Reviving the Islamic Spirit conference returns to Toronto

Thousands of Muslims converge on downtown Toronto for three days of talks, entertainment and prayer at the annual Reviving the Islamic Spirit conference, which this year features prominent cleric Sheik Abdallah Bin Bayyah.
Thousands of Muslims converge on downtown Toronto for the annual Reviving the Islamic Spirit conference. 1:48

Thousands of Muslims will converge on downtown Toronto this weekend for three days of talks, entertainment and prayer at Reviving the Islamic Spirit. 

The annual conference is the largest of its kind in North America and a tradition for Toronto's Muslim community. It brings together speakers from around the globe which, this year, include Sheik Abdallah Bin Bayyah. The prominent cleric recently spoke out against violent extremism and ISIS, drawing praise from U.S. President Barack Obama. 

During his on-stage religious and theological conversation, Bin Bayyah spoke about radicalization, ISIS and denounced the recent attack in Ottawa by Michael Zehaf-Bibeau.

Conference organizer Summayah Poonah says she's not afraid to tackle tough subjects.

"Radicalization would certainly be a hot topic within the community and drives a lot of the discourse that happening, whether it be what happened with the fallen soldiers in Quebec or Ottawa," she told CBC News. 

"I think it's our duty and our obligation as a community to really tackle these issues head on and in a real way, discussing them overtly."

British musician Sami Yusuf and U.S spoken word artist Amir Suleiman are among the performers scheduled for the entertainment segment on Saturday night.

Organizers expect some 20,000 people to attend. The conference also includes a marketplace with merchandise including fun greeting cards and T-shirts. Reviving the Islamic Spirit runs until Sunday. 

With files from Neil Herland

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