Surely, those who believe, those who are Jewish, the Christians, and the converts; anyone who
(1) believes in GOD, and
(2) believes in the Last Day, and
(3) leads a righteous life, will receive their recompense from their Lord.
They have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.[2:62]
O you who believe,
you shall be steadfast,
you shall persevere,
you shall be united,
you shall observe GOD,
that you may succeed.[3:200]
The 23rd annual United Submitters International conference was held in Tucson, August 1-3, 2008. God provided lovely weather to match the joyous mood of the more than 250 attendees. It’s always so much fun to arrive at the hotel and see all the beautiful faces of submitters, smiling and hugging one another, rejoicing in another opportunity to be together in the worship of God alone. It was also exciting to see all the youths in attendance. Perhaps half of the submitters there were young folks (and of course, the rest of us are young at heart!).
Abdullah gave a wonderful khutba (sermon). With the Olympics coming up, he reminded us of how few athletes make it to the Olympics, and out of those few, only one in each event achieves the gold medal. A small number of winners, all the rest are losers. But in God’s incredible system, we can all be winners. We may cross the finish line at different times, but if we are righteous, God rewards us all.
In his khutba, he told a story which reminds us to be careful how we interact with others. We know that we have the true message, but if we are arrogant, the truth might be lost.
Once upon a time there was a shepherd looking after his sheep on the side of a deserted road. Suddenly, a brand new Jeep Cherokee screeches to a halt next to him. The driver - a young man dressed in an Armani suit, leather shoes, Gucci sunglasses, Rolex wrist-watch and a tie - gets out and asks the shepherd, “If I guess how many sheep you have, will you give me one of them?”
The shepherd looks at the young man, then looks at the grazing sheep and replies, “Okay.” The young man parks his car and connects his notebook to the Internet. He logs in to the NASA website, scans the ground using his GPS, opens a database and prints out a report on his portable printer. He turns to the shepherd and says, “You have 1586 sheep here.” The shepherd answers, “That's correct, you may have your sheep.'”
The young man takes his animal and puts it in the back of his Jeep. The shepherd looks at the young man and says, “If I guess your profession, will you return the animal to me?”
“Yes, why not.”
“You are a consultant.”
“That's amazing, how did you know?”
“Very simple,” answers the shepherd. “First, you come here without being called. Second, you charge me for something I already knew, and third, you don't understand anything about my business. Now can I have my dog back?”
Remember that patience and tolerance reflect a true strength of character and that the ugliest voice is the donkey’s voice. We should give God’s message to people without being arrogant and overbearing.
[16:125] You shall invite to the path of your Lord with wisdom and kind enlightenment, and debate with them in the best possible manner. Your Lord knows best who has strayed from His path, and He knows best who are the guided ones.
Abdullah then officially opened the conference (our Opening Ceremony) with a warm welcome to everyone who had come from near or far. He reminded us that we are like diamonds—rare, precious, and pure. Diamonds are hard and resistant to scratches. In fact, the only thing that can cut a diamond is another diamond. We must be careful not to cut each other. Tolerance and unity are important traits of believers.
We spent the rest of Friday getting to know one another with games from the Quran. We met many first time attendees and heard their stories of submission. We learned what various communities are doing to spread God’s word. And we enjoyed zikr and recitation before bed.
Saturday and Sunday were spent benefiting from wonderful speeches. We heard from submitters young and old, new and seasoned. The talks were informative and inspirational, giving us new insight into the math miracle, the messengers, and all the things around us. We have so much to be appreciative of and thankful for.
After the noon prayer and the photo session on Sunday, way more than 100 people went to Masjid Tucson for a pizza/Eegee’s party. We just weren’t ready to say goodbye yet. It’s always sad to deliver people to the airport for their trips home, but everyone leaves energized and strengthened for another year.
May God bless all the believing men and women, give us all health and happiness in the coming year, and allow us to join together in worship of Him alone next August.
[Ed.’s note: God willing we are hoping to hold the next year’s conference in Sacramento, California. We will provide more information as we have more details. Please join us by mail or email subscription and keep up with history in the making.]