Hussein Hamdani identified as a RIS “key organizer”
Author: Sharon Boase
Source: The Spectator / Hamilton, December 2, 2004, p. A7
Original title: Muslims will take time to reflect
More than 12,000 Muslims from across the GTA will spend Christmas contemplating Jesus, altruism and their Islamic roots.
Featuring an international line-up of top Islamic scholars and speakers, Reviving the Islamic Spirit is expected to be the largest Islamic conference in Canada.
The Dec. 24-26 event at Toronto’s SkyDome will be capped off by a fundraising dinner Dec. 27 featuring talks by three of North America’s leading Islamic intellectuals.
“We’re the first generation in Canada and we’re trying to formulate an identity as a community,” says Hussein Hamdani, a Hamilton lawyer and chief organizer of the dinner.
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf will address the role of Jesus in Islam at the conference on Christmas Day. Born and raised a Greek Orthodox, Yusuf converted to Islam as a teen. Last week, he lectured in London, England’s Globe Theatre on the relationship between the work of William Shakespeare and Islam.
Imam Zaid Shakir, an African-American and former political scientist, converted to Islam at 21. He will speak on the importance of Muslims joining with non-Muslims to work together on social justice issues.
Dr. Umar Abd-Allah will lecture on the importance of formulating a Muslim identity in the West. Lebanon-based Ustad Amr Khaled, described as the most popular personality in the Arabic-speaking world, will also address the conference.
Shakir and Yusuf are proponents of the traditional or spiritual approach to Islam, a movement which is gaining momentum in the hearts and minds of many young Muslims, says Hamdani.
Hamdani, who chairs the Ihya Foundation which also favours the traditional Islam movement, believes many Muslims are ready to move away from a materially oriented Islam in favour of a more spiritual approach to faith.
For the last 200 to 300 years, many Muslims focused on the external signs of faithfulness, such as eating halal meat, (meat from animals that have been slaughtered in the prescribed way according to the shariah) segregating the sexes at gatherings, women wearing hijab or men wearing long beards, says Hamdani. Yet for the first 1,200 years of Islam, the focus was on one’s inner spirituality.
“It’s no accident that the conference is called Reviving the Muslim Spirit,” Hamdani says. “Ihya also means ‘reviving.’ It’s part of a new movement that puts a higher emphasis on one’s relationship to the Creator and on cleansing one’s soul.
“The true Islam is deeply spiritual. There is nothing more important than your relationship with your creator and to show mercy and compassion because that’s the way the Prophet was.”
Conference fees are $35 for adults, $20 for a special children’s program (ages 4-11). For more information, visit www.revivingtheislamicspirit.com.
Tickets to the fundraising dinner are $50, $35 for students. It will be held at the Woodbine Banquet Hall, 30 Vice Regent Blvd. in Rexdale. For more information, visit www.ihyafoundation.com.
Photo: Ron Pozzer, the Hamilton Spectator / Hussein Hamdani, a Hamilton lawyer, is a key organizer of Reviving the Islamic Spirit, a three-day conference at Toronto’s SkyDome.