Alhamdulillah this summer is turning out to be very memorable and crazily busy – but a good busy. In the midst of it all, I’m trying to get a few pieces of art done for the Art Exhibit at the ISNA annual convention in Chicago over Labour Day weekend. (Anyone reading who’s going to be there please stop by and say salaams).

I’ve been going to ISNA since I was a young child and was really involved with MYNA on the organizational level in my teens, but each year I go to the annual convention, I feel like I come away with so much I never knew or experienced before. I especially enjoy the smaller workshops and discussion forums. It’s a great way to end a summer and begin a new work year.

I felt the same feeling this Saturday at MuslimFest here in Toronto. The most beautiful aspects about the whole event had to be the organization, punctuality, professionalism and dedication of the numerous volunteers. Although the culminating evening show with comedy from Baba Ali of Ummah Films, Preacher Moss, Aman Ali and spoken word poetry from Amir Sulaiman was definitely a highlight, I would have to mention the talent show earlier in the day with those from the greater Toronto area just beginning in the Muslim performance arts scene was on par. Omair Rahman, a 19 year-old comedian from Markham was a hit – as was rapper Mujahid LeGendre and, of course, the MC for the event, Hamza Moin of Maniac Muslim. The Arabic nasheeds by a very young group, Generation Muslim, were soul-touching as well.

Flipping to another topic, I’ve been really grateful this summer for the simple joys Allah has allowed me to experience in the last month and a half. Take cooking – which I only enjoy doing if there’s someone to enjoy eating it. And I mean enjoy eating it as in really mmmmm enjoy it – and then I cook with flourish. As my former was the enjoying type, with the unhitching, I didn’t feel that much joy in selecting the best cut of meat any more. This summer that all changed – I’ve been a hostessing like mad as I’m re-discovering there’s actually people to mmmmm it.

Yesterday evening, I had the best time hosting long-time friends for a “cultural” evening…and I got to thinking how Allah places the right people in our lives to enrich and beautify our journeys to Him. And it also doesn’t hurt if they’re a blast to hang around with (and to cook for).