During my quest for knowledge, I stumbled upon Sheikh Imran Hosein’s lectures on youtube, many of which were from the ‘First International Islamic Retreat’ in 2009 in Trinidad. And when I finally came across his website late last year, I was happy to see that Sheikh Imran was having a second retreat in South Africa in March 2011, which I decided that I would definitely have to attend.
Though I had a bumpy ride on Qatar Airways both coming and going, going was quite horrible as I was stuck sleeping in the Cape Town airport for a day, that didnt take away from the joyous muslim village-type experience I was blessed to have received during my stay close to Simon’s Town in Gordon’s Youth Camp, thanks to the wonderful brothers and sister of the Islamic Network.
The SIIR campsite was far outside of Cape Town, which gave the secluded feeling of being away from technology, though i craved the internet, but the weeklong (March 21-28) retreat took me out of my regular routine, which would allow one to absorb all the knowledge available.
My primary reason of coming was to broaden my eyes about economics/finance from an Islamic perspective and was happy to learn that and more from the many other scholar’s that lectured us, in addition to being in the presence of my favourite discussion buddy, Fahri Hassen, and his wonderful wife, Shireen, my favourite midnight tea buddy. Just like the first days at school, you find yourself surrounded by people that you’ve just met and are keen to get to know, and just like graduation, you have to part from people that have become like family.
Favourite Lectures: With my new found enthusiasm for economics, Sheikh Imran’s lecture on “Riba” on day 4 was the ultimate treat, followed by Professor Tariq Khan’s lecture on ‘The Open Mithqal Standard’ about the gold Dinar and silver Dirham on day 3.
Answered Questions: Sheikh Imran stated that he believes money exchanges are haram as they are part of the haram monetary system that we are currently in, muslim housing incorporations that share ownership with you and then you pay rent in them until you own the house completely is halal, and that there isnt much difference between putting your money in a riba bank (giving you riba from the front door) and an islamic bank (giving you riba from the back door). Prof. Tariq Khan mentioned that gold to silver ratio at the time of the Prophet (SAW) was 1 to 10. Of course alot more knowledge was gained, but these were questions I specifically answered.
Friends: The two closest delegates I was drawn to were two first retreaters, Rasheed (united states) and Dion (france). I await for them to email me our farewell photograph together, but until then all I can say to them is “Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeef”. They nick-named me the ‘money man’ as I seemed quite knowledgeable when it came to economics and I was happy to share that knowledge with them and all the others who I got into discussions with. My bunk bed buddy was Abdul Malik (united states) and I passed on the most ‘sunnah money’ knowledge onto Ashraf (united kingdom). I’m thankful to all the brothers and sisters that I had the pleasure to meet, as this website wouldn’t have been completed as fast as it has been if not for them.
Favourite Meal: Lunch on the second day was for me the best meal that I couldn’t ever forget. It was sticky rice and daal (lentals), and though i’ve eaten rice and daal for years, as my wife is Indian, I have never tasted it in that way, and am still awaiting the recipe from Sister Shamunissa for it.
Funniest Moments: No doubt, Day 5 (Friday the 25th) had the most laughter in it. We were unfortunately not able to attend Sheikh Imran’s Friday khutbah in the masjid, so we had a Friday khutbah by Shaykh Julla from Zimbabwe in the tent, and we all were cracked up by his acting movements during his lecture. Just when we thought we had all the laughs that we could, a Turkish brother appeared that day out of the blue and during Fahri’s evening presentation on the link between Coca Cola and Israel, the Turkish brother attempted to present more evidence to the link and said that after hearing his points, that anyone of us who drink Coca Cola after that should die.
We lived together, ate together, prayed together, and played together, all experiences that I look forward to experiencing again in next years retreat in Malaysia or Brunei and at the muslim villages that are being setup in South Africa and Trinidad. Photographs of the retreat can be found on flickr and video lectures will soon be available on Sheikh Imran’s website.