It is 9:20 PM on Sunday evening and nearly everyone is gone. I have attended several conferences before, including Pearls of the Qur'an last year. But this year was different. You could feel the vibe in the air. There was a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood that was especially unique this year. Those who attended the full three days would understand what I am referring to.
There was a time before we entered into this realm when we were all in what is known as the world of atoms. The Beloved ﷺ tells us “the souls are gathered legionnaires, whichever amongst them recognizes the other gets closer, and whichever amongst them does not recognize the other will differ.” This Hadith has been said by the scholars to refer to the incident narrated in the Qur'an when God asked us, “Am I not your Lord?” and we replied, “Yes, we testify.” It was then that some of us actually met. This weekend was when we finally got to see each other again.
The “Pearls of the Quran 2015” conference was a testament to what is possible. It was a realization of a yearning many Muslims have but are increasingly becoming hopeless to see. To be united, loving towards each other, respectful of one another, and accepting of our differences. In form, it looked like a conference. But in function, it was much more intimate than that.
It was clear that the organizers were deliberate in putting into motion a vision of unity. I was asked what unity meant to me. Unity is not uniformity. It is for one to see their Muslim brother or sister who they have disagreements with, and recognize that despite our differences, we hold unconditional love towards one another. It is to rise above our own egos, purify our hearts, and remember we are still brothers and sisters united by the testament of la ilaha illa Allah.
Shaykh Mokhtar Maghraoui gave an analogy: “Water flows from above to below. If you want to obtain the water of knowledge and wisdom from others, you have to lower yourself to receive it.” If you view yourself as an equal, or worse yet as above others, you will never receive their water. At Pearls 2015, the speakers were not only coming to the conference hall to give their speeches. They came to listen and learn from others as well, including Shaykh Maghraoui who typically sat in the back rows. No one viewed him or herself as “too advanced” for any speech given. They were just searching for water.
It did not matter whether the attendees defined themselves as part of a movement or not, or whether they labeled themselves or not. Our souls were too busy feasting as they caught up with each other. After all, the last time we met was in the world of atoms, and so it has been a while. We were too elated from the meeting to care about labels. We were remembering how we all testified to la ilaha illa Allah, the greatest statement ever uttered. We were too busy sharing our love of God and love of His Beloved ﷺ to be concerned about what position each held on some issue dealing with a branch of theology.
Pearls 2015 showed what was possible, and identified the source of the problem of division and sectarianism. The general masses of Muslims are a direct reflection of the religious leadership. The effect of the love, companionship, and genuine happiness displayed by the speakers was immediately evident in the attendees. The beautiful thing about it is that no one felt they were compromising on positions of difference. Rather, everyone held their ego and check and remembered that none of this is about them. There was a higher purpose that we all were concerned about, and it showed.
May the love between us all flourish and our bonds grow stronger. I pray we take this spirit back to our communities and impart it on those around us. Pearls 2015 was a proof that this is not a utopian vision. We all felt and experienced it first hand. It all started with a conscious decision and intention from the organizers that this is about love, mercy, and ihsan. May we all do the same when we get home.
By Mohamed Ghilan , 08 Apr 2015