Habib Ali arrived to Toronto on the evening of 20th December. The 11th annual RIS conference began on December 21st and Habib Ali gave his first address on the topic of “What we need is love, sweet love.” He spoke about the centrality of love in the faith of a Muslim and how the perfection of faith is to have love, elaborating on the hadith of the Prophet Muhammad in which he said, upon him be peace, “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.” Habib Ali explained how love is attained through knowledge of the beloved, and how love can be nurtured through the aide of the intellect, senses, and various acts of worship known to a Muslim, but how its origin lies deep within ourselves. Habib Ali concluded his address by emphasising the point that the expression of faith through love is not a weakness, as some Muslims have misunderstood it to be and who instead call for sternness and anger. He said that it is through the universal and unconditional love of good for all human beings, regardless of their religion, gender, and ethnicity, that the power of faith resonates.
Habib Ali addressed the 20,000 strong crowd attending the Revival of the Islamic Spirit conference on Sunday 23 December in his second and final lecture entitled “When the Prophet, peace be upon him, is Mocked.” He expanded upon the wider meaning of what insult and offence means, explaining that misrepresentation of the religion and behaviour that is in contradiction of the Prophetic example are more offensive to the Prophet than a cheap film could ever be. Habib Ali offered practical examples on how to respond to denigrative actions with wisdom and foresight and reminded the audience that we have a collective societal duty to ensure we never offend nor insult the Prophet to our own actions and behaviour.
Habib Ali began the annual retreat that follows the Reviving the Islamic Spirit convention with a daily lesson on Habib Umar bin Hafiz’s abridged version of the book “Condemnation of Status and Pride” from Imam al-Ghazali’s Ihya Ulum al-Din. Over 600 students were present, attending a continuous program of lessons from the early morning until the late evening. Habib Ali addressed the audience by linking the content of the book to the contemporary reality faced by many Muslims in the West, focusing especially on issues of spiritual growth in modern times and the role of Muslims in their society as carriers of a divine message. The retreat lasted six days and was concluded with a closing session in which the teachers offered final points of advice and guidance for the students