What can I say about Western Sunrise? Alhamdulillah the sun truly shone on Qabeelat AlShams when we were blessed with this seminar, and moreover with Shaykh Abdullah Hakim Quick delivering it! As a regular attendee of AlMaghrib courses, naturally I signed up to this one too, plus it's not everyday Shaykh Abdullah comes to the UK so it would have been a monumental folly to let this seminar slide!
When I signed up I was more excited about the content of the first weekend - Islamic history of Africa and Andalus. Learning about the Murabitun of North Africa as they revived the deen, and Islamic civilisation in it's Golden Age in Al-Andalus can only revive that sense of 'izza within yourself! Though I was looking forward to learning about history of Islam in the America's, I couldn't really connect with it as I had no idea what to expect nor do I have any ties with America. But the second weekend came and subhanAllah it blew me away. History was well and truly deconstructed! Learning about the presence of Muslims in early America, and that a number of slaves from the slave trade era were not only Muslims, but fully fledged scholars! It was truly an eye opening experience - they don't teach you this kinda stuff in history class!
Each AlMaghrib seminar has it's own 'vibe' and personal lessons to extract but Western Sunrise was a unique experience hence it had a whole vibe of it's own! The course content was fresh, all too often we as Muslims don't study our history in depth, and when we do, we sometimes tend to get stuck in the past rather than living in the present. It wasn't just a delivery of historical facts, but rather Shaykh Abdullah would challenge us to reflect, and extract lessons that we can apply in our lives today by seeing where those before us went wrong, and what they did right.
Another thing that stood out was Shaykh Abdullah's use of various mediums for teaching purposes which brought the 'ilm to life. After connecting what we had just learnt with the photographs and documentaries, it really helps to cement it as you have a mental image. After taking this course, I intend to travel to Timbuktu, this powerhouse of 'ilm in sha Allah, I pray Allah enables me to go.
Also on a side note I loved how our Q&A sessions were called a "town hall meeting" ma sha Allah! Is this an American thing?
Overall, this course is enlightening - as if you were viewing world history wearing glasses that haven't been cleaned for years then Shaykh Abdullah comes along and cleans those lens up for you. Result = a new perspective. Akin to stepping out of the 'Matrix'. On a personal level this course will revive your spirit of Islam and only increase your desire to learn more about Islamic history. On a community level, it makes one realise a paradigm shift is needed if we want to return to the days of 'izza. We need to see history from our perspective as well as others.
In the words of Shaykh Abdullah Hakim Quick himself:
"If you don't know your past, you will be confused about your present and won't be able to project yourself in the future."
(see I threw a gem in too )
In brief, this seminar was DEEP