The Allied Muslim Youth of North American (AMYNA – www.amynaonline.org) held its second RISE retreat at Camp Taha in Columbiaville, Michigan, this past weekend. Muslim activists came from Montreal, South Carolina, Detroit, Chicago, and New York with the common mindset of strengthening leadership qualities and networking with youths of other Muslim communities.
In a discussion with Jihad Hyjazie of Montreal, he mentioned his interest to meet other Muslim activists and hear about the projects other Muslim activists are involved in. The purpose of the RISE retreats was to strengthen the leadership qualities of young Muslims. Positive change in society is the result of strengthening the leadership qualities of young Muslim individuals.
Founded in 2002, AMYNA was the first networking platform for young Muslim activists in North America. The founders of AMYNA hoped that the organization would connect and educate young Muslims across North America through the sharing of resources, online communication, and yearly conferences. AMYNA redefined its mission in 2006, focusing more on stronger Muslim youth activism across North America.
This year’s RISE retreat included workshops on self-awareness and communication. AMYNA coordinators stressed the fact that they wanted young Muslims to participate in discussions during these workshops. Event coordinator Shakir Rizvi mentioned that if AMYNA wanted the RISE retreat to strictly be a seminar, they could have held the leadership retreat at a banquet hall, but that was not the case. Audience interaction led to discussions about how to handle certain situations such as being praised by an individual and how to handle negative feedback.
An integral part of the retreat was teamwork and spiritual gain. Teams consisted of a variation of leaders that included vocal leaders, mellow leaders, and listeners. The purpose of the exercise was to build the tallest structure in a fifteen minute span. In that time, the vocal leaders could not speak but could give direction via gestures. The listeners were blind-folded and were the only ones who were allowed to build the structure. Listeners were allowed to direct the blind-folded person verbally. The purpose of the activity was to encourage teamwork and effective communication.
Spiritual gain entailed going into the woods and having meditating sessions. The first meditating session lasted for three minutes and served the purpose of clearing one’s mind by listening to the sounds of nature. The second meditating session lasted for four minutes and that dealt with reflecting about Allah.
Besides the programs, activities also included swimming, canoeing, playing basketball and volleyball. A staple of the late night program was the bonfire discussions anchored by Shaikh Rizwan Arastu and Hajj Hassanain Rajabali.