The 5th Ma’rifa conference was held this past weekend (February 16-18, 2024) in Philadelphia, PA. Sayyid M.B. Kashmiri was invited as the keynote speaker. In his remarks, Sayyid Kashmiri highlighted the importance of the duality between spirituality and knowledge from the true sources; Ahl al-Bayt (pbut), The Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp), and Almighty God; to enhance ourselves “Under One Sun”. 

He noted that as activists and motivated higher education students who look toward a bright future and wait for Imam Mahdi’s (p) justice and peace, it is mandatory to collaborate between professionals and experts to take the Blueprint for the Shia Muslim Community of North America to a practical level so that our new generations continue the effort.  

After highlighting the role of youth in history according to the Holy Quran and noting the advanced role of youth today, Sayyid urged all to come out from the Ma’rifa conference with something new, creative, and different, otherwise the event would be nothing more than a copy of many other activities seen around. He reminded the attendees of their responsibilities and their key role since Almighty God blessed them with many blessings, including religious authority, senior experts, and opportunities. 

Closing: The Past and the Future – Lessons and Planning 

After three days of tireless efforts, learning new experiences, and living in a joyful youth environment, the Marifa conference successfully ended its 5th conference. The last session ended with an open discussion with honorable scholars Sayyid M.B. Kashmiri and Dr. Shaykh Mehdi Hazari. The discussion was about the history of Shia Muslim communities and the possibilities for our future. The moderator, Azeezah Hasan, led the session addressing a variety of questions about the role of scholars in the community between modernity and traditions, the youth’s role at traditional Islamic centers, and the possibilities of strengthening in fields such as literature, artwork, and other forms of cultural expressions. 

Shaykh Hazari and Sayyid Kashmiri answered questions focusing on understanding history to learn from experiences moving forward, and not to merely remain stuck in the past. They emphasized the blessings that Almighty God granted to youth in the form of opportunities and that they should invest in them noting that our youth today are our future tomorrow. They also noted that cultural issues and limitations of the older generations should not be an excuse for youth to stop attending centers or feeling pushed away. Knowledge, skills, networking, hard work, having a clear vision and mission, following the advice, directions and instructions that come from our religious authority, all of this can put youth ahead.

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