiman‘s poetry was really brilliant also. It sounds very different when it is live and without music. You could just feel the sincerity in his words.
One of the stories Ustadh Usama told us in the park was about a very poor man who had a dream that someone came to him and said buried under this tree there is a hundred thousand dirhams (if I remember the amount correctly) he asked “Do they have blessing?” he replied “No”.
The next night the man came to him and said, “There are this many dirhams left under the tree”. He asked “Do they have blessing?” he replied “No”. On the third night he came to him again. He decided to tell his wife about it, after he told her she said to him “Rather you don’t have blessing!!!!!” The man kept on coming to him every night telling him there is less and less, each time he asked “Do they have blessing?” And each time he said “No”, until there was only two dirhams left under the tree, he again asked “Do they have blessing ?” this time he replied, “Yes!” So he went and took them, and bought a fish. He took it home to his wife to cook. When she cut it open she found a big shining jewel that was worth so much more than all that was buried under the tree at the start! And this was because the two dirhams had blessing!
Sunday morning was ‘Muslim Identity in the West’ with the Australian graphic designer Peter Gould in association with the Islamic Museum of Australia. He talked a bit about his life and the expedition he went on around Australia, discovering the history of the first Muslims to come to Australia. After that they showed us a short documentary trailer of the expedition, (the full documentary will be coming out soon) which was so interesting.
It showed some of the mosques that were built by the Indonesians and Afghan’s, one of the mosques was built with what looked like reeds for the roof and it’s still there. It is so amazing because it dates back to the sixteen hundreds! They said that some of the words in the language the Aborigines speak are actually Arabic and Indonesian. We never knew that Indonesians came to Australia before the Afghans. And they were saying that look how many hundreds of years ago Allah Ta’ala wanted good for this country!
(an interesting aside: an in depth history of the early Afghani Broken Hill Masjid)
In the afternoon was the ‘Meditation and Mindfulness’. A practical workshop with Ustadh Usama Canon and Micah Anderson.
We arrived late so we missed almost all of the ‘mindfulness’ part, which was what I was looking forward to the most!
We had our very first meditation lesson with Micah Anderson. Micah told us the different purposes we should take these lessons for. So we are able to know our selves in the times we need to (“Whoever knows himself, knows his Lord”. HADITH) , such as when we are praying, etc. He said we should all make a time everyday to sit by ourselves and meditate as it is very beneficial and we need it. Lots of the people said it was making them really sleepy and that it was hard to stay awake (I also felt like that) he said it’s because we are actually tired and we don’t know it because we don’t know ourselves. We try to make ourselves do too many things and our head needs a rest. Ustadh Usama told us two stories in relation to the meditating.
There was a man who used to buy and sell the whole day but he never noted down how much money he was making. So someone asked him. ”You never record how much money you have earned, so how do you remember?” He said “When I pray ‘Ishaa at night then all of what I have earned comes to my head”. Ustadh Usama then said may Allah save us from being like those people! And Insha’Allah mediation will help us know ourselves and be in tune with our bodies, so when we pray we aren’t thinking about how much the bills were today or things like it.
The other one was about a man who had been fighting in the army and had come back. One day he was in a shop and as he was waiting in line to get his shopping beeped at the register, an older lady in front of him was talking to this baby in a very affectionate way. He was thinking, ‘Hurry up it’s not the time to talk to a baby’! After she had finished talking to the baby she handed the baby over to the cashier who started talking to the baby after she had finished talking to the baby they both started chatting! He was still there waiting, by that time he could feel his insides heating up as he was getting angrier and angrier. Finally the cashier handed the baby over to the older lady and she went. He must have started chatting with the cashier because later on he found out that the baby was her son! Her husband had died in the very army that he had just been fighting in and she had no other option but to work, and so twice a day her mother brought the baby to see her! And it was because he had done meditation lessons that he knew that it was anger that was bothering him and he was able to stop himself from saying or doing anything.
‘The Challenges Faced by Muslim Youth’ on Monday was kind of an interactive one. They told us, ”We want to make it different, we’re trying to work on not stuffing information into the youth like it usually is, we want it to be more like anything you have been wanting to say, any questions, just tell us ”. They said they wanted to hear our voices and it was time the youth could speak up from their perspective. They have a quote for Ta`leef: ”Come to Ta’leef as you are, to Islam as it is!” They’re very sincere, humble and jolly people and you always feel very comfortable with them, it was just three days but all the different things that they spoke about in just three days was almost too much to remember clearly exactly what they had said! Sometimes things just come up and then I remember ‘oh yes, remember that’. Masha’Allah they are such excellent speakers!!
