Jul – Sep 2011: In the beginning…
A mere 3 months (12 weeks) ago, on the 7th of July, SeekersHub opened its doors for the first class – A commentary on the 40 Hadith on Reviving Religion. SeekersHub had long been an aim of the SeekersGuidance team, a physical base that would provide a home for the global Seekers family.
On his recent tour of Canada, Habib Umar bin Hafidh was told about the idea of SeekersHub Toronto. A place of learning, where all would be welcomed; regardless of their faith, knowledge or practice. The Hub gives all an opportunity to learn about Islam and to put their knowledge into practice by serving those around them. Habib praised the idea, calling it the Shining Light (al Siraj al Munir) and made abundant prayers for it’s success. He also told Shaykh Faraz it should be opened by the coming Ramadan.
Truth be told, none of us thought this was possible.
As Habib continued his tour of the world, stopping in England, Australia and the middle East, he repeatedly told of the Shining Light in Toronto, telling many to be linked to it, or learn from it.
Certainly every time I heard Habib had mentioned the Hub, it filled me with awe and (just a little) terror. Such big expectations, such little time.
As we began trying to bring the idea of the Hub into reality, forming relationships, seeking advice, building teams, the Hub took on a life of its own – and became an exercise in tawakkul – complete trust in God.
5 weeks before our projected date (August 1st), and the day before Shaykh Yahya Rhodus was due to visit Toronto, we found a humble but beautiful centre in Mississauga. Two weeks later we had signed the lease, completed the cleaning and begun teaching our first class. In the meantime, Dr. Umar Abd-Allah, who had been a constant source of advice and guidance for the Hub idea, told us he wanted to visit; to see the Hub as it was.
And so, amidst weekly classes, frantic meetings and outreach to get the word out, the (formal) launch date of July 21st was set. 10 days before the Ramadan opening that had looked so dauntingly impossible just weeks before.
Prayers of the giants and openings from God.
The Hub launched with a gathering to celebrate the Prophet (peace be upon him) with Dr. Umar Abd-Allah and esteemed local scholars such as Shaykh Zahir Bacchus, Shaykh Ramzy Ajem, Sidi Nazim Baksh and Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, to name but a few. Three days before the mawlid, Habib Umar was asked to record a few words of guidance for the Hub. We were honoured to receive duas, guidance and support.
Before we knew it, Ramadan was upon us. Soon daily classes on the Qur’an, nightly Tarawîh congregational prayers and regular sessions of remembrance were complimented with pot luck iftars (breaking of fasts). The Hub became a place to meet, greet and create family ties as well as benefit from abundant spiritual benefit and Prophetic knowledge. The blessings of Ramadan were unmistakable as the local and global Hub family kept growing.
Through out Ramadan the Hub family was increasingly concerned with the East African crisis appeal. We decided to host a fundraising iftar, to raise money for Islamic Relief’s efforts in Somalia. With barely 30 minutes of fundraising the Hub family raised over $20,000 in donations and pledges. Match-funded by the Canadian government this gave rise to just over $40,000 of donations for our brothers and sisters in Somalia and the surrounding areas.
At the start of the last 10 days of Ramadan SeekersHub hosted an online SeekersGuidance webinar, attended by over 130 people globally, and just short of 100 locally. Imam Afroz Ali sent a video of support from Australia and Sidi Abdul-Rehman Malik gave a live talk from London, England. On the 28th of August, SeekersHub Toronto hosted the SeekersGuidance Global Fundraiser and Prayer for the Oppressed, following an assault on Shaykh Usama al-Rifa’i in Syria.
In September, we began to settle into a calmer routine, still just as packed but a little less frantic. And then Shaykh Yahya Rhodus called. The SeekersHub volunteer team came together in the best spirit of those serving their faith, and in 10 days put together and delivered a 4 day program – New Beginnings: Walking the Way of the Prophet. The program touched many people and changed many lives. Amongst those commenting, just a few include Syeda Sara who said: Thank you for hosting such a beautiful, knowledgeable and well organized event. Sidi Imad Kamal said: The programs these past days were absolutely fantastic! Blessings innumerable. Christina Rountree said: I miss the Hub already Thank you for all of your beautiful smiles!
On October 8th, 3 months to the day after the Hub opened its doors for the first time, we launched the 2011 Fall Program – completely FREE classes almost every evening and throughout the weekend. Suitable for students at all levels, from beginners to advanced. Our teachers and guides Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, Ustadha Shireen Ahmed, Imam Zaid Shakir, Shaykh Yahya Rhodus, Ustadha Fatima Ahmed, Sidi Mohammed Assagaf and Sidi Nader Khan cover topics such as Qur’anic Commentary, Prophetic Guidance, Worship, Classes for Seekers of Knowledge, Spirituality & Remembrance.
Having reflected on the last 3 months, I sit back with a cup of (arguably) the best coffee in the GTA, and can’t wait to see how the next 3 months unfold….
Toronto, September 2011
Read up on the whole story:
• Episode 1 — In the beginning…
• Episode 2 — Meet The Team…
• Episode 3 — … (coming soon)