All praise is due to Allah and may peace and blessings be upon our Noble Prophet, his family, and Companions altogether.

As for what follows:

2018 marks the eighteenth annual Reviving the Islamic Spirit (RIS) convention, which has become a mainstream event for Muslims in Toronto. This year’s convention, dubbed ‘RIS reimagined’, boasts an all new program, format, and speakers. However, how much has changed Islamically? Since its inception, the RIS convention has been the platform and voice for ‘liberal’ and Sufi Muslims. The speakers invited to the convention and the topics addressed all promote a modern brand of Islam. A modern brand of Islam which opposes the true teachings of Quran and the traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ). Just as the convention has been reimagined, it is necessary that it be reexamined. Is this a convention that Muslims should attend? Does the RIS convention truly revive the Islamic spirit? Or is it title with no substance.

Below are some of the objections to the RIS convention that Muslims should keep in mind. I write this as an advice for myself and my fellow Muslims in accordance to the statement of our Noble Prophet (ﷺ):

عَنْ تَمِيمٍ الدَّارِيِّ ‏- رضى الله عنه ‏- قَالَ: قَالَ ‏- صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏-{ اَلدِّينُ اَلنَّصِيحَةُ ” ثَلَاثًا.‏ قُلْنَا: لِمَنْ يَا رَسُولَ اَللَّهِ? قَالَ:” لِلَّهِ وَلِكِتَابِهِ وَلِرَسُولِهِ وَلِأَئِمَّةِ اَلْمُسْلِمِينَ وَعَامَّتِهِمْ

On the authority of Tamim ad-Dari (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:“The religion is advice.” The people said, ‘To whom, O Messenger of Allah?’ He replied, “To Allah, His Book, His Messenger (ﷺ), to the leaders of the Muslims, and to their common folk” [ Reported by Muslim (no. 55)]

RIS and the Sources of Knowledge

The RIS convention brings together speakers from different methodologies, sects, and denominations. This year alone, they have invited Maulana Tariq Jameel (a known member of Tablighi Jamaat), Hamza Yusuf (a Sufi), Mehdi Hassan (a Shi’ee), and others. On top of that, they have consistently invited non-Muslims to speak to Muslims about Islam! This practice opposes the methodology of the Pious Predecessors who only took knowledge from reliable, reputable scholars.

Muhammad bin Sireen (may Allah have mercy upon him), the illustrious Tabi’ee, said:

إِنَّ هَذَا الْعِلْمَ دِينٌ فَانْظُرُوا عَمَّنْ تَأْخُذُونَ دِينَكُمْ

“This Knowledge is Religion, so look from whom you take your Religion” [Reported by Muslim in his Introduction (no. 26) with a Saheeh chain of transmission]

Imam al-Munaawi (may Allah have mercy upon him) said in explanation of this statement: “And the intent is to take knowledge from the upright and trustworthy people, not other than them . . . whoever has in him a defect, then not taking (knowledge) from him is obligatory for the one who has an intellect”. [Fayd ul-Qadeer (6/383-34)]

So, the Muslims should take knowledge from upright and trustworthy scholars from Ahlus-Sunnah. He/she should avoid sitting and taking any knowledge from the people of innovations, such as the Sufis, the Shi’a, Tablighis, disbelievers.

It is important to remember that the Prophet (ﷺ) said:

‏ نَعَمْ، دُعَاةٌ عَلَى أَبْوَابِ جَهَنَّمَ، مَنْ أَجَابَهُمْ إِلَيْهَا قَذَفُوهُ فِيهَا

Yes, (there will be) some people calling to the gates of the Hell Fire. Whoever responds to their call will be thrown by them into the (Hell) Fire [Reported by al-Bukhari (no. 7084)]

Shaikh Ibn ul-‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy upon him) said: “. . . It includes every caller to misguidance and innovation in accordance to what he has of innovation. It includes everyone who calls to fitnah, such as revolting against the rulers, gathering the people for that, and what resembles that” [Sharh Saheeh al-Bukhari (9/507)]

And Ibn Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “Do not sit with the people of desires [people of innovation], for verily sitting with them is sickness to the hearts” [Reported in Kitabus-Shariah of Imam Aajurri ( no. 129) with a Saheeh chain and others]

The speakers of RIS are not reliable and knowledge should not be taken from them. Speakers like Zaid Shakir, one of the longest standing speakers at the convention, who said: “This year, 2015, this Christmas season is also the season where as Muslims we’re celebrating … the birth of Jesus and the birth of Muhammad… I think the message of Christmas, the message of peace – that’s the message of Islam”! [Reference]

Clearly such speakers and convention should be avoided.

Faisal bin Abdul Qaadir bin Hassan
Abu Sulaymaan