Sidi Mustafa told one story of once when he was out with his father in a restaurant. They were waiting for the food and in front of them were two large groups of people; his father asked him, ”Can you see any difference between the two groups?” So he looked and looked again and said, “No”. He told him to look again, so he looked, and said, ”One is larger than the other, and one is Muslim and one’s not”. His father told Mustafa, “No look again”. So he said “At last I realized that the Muslim group looked more angry and fiercer than the other group. So then he asked me, ”Would you prefer me to be like the Muslim group or the other one?” Mustafa said on hearing that I really didn’t know what to say ”.
And that story was related to some questions on why so many of the Muslim youth don’t want to come to the mosques and religious circles. So many of the Muslims are not smiley and do not have good character .They don’t show the real beauty of Islam. (”I was only sent to perfect character” HADITH) Sidi Mustafa said the best piece of advice he was ever given was from his father, (an atheist) was, “On your way to becoming a good Muslim, make sure you don’t become a crappy human being”.
They gave some examples that they had witnessed, like a person comes to the Imam and tells him he is suffering from depression and he needs to talk to him. He is told his Imaan is weak and go and pray two raka`as, and there is no such thing as depression in Islam! A new Muslim woman walks in to the mosque with short pants on and she gets told her Salaah is invalid and to pray again. Or some people in the front row on Jumu`ah are wearing jeans: the khutbah is about halal and haram and not wearing jeans! Sidi Mustafa once got told when he was Maliki at the time to not pray with his hands down and that his Salaah was invalid! So they were saying the youth aren’t going to be interested at all in becoming good Muslims if this is how they are treated. They said we really need to have Muslim counselors and Imams that understand the time and place we live in. And they said that the elders have to listen to the youth sometimes and listen to the problems they are facing instead of just telling them that they are lost or the like. And they should listen to what they have to say about why they aren’t interested in coming to the mosque or places like it.
‘Inspiration and Faith’ with Film-maker Mustafa Davis and poet Amir Sulaiman was a very interesting and inspirational discussion and the last event with them we attended. They were talking about their art and what they do it for and why they do it. It was very interesting, especially hearing it directly from them. The very nice thing about their art is that it’s all connected to their Deen. And they do it because they love it, they don’t do it as their job, they sincerely love it and that is why I think they are able to make such brilliant films/photography and poems. Their art is for a purpose, as Sidi Mustafa said, “I don’t do art just for the sake of art, it’s my way of expressing my emotions, for example if I wanted to tell Amir that I love him then I wouldn’t say it, I would express it in a film and then give it to him.”
Amir had to leave early to go to Sydney so Sidi Mustafa wasn’t going to stay much longer. But thankfully people kept asking him questions, even ones that weren’t related to the topic. The session continued for about another hour and a half or two hours. He requested people to stop asking hard questions as the session was already so long. It was like everybody had so much to ask, but normally had no one to discuss these issues with, so they were just availing themselves of the rare opportunity.
The hours passed very quickly and before you knew it, it was the afternoon and I don’t think even five minutes of it was boring.
So, if you ever get the chance to go to these kinds of events with these people then go because you will be really very thankful for the rewarding experience!
And a BIG Jazakallahu Khairan Katheeran to Benevolence Australia for organizing this tour and giving everyone such a great opportunity. If it wasn’t for Benevolence then I don’t think this would have happened! May Allah increase them in their efforts.
OUDIMENTARY is Ustadh Usama and Micah Anderson’s site ‘dedicated to the research and preservation of the ancient tradition of aloeswood use in a modern-day setting’.
…a HUGE appreciative JAZAKILLAHU KHAIRAN KATHEERAN to Bint A for this exclusive account of her experiences with the Ta’leef Tour…Insha’Allah take the time to discover the talents of so many gifted Muslims through the links, along with rich and fascinating facts and information about the history of Islam in Australia…
…Insha’Allah next post is an interview with Bint M sharing her reflections on the Melbourne Ta’leef Tour…
…Du’a for ALL mentioned in this post and for all Australian Muslims…may Allah Ta’ala’s Mercy continue to shower Hidayah ‘Down Under’…Ameen.
All good is from Allah Ta’ala whereas mistakes are from this humble speck. May Allah Ta’ala Bless all readers, bringing you all closer to Him and His Rasul SallAllahu alaihi wasallam. May He accept our humble efforts and grant us the capacity to be good and do good. Ameen.