Last week I had the opportunity to travel to Manchester for the FOSIS conference which happened from Friday the 15th to Sunday the 17th of July. I wanted to do the recap last week but procrastination and a busy schedule meant I could only write the post today. For those who don’t know about FOSIS (Federation of Student Islamic Societies), it is a national umbrella organisation aimed at supporting and representing Islamic societies at colleges and universities in the United Kingdom and Ireland. They organise an annual summer conference which usually features prominent local and international scholars and members of Islamic societies from across the UK and Ireland. Last year in Nottingham was my first introduction to the FOSIS conferences and I had a great time so I was excited about attending this year’s conference themed ‘Pathway of the Prophet’ . This post is just going to be a brief recap of the three days with some reflections along the way.
Fun fact: FOSIS is the oldest Muslim student organisation in the United Kingdom and it was established 53 years ago in 1963.
The opening day started in the afternoon and featured scholars such as Sheikh Ahsan Hanif, Yahya Ibrahim and Abu Eesa who are tutors at Al Maghrib Institute. Unfortunately, I missed Sheikh Ahsan Hanif’s lecture and half of Sheikh Yahya Ibrahim’s one due to transportation issues. I travelled to Manchester by coach which took roughly five hours, so while it was cheaper in comparison to travelling by train I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. Alhamdulilah I did get to enjoy the view as we travelled and I had really great company (Friends + Cousins) so that made up for the long journey.
The part of the lectures that I did manage to catch were thought-provoking especially Sheikh Yahya Ibrahim’s speech which laid emphasis on Muslim students utilising the skills and talents that Allah SWT has blessed us with to benefit the Ummah. Below are the four questions that he posed to the audience which I think is really useful for all of us to reflect on.
What is your place in this world?
What can you do to bring people together on a model of compassion?
How will we touch other people’s lives?
What do you want Britain to look like in 20 years?
Without a doubt, Day 2 was the highlight of the conference for me! Unfortunately, Sheikh Shams Ad-Duha could not make it but the Seerah quiz that we did during that period was fun and informative. In line with the theme, one of the main takeaway from the conference for me was the need to improve my knowledge on the Seerah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad PBUH. Sheikh Yasir Qadhi has an extensive series on Youtube that I’m currently watching so if anyone is interested in building their knowledge of the Seerah, his youtube playlist is what you need.
It also was great to hear about the activities and achievements of different ISocs and I appreciated the variety of the workshops that were on. The new addition this year was the Annual Dinner which I absolutely loved. Malia Bhouattia (the newly elected Muslim NUS President) and Dr Hany El-Banna (founder of Islamic Relief) gave really moving speeches. I had never heard of the nasheed artists ‘Common Souls’ prior to the night but after their performance, I was a converted fan! If you haven’t heard of them make sure to search them up on Youtube. Luckily I got a CD of their EP and I’ll do a review of that soon In sha Allah. The challenge right now is to find a laptop that has a CD player.
The group has a unique sound and the nasheeds were beautifully composed and thought-provoking. It’s safe to say that the entire audience was moved by their tribute to the former president of FOSIS. Last year Bashir Osman who was the president of FOSIS at the time died in a swimming tragedy in Switzerland and we pray that Allah SWT accepts him to the highest of Jannah, Ameen.
The last part of the night on Day 2 was the FOSIS awards. The energy throughout that session was amazing! One of the strengths of the FOSIS conference is that it highlights and celebrates the achievements of different ISocs and outstanding individuals across the country. The atmosphere was one of inspiration and we were all each other’s cheerleaders. Here I have to give a quick shout out to the Daily Mail and other Islamophobic news outlet for creating controversies out of nothing because my uni’s ISoc won the award for Best SU engagement for dealing with the aftermaths of the media frenzy.
I had to leave the best for last and that was the session by Sufyan Ismail who is an award winning UK Entrepreneur and Philanthropist who is ranked amongst the 500 most influential Muslims in the World. Coincidentally he was a graduate of Manchester University where the conference was being held. His speech really spoke to me because I’m a point in my life where I’m actively seeking a career path and listening to him tell us about his journey from the financial and wealth management industry to the founding MEND (Muslim Engagement and Development), a specialist organisation that tackles Islamophobia really inspired me. There were so many gems from his speech and I remember typing on Snapchat that if I only listened to his speech then my FOSIS conference would have been worth it.
One of the best things to come out of this conference was the election of the first female president since the creation of FOSIS 53 years ago! Zara Mohammed is a sister who inspires me and I pray that Allah SWT grants her and the committee for the upcoming year success in their roles as well as barakah in their efforts, Ameen.
So that’s the end of my FOSIS recap and I genuinely had a great time reconnecting with familiar faces and meeting new sisters. I wish I could type out my notes from the conference but then I would be here forever so the best thing to do, is to advise you to attend next year’s one! To keep updated with the activities of FOSIS, you can follow them on Twitter, Facebook and Youtube.
Hope you enjoy this snippet video of Day 2.