This is part one of a two-part series reviewing the Reviving the Islamic Spirit Convention. Stay tuned tomorrow for part two!
This year’s Reviving the Islamic Spirit (RIS) Convention was held in Toronto from December 25-27, 2009. Those of you who have been reading MMW for a while might remember my reflections on it last year (in which I praised the conference, but lamented the very small number of female speakers), and my reflections on the joint RIS-ISNA Canada conference that happened last summer (in which–get this!–I praised the conference but lamented the very small number of female speakers.) This year’s convention was a significant improvement in many areas of the gender discussion, although there is still work to do.
Before I go further, I want to be clear that this is always a very impressive conference, with a lot of inspiring speakers from very well educated scholars. I always hear a big range of estimates of how many people attend, but I think this year’s attendance was around 15,000, which is pretty huge, and makes it a great way to meet other Muslims from here and abroad (including MMW‘s Safiyyah, who came all the way from South Africa!). A whole lot of people work hard every year to make this conference happen, and their effort is much appreciated. I’m saying this because I want to make a distinction between pointing out the flaws or areas for improvement versus giving a negative impression of it altogether. I loved the conference, and I’m glad I went, but none of this means that it can’t be pushed harder to include an even more representative roster of speakers.