The Rhoda Institute of Islamic Spiritual Learning is a sacred safe space where all are welcome: women, men, youth, children, converts, the questioner, the seeker, and the un-mosqued.
The Rhoda was given its name by our Spiritual Guide and Elder, Habib Umar bin Hafeez, who is a descendent of the Noble Prophet ﷺ.
In the Bible, Rhoda is the name of a pious young woman who lived in the house of Mary, the Mother of John Mark. When Peter the Apostle is released from prison, he comes to the house of Mary where believers are praying for his release. Rhoda goes to answer the door. She is overwhelmed with gratitude to God when she hears Peter’s voice, and rushes to tell the others that their prayers have been answered. She is so ecstatic and focused on God that she actually forgets to open the door to let Peter in. The believers who are praying don’t believe her, and even call her crazy, until they finally see Peter. Rhoda is a celebrant of God’s Generosity in answering the call of His servants.
In Greek and Latin, ‘rhoda’ means rose, and this word has come into the Arabic in which it means rose garden. “Rhoda” is the name of the spiritual Rose Garden that is the resting place of the physical aspect of the Messenger of God ﷺ – his blessed grave in Madinah.
The Last Prophet of God ﷺ used the word ‘rhoda’ to describe gatherings in which God is praised and glorified, asking us to graze in such gardens of Paradise.
The Rhoda Institute is a garden of learning about the glory of God and how to discover the peace He has promised us. Through classes, study circles and workshops, you can learn about the heritage of the Last Prophet of God ﷺ, a heritage that carries in it the teachings of all the Prophets of God from Prophet Adam to Prophet Moses, Prophet Noah and Prophet Jesus – may God’s peace continue to nourish their beings and our connect to them.
The Rhoda is inspired by the eminent Dar al Mustafa Institute founded by Habib Umar in Tarim, Yemen but speaks to the unique needs of our local community: western, North American, Canadian, Ottawan.
Our mission is to:
1. Teach the sciences of the Sacred Way (Sharia): the heritage of the Prophet ﷺ, handed down to us over centuries through a chain of scholars. Learning takes place through practical experience and instructional methods including both the traditional and the modern. Teachings take into consideration our current realities, in order to make possible a wise implementation of the Sacred Way in our practical day-to-day.
2. Provide opportunities for the learner to uplift and refine herself through sincere dedication, purification of the heart, development of moral character and the art of noble relationships, all within the supportive fellowship of community.
3. Develop in the learner the capacity and passion to offer service and spread goodness in the widest-possible, most all-embracing manner.
Towards these goals, the Rhoda offers a variety of activities:
courses, learning circles, spiritual retreats, visits by scholars and spiritual teachers from around the world.
In all the learning activities we offer, our focus is not simply on imparting information, but enabling transformation. Below are some of our activities that aim to be transformative:
To nurture the soul and uplift the individual, we have a weekly meditation and prayer gathering every Saturday evening. This gathering fosters a sense of community that spans generations, in a manner that is true to our Prophetic heritage. It was in such traditional gatherings that our ancestors learned and vibrantly lived their Islam, and this is the most viable means to ensure generations to come will do the same. The Prophetic character of our grandparents was forged in the mould of such gatherings, and we witness their enduring benefit.
Spiritual and Knowledge Retreats
Several times a year, the Rhoda Institute hosts spiritual retreats. These retreats, typically with a duration of three days to a week, are important times for rejuvenation of the soul. Our participants gather from far and wide and come out of the experience with rich bonds of sister and brotherhood.
We also organize day-long knowledge retreats that provide immersion into a particular topic such as the daily prayer, or a particular book of knowledge. Our teachers are open to suggestions from you and to offering a knowledge retreat in your chosen setting for a particular audience or need.
Our Teachers, many of whom are also chaplains, offer spiritual counsel and answer personal questions pertaining to faith. We welcome all questions even those that are hard to ask.
Shaykh Hamdi is available to offer counsel that helps you put into practice the principles of spiritual beauty, overcome personal obstacles, and gain insight into your unique life purpose.
The classical expression of the Prophetic legacy we seek to share is not monolithic or puritanical, nor does it claim exclusive ownership to the entire Truth. Rather, it embraces the diversity of human experiences and cultures, celebrates the good in each one, and offers the human being the opportunity to become more mindful of God, kinder to others, and nobler throughout his actions.
Our way of teaching is an alternative to the reductionist approach that has dominated much of the way Islam has been taught in recent history, with its exclusive focus on outward signs of piety, and its tendencies towards either rational or emotional extremes. We join the efforts of all those working today towards a renaissance of the spiritual soul of Islam.
The Rhoda Institute works in close collaboration with its sister organization, SeekersHub, based in Toronto. We are honoured to host and participate in SeekersHub programming.
ZIDNI ILMA SCHOOL OF CHARACTER
Part of the Rhoda Institute’s mission is to cultivate the noble expression of love of God in the generations of the future. Zidni Ilma School is a unique program that provides weekend Islamic instruction for youth. Our focus is on mentoring our students towards an understanding of God’s Word and supporting them in living its guidance in their daily lives. Click here to read more about Zidni Ilma School.
MEDITATION, PRAYER & CONTEMPLATION
The Rhoda Institute is a place of prayer. Between learning activities, the Rhoda Institute’s doors remain open to anyone seeking a peaceful and calm space for prayer, reflection and meditation. Our chaplains also have office hours for private counselling and consultation. All are welcome!
BRINGING THE VISION TO CAMPUS: THE PICKTHALL INSTITUTE
The Pickthall Institute functions as a satellite of the Rhoda Institute in order to offer programming for students on campus. The Pickthall Institute has a unique emphasis on continuing the work of the pioneers of Islam in the West, amongst them its namesake: Muhammad Marmaduke Pickthall. These scholars serve as important bridges between western culture and the Islamic spirit. Through their personal example and scholarship they demonstrate how the universal message of the Prophet ﷺ can bring fresh life to the West, enabling fulfillment of its highest ideals.
University is a time when people search for meaning and seek to discover their purpose. It’s very important to take advantage of this opportunity, advises Dr. Umar Faruq Abdallah.
It is also a time when people struggle with their identity and reconciling their academic learning with their religious understanding. Western pioneers of Islam model a way to reach a holistic union of the modern intellect with the ancient spiritual traditions, avoiding rejection and extremism.
The Pickthall Institute organizes scholarly events that communicate the Islamic tradition in a way accessible to Western audiences. The first satellite has been established at the University of Ottawa, with more to come at other universities across Canada in sha Allah.