…Bint M shares her impressions from attending the Ta’leef Collective programs in Melbourne, Australia, December 2011…as interviewed by her mother…JazakiLlahu khairan katheeran abada…
1 – What were you looking forward to the most?
a. Possibly just seeing the Ta’leef Collective group in real life and hearing them speak while sitting before them as opposed to listening and watching through a video; never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined myself to be lucky enough to experience a “Ta’leef Tour” as the program was called.
b. Watching the screening of the Jordan Richter story because we had never been to see a movie so that in itself was exciting but principally because of who the film-maker was; we’d seen numerous photographs and video clips of Sidi Mustafa’s and were impressed realizing what a gifted photographer he is and so we definitely wanted to see the film and to know the Jordan Richter story.
2 – What was the most memorable part of it?
a. One of the many memorable moments as I reflect on the “Ta’leef Tour Melbourne” was the screening of the film and the talk entitled ‘Inspiration and Faith’, simply because they were the first and last sittings with them. The ‘Inspiration and Faith’ session I would likely rate the most memorable but then again I can’t deny that I wasn’t as exhilarated in any of the sessions as much as on the screening night and it was also that night that I felt and perceived just how fortunate I was to be there.
b. Also another very fond memory I have is of praying Salatul Maghrib in congregation with Ustath Usama, I just felt so blessed and honoured and when I went into sujood, what immediately came to mind was the fortieth verse from Surah Naml:
…This is by the Grace of my Lord – to test me whether I am grateful or ungrateful... (27:40)
3 – What do you think is the most important lesson you learnt?
a. “BE YOURSELF”, feel comfortable doing what you love doing, being who you want to be, achieving what you aspire to achieve…as long as it doesn’t go against the teachings of Allah ‘Azza wa Jall’s Beloved SallAllahu alaihi wasallam.
b. from each of the sessions a different lesson was taken in and I just wanted to share a few of my thoughts: Until I watched the screening and also heard each of the panelist conversion stories I wasn’t aware of how truly difficult, lonely and sad lives some lived before they converted and that these people aren’t the exception; parts of the film were really heartbreaking.
Prior to our session on “Muslim Identity in the West” I had no idea what a history we as Australian Muslims had to be proud of; that Muslim presence in Australia in fact goes right back to the sixteen hundreds!
c. I am indebted to Sidi Micah for the meditation lesson he gave us. Explaining in a way that was so easy to follow, the whole concept of meditation and the reason why it’s useful for us all living such hectic lives. Then he actually had us all do fifteen minutes or so of it with him guiding us through step by step; it was a remarkable experience and I in truth sincerely enjoyed it. Before which I could never fathom why people would waste time ‘meditating’ and I sort of used to mock it a bit until that humid afternoon with Sidi Micah.
He elucidated that our goal wasn’t to try and escape from realities we are facing to a world where dilemmas ceased to exist etc., but rather to try and get in tune with our bodies and ourselves and be able to recognize and control our negative emotions before they even visibly appear. This can be used as a way to help become present in our devotional prayers and thus be a way/means through which we get closer to our Lord.
d. Poet Amir Sulaiman joined us on the last day for a mighty mirthful and light hearted hour for ‘Inspiration and Faith’ with Sidi Mustafa. These two Sidis are a hilarious couple from the first instant. I can now fully appreciate and understand how and why they are each so passionate about what they do. They told us that the art they do is not their hobby nor their day job but really the way they express themselves…..every moment of this session was thoroughly engaging and this one was one I did not want to end
4 – Which was the most enjoyable talk and why?
I think it would have to be ‘Inspiration and Faith’ with Poet Amir Sulaiman and Film Director Sidi Mustafa Davis, because:
a. Sidi Mustafa and Sidi Amir were so just hilarious entertaining together, humorously cracking jokes about each other and yet at the same time conveying to the audience how dear and how much respect they actually had for each other.
b. this session was different altogether being the only hour we had with Sidi Amir and so it was an ‘arty’ dialogue.
c. they each articulated the process and sequence of making their respective pieces of art in such a way that I found it fascinating and engrossing.
d. as much as I loved and benefited from all the other events; topics requiring concentration, so this jovial afternoon was the perfect ending to our attendance with the Tour.
e. I was struck by the way Sidi Mustafa so patiently and cheerfully persevered alone for an hour and a half answering questions from the crowd when he was visibly weary – and they were all women asking save one youngster….all in all I admired how each of our Sidis answered queries put to them; sincerely giving advice and really trying to help you.
5 – What was the cross section like of the people who attended?
The crowd was indeed an interesting multitude – from all walks of life and every cultural background; from the old Somali Grandfather in his azure wide sleeved garment to a few handfuls of muddle headed youngsters trying to make sense of everything, from a bunch full of lively children frolicking around, much to their parents dismay, to the anxious and perplexed faced Aunties and Uncles – to describe but a fraction…then there were of course those who had only recently embraced Islam and numerous other keen eyed listeners as well.
7 – What was the most memorable moment for you?
a. Goodbye Salams to Sidi Mustafa
b. Indelibly left in my mind are the moments my brother gave Salam to Sidi Mustafa and Ustath Usama; the serene manner and the genuineness and warmth with which they greeted him; a stranger to them – I found extraordinary, moments I shall not forget.
8 – What do you think they were trying to achieve?
To portray Islam to us all in a way that we fully understood that this religion seeks to make matters easy for people, that is Islam is not a rigid, unaccommodating and difficult way of life. Our beautiful Deen has plenty of room and flexibility for differing viewpoints, opinions and understandings. Islam is for everybody and more so ACCEPTS everyone whatever stage or phase of their faith journey they may be traversing through.
9 – What were the main topics of discussion?
a. The issue of identity particularly for the youth though not singularly – how do we reconcile being children of whom one or both parents have migrated from another country and knowing that part of us sort of belong to that particular ethnicity, yet facing that it’s as clear as day for all to see that we’ve been born, raised and educated in Australia, speak the language, understand the culture and how the people around us think etc etc.
b. and also the topic of how we can be comfortably and even ostensibly Australian and still completely in love and at ease with our Deen without contradicting the Shari’ah……..both eye opening topics for me.
…once again a request for Du’a for ALL who were involved in this tour…the organizers, participants, all from the Ta’leef Collective…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.