Last weekend, LastProphet editor Dawud Helleman was in Konya for the Rihla. Some early reflections (interviews and thoughts to be posted later):
Konya is an ancient city, a history stretching back to the Byzantine city of Iconium and perhaps before to the nearby site of Catalhoyuk, an ancient human construction. Our teacher, professor Tim Winters (best known as Abdul-Hakim Murad) spoke of the two great conquests between East and West - the conquest by Alexander the Great of the Persian lands and Central Asia, and the Khulafa al-Rashidun(Rightly-Guided Caliphs) who brought Islam to Europe. Each time, the intersecting land was Anatolia...
So being here in this city, being reminded of the life of Mawlana Jalaluddin al-Rumi and his encounter with the intriguing Shamsuddin al-Tabrizi, the many Central Asian scholars who had taken refuge here from the ravages of the Mongol invasion... the saints and mystics, the theologians and jurists, all had conversations, debates and arguments in what was then a smaller city than we know now.
Over a weekend, LastProphet attended the Rihla sessions, sitting with scholars and absorbing knowledge. We were also able to record some brief interviews with the scholars, asking them about their perspectives on Sirah and Hadith studies, as well as their thoughts on the Rihla and Konya - these will be posted as they are transcribed, edited and prepared.
Present to teach were Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, the American-born scholar; Ustadh Abdul-Hakim Murad, an esteemed Cambridge professor of Islamic studies; Imam Afroz Ali, an Australian Hanafi scholar and co-founder of Seeker's Guidance; Ustadh Omar Qureshi, a Chicago-based Shafi'i jurist and scholar of spiritual purification; Shaykh Jamal Zahabi, a Lebanese scholar (who presently lives in Canada); Dr. Umar Faruq Abdullah, professor of Islamic studies and founder of the Nawawi Institute; Ustadh Feraidoon Mojaddedi, a scholar of the Masnawi; and numerous other scholars and teachers.
Classes covered the jurisprudence of finances, family law, legal jurisprudence for prayer, fasting and worship, spiritual purification, Ottoman literature, the Masnawi, and an introductory course on logic, applying reason to our understanding of the world.
Over 200 students from around the world attended this Rihla, the third in three years to be held in Turkey (2011's Rihla was held in Bursa, and last year, the Rihla was in Istanbul) - and several hundred more watched the Livestream video broadcasted from the classroom.
A warm sense of love and respect governed the gatherings, and all expressed gratitude at being in the city of scholars and saints.
LastProphet will have more to report from the 2013 Rihla soon.