By Debra J. White –
Registration closed almost two days before the course started because so many people wanted to participate. At least enthusiastic 175 men, women and children ages 10 and older attended “Portrait of a Prophet – Arizona,” which was held April 28-30.
The course began at the Islamic Community Center (ICC) in Tempe on Friday evening after Magrib prayer with talks by Dr. Meraj Mohiuddin and Shaykhs Ubaydullah Evans and Hassan Lachheb about knowing and loving the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The course then shifted to the Arizona Cultural Academy (ACA) for two days of intense lectures and discussion about the life and teachings of the Prophet.
After a light breakfast on Saturday morning, participants such as Kristy Sabbah of Chandler were ready to get started. Sabbah attended with her four daughters. “I wanted them to feel the love for the Prophet. I also wanted to bring my own love for the Prophet and share it with others. Being with my daughters is a way to lead by example and for us to grow as a family,” said Sabbah.
The weekend’s topics included “Advice to Students: Putting the Text into Context,” “Gems from the Prophet’s Life” and “His Final Moments and Legacy.” Shaykh Lachheb presented 400 Hadiths with his own commentary from Imam Tirmidhi’s Shama’il al-Muhammadiyya. There were short musical performances, “Songs of Love for Him,” by Mouaz Al-Nass, on both days.
The course wrapped up on Sunday afternoon with final advice and dua. Shaykh Muslema Purmul lectured on Sunday. Shaykh Lachheb signed ijaz’s, traditional certificates of completion, for participants at the course closing.
Qur’an teacher and Chandler resident Naema Zaman attended with her four children. “It was such a spiritually and energizing event,” she said. “By the end of the day when Shaykh Hassan spoke about the passing of the Prophet, the entire room was weeping.” Zaman said she learned a lot of practical advice from Hassan and the course in general about living the prophetic way at home and in the community. “I am truly thankful to Allah for enabling me and my children to witness this event.”
During the course, Shaykh Evans encouraged participants to deepen their sense of love for the Prophet. “Emerge from here with a renewed sense of faith and purpose,” he said. That sentiment was echoed by Shaykh Lachheb who talked about the Prophet’s respect for all living beings. He encouraged the participants to be less materialistic and to be kind to Mother Earth. “Respect all people and look for the dignity in people, just as the Prophet would have,” he said.
The course sponsors included ACA, Maya Event Company, ICC, CAIR-Arizona, Islamic Relief and the Naqshbandiya Foundation for Islamic Education. Volunteers donated their time to check in guests, answer questions and direct guests. CelebrateMercy, the course organizer, also depended on volunteers who came from around the country to put the course together.
CelebrateMercy was founded four years ago by Philadelphia resident Tarek El-Messidi. The nonprofit aims to instill a deeper understanding and appreciation of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), his teachings, life and works. Also, the group works to dispel misinformation about Islam and the Prophet. For more information, visit www.celebratemercy.com