Over this past Winter Vacation in December 2022, we at Al Manarat Islamic Schools in Mississauga, had the opportunity to organize our second annual Winter Ilm Nourishment (WIN) Retreat, and with the grace of Almighty Allah (SWT) it turned out to be one of the most enlightening and enriching experience for the participants. About 100 attendees (children and their parents) registered and attended this 3-days’ workshop that was strategically titled: In the Company of the Beloved ﷺ.
If you’ve had the opportunity to read our previous blog on the Beauty Revolution 2022, you’d have learnt that, for the Academic Year 2022-23 Al Manarat Islamic Schools are hyper focused on teaching, learning, and implementing the Seerah of the Prophet ﷺ in everything that we do throughout the year. We intend to drive home this undeniable concept that without genuine love, respect, and devotion to learning about the Prophet’s ﷺ life, we are unable to fully establish our place in his ummah and are unable to lead our lives as exemplary Muslims, promoting virtuous deeds and preventing evil ones.
In the Company of the Beloved ﷺ was organized as a 3-day retreat that brought our attendees along on a virtual travel journey back to the time of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. It was meant to thoughtfully immerse our attendees into learning the sacred knowledge around three major themes in the life of the Prophet ﷺ viz. the prophetic revelation, the prophetic interactions, and the prophetic character. Each theme was intriguingly explored alongside our attendees by some of our best teachers at Al Manarat, who are also highly knowledgeable in this sphere. They utilized relevant excerpts from both the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ respectively, to ensure the attendees benefitted extensively from these 3-days on-site study and also had appropriate material to bring back home to continue this exploration in their own-time.
One of the primary goals of this 3-day winter break retreat was to genuinely imagine ourselves alive during the early 600s AD, in the heart of the Arabian desert and experience the miracle of living alongside the man who the Holy Quran refers to as the ‘mercy to our entire world’ ﷺ. In the books of Al Shama’il (the prophetic character) it is beautifully narrated by Ali Ibn Abi Talib (R.A.), that “any person who saw him would inevitably be filled with awe! Anyone who would come in close contact with him, and knew his excellent character, was smitten with love for his excellent attributes. Anyone who described his ﷺ’s noble features could only say: I have not seen anyone like the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, neither before nor after him!”.
In covering the first chosen theme of the prophetic revelation, pondering over the science of the revelations received by the Prophet ﷺ over two decades allowed us to garner a deep sense of admiration as well as a basic understanding of the Prophet ﷺ’s exceptional mental fortitude and his unwavering dedication to the cause. It clearly enlightened us to the well-established fact that both the Holy Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ go hand-in-hand when it comes to truly understanding and implementing the tenets of Islam.
In the second theme of the retreat: the prophetic interaction; the teachers walked the attendees through a myriad of situations from the life of the Prophet ﷺ where he was observed interacting with his close companions, his wives, his relatives, his enemies, extremely intelligent and mentally challenged people, young children and teenagers, and others he knew, and he didn’t. There was always a sense of generosity and compassion in his demeanor that was simply unheard-of, a sense of sacred purpose, wisdom, and truth, and he always carried immense amounts of concern through bountiful mercy for his followers as well as the disbelievers of the time. It is through these interactions of the Prophet ﷺ that we learnt about his immense generosity and the remarkable effect he had on the people who were blessed to have interacted with him. It is also through these explorations that we learn about how he was extremely forgiving and forbearing, even with some of the worst people of the time, as seen through his conquest of Makkah.
Finally, in the third theme: the prophetic character, we touched upon the characteristic traits that made him truly unique and unlike anyone else to have walked this earth. Everything about his ﷺ’s blessed appearance was purely magnificent and ever awe-inspiring. From his specific height to his wavy hair; from his beautiful face to his broad physique; his companions have described his physical appearance in great details and never failed to talk about his majestic aura. Allah SWT created in him ﷺ a masterpiece such that all of humanity could relate with him as being generally one of them, and yet he was so purposefully unique in his existence that no one could match up to his blessed appearance and character.
Having covered those powerful topics throughout the 3-days of the retreat, it was no surprise then that the Q&A sessions at the end of each day were buzzing with participation and lasted far longer than the stipulated hours. The attendees were invited to ask questions anonymously, pertaining to either what was learnt during the sessions, or on anything else in general about Islam that they felt worth asking about. A large portion of the credit for this successful event can be attributed to our high schoolers. They heavily invested their time and effort in organizing the entire 3-days event over their winter break, nonetheless. Amongst several other tasks, they also created the marketing flyers, the course books, and other necessary documents, ushered the attendees in and out of the school premises each day and supported them through meals and prayer times. They showed applaudable leadership skills and devotion, that led to the creation of an exceptional learning environment for all 3 days and wholesomely benefitted all the attendees.