Of course, we are spoiled.
AlMaghrib spoils us by having the instructors travel to us, in order to teach us so that we may benefit when rather it should us students traveling to them. In sha Allah, one day we will have an Islamic university here in North America, where we can travel and reside for a number of years and learn and benefit from our instructors. Bayyinah Institute is working an Arabic immersion dream, Al Huda Institute is focused on Quran, Zaytuna has a dream like the one AlMaghrib has to teach a university-level curriculum leading to a degree in a single location.
Those of us who were fortunate to attend Ilm Summit, enjoyed four-star accommodation, three well-planned and solid meals with plenty of drinks, healthy snacks, and desserts each day, our classroom was within our hotel, and our schedule began with early morning fajr salaah and continued until 10-10:30 for isha and for many of us well into the night so that we could review and study the material.
During the last week, it was rare for me to sleep before 3am and of course I was back up by 5:30-6am to start the day. Alhamdulillah, our lunch breaks were from 1pm-3:30pm so I could catch a few zzzs to feel refreshed for the rest of the day. But the schedule was too intense for some of our companions and some skipped the 6am after-fajr tajweed class and other classes and breakfast in order to sleep.
Many of us who were awake, ate our breakfast quickly so that we could stake out and reserve our seats in the front rows closest to the instructor for the day. I was almost always in the front row, I like to be close to the instructor, to learn from his manners and to focus by minimizing distractions from the people behind me. Shaykh Yaser Birjas (hafidhullah) told us that when he was a student in Madinah, he and other students would gather in the Masjid an Nabawee with all of their books and papers from Asr time until after the taraweeh just so they could be close to Ibn Uthaymeen (rahimullah) for his post-taraweeh talks and question and answer session, which makes our gathering 45 minutes to an hour before the start of the morning session look meager.
Shaykh Yaser Birjas (hafidhullah) reflected upon his summers spent in Unayzah with Ibn Uthaymeen (rahimullah). He said, in his first year in Madinah, he asked some of the older students if he should accompany Ibn Uthaymeen to his summer retreat in Unayzah and they dissuaded him and until today, more than 15 years later, he still regrets heeding their advice. He made sure to go his second year and every year after that until he graduated from Madinah university.
The first year, Shaykh Yaser traveled light and went with a group believing that they would be well-cared for within the dormitory that housed other students but when they arrived the shaykh in charge told them that they would have to sleep in the masjid although they would be allowed to eat and shower in the dormitory. The students were not prepared for that reality nor the extreme heat of the summer nor the numerous bugs that feasted on their flesh while they slept in the masjid.
This seems to have been a natural weeding out and selection process, students that were not focused and determined would have given up at this first major hurdle. Continue reading