Friday, July 8, 2011

48th Annual Isna convention

The 48th Annual ISNA Convention wrapped up this past Monday July 5th. ISNA would like to thank all of our volunteers for their hard work during convention and all of our speakers for their phenomenal trainings, insight, tools, and wisdom that they passed on to convention attendees. Whether you couldn't make it this year or missed out on some of the sessions, we have a taste of the convention topics for you below. You can also view photos of the convention here.

If you wonder why people choose to attend the Annual ISNA Convention, the top ten reasons can be found in the articles below. People attend the ISNA Convention to:
Islamophobia: Challenges and Solutions

Since September 11, 2001, Muslims in America have felt the pressure of Islamophobia. Events such as the Park 51 controversy in New York City and the Peter King hearings have recently brought out increased anti-Muslim sentiments throughout the United States. As a result, many Muslims feel more ostracized.

At this year's 48th Annual Convention, ISNA presented many sessions that examined examples of hateful behavior toward Muslims. Scholars and experts offered practical advice for Muslims in eradicating Islamophobia and intolerance from our society.
In a session entitled "Islamophobia: Opportunties, Challenges, and Responsibilities for Dawah," Yasir Qadhi, Islamic orator and author, reminded attendees that Islamophobia is not a recent phenomenon. He stated that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the first victim of Islamophobia, having felt confused and discouraged by the way the people that once loved him began treating him after he brought the message of Islam to Mecca. Qadhi explained that there were moments when the Prophet began to doubt himself and the message he was meant to spread. When this happened, God sent down Quranic verses to remind the Prophet that with every difficulty comes ease (Quran, 95: 6)... Read more.
For the Love of Knowledge: Books, Books, and More Books!

This Fourth of July weekend, ISNA attendees had the opportunity to meet and greet the authors of many well-known Islamic books, essays, and narratives. The meet the author program was split into four different sessions: children's book, social issues, scripture and tradition, and essays and narratives.
In the children's book session, parents and children enjoyed personally getting to know the authors of some of their favorite books. This session presented books to the audience, which have the potential to increase their children's knowledge in the subjects of Arabic language, Islamic History, and the life of the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh). The book, Sugar Comes from Arabic, takes a modern approach to teaching children how to read and write in Arabic. The author, Barbara Whitesides, uses English names and words to make it easier for children who already know English to learn Arabic. The book also helps children make a connection between words and their meanings through colorful illustrations.
The Social Issues session highlighted problems that often go unaddressed in our community: the climbing divorce rate and difficulties of parenting. When Muslim Marriage Fails, written by Suzy Ismail is a collection of 5 case studies of divorce. Ismail stated, "There is a high rate of divorce in our community, especially among the young adults and the elderly who no longer live with their children." One may ask, "What is the cause of such a rapid increase in the rate of divorce?" Ismail answered, "The values of love and compassion are often not used when we are dealing with one another!"... Read more.
ISNA Supports Arts as Means of Activism, Expression

The 48th Annual ISNA Convention featured live artists and several forms of artistic
talent in an effort to celebrate and promote artistic expression. The Muslim community is blessed to see a rise in the number of talented artists who are using their artistic expressions as a means of activism and representing the multiple voices within the Muslim American community. ISNA chose to showcase the work of these artists at the Annual Convention to emphasize its importance and growing prominence. The Convention included the Muslim Entertainment Night, parallel sessions related to the arts, as well as an art exhibition.
Muslim Entertainment Night provided an amazing celebration of the talents of many popular Muslim artists and groups including country singer Kareem Salama, hip hop group Native Deen, and song writer Najam Sheraz. The program also featured Muslim poets Mona Haydar and others, who shared their talent as a means of inspiring people to see Islam in a different light. Haydar's poetry captures the sentiments of spirituality in a way that makes the heart sink and the mind reflect... Read more.
Finding the One and Supporting Happy Marriages

A strong family is built upon a strong marriage. This theme ran throughout sessions at the 48th Annual ISNA Convention titled "Loving God, Loving Neighbor, Living in Harmony." The convention sessions included issues related to finding a spouse and maintaining a harmonious marriage.
In the session titled "Finding the One: An Honest Conversation," speakers Altaf Husain and moderator Sohaib Sultan, a Muslim chaplain at Princeton University, discussed the challenges faced by many young Muslims in finding a spouse. Husain, a professor at Howard University and seasoned matchmaker said that he is contacted almost every other week by someone needing help in finding a spouse. "We as a community need to do a better job of helping people get married" he said.
Traditionally, Husain said, a strong community-wide social network facilitated the spouse-search process, in which the masjid was the central gathering place for people. However, as this framework loosened due to various reasons, people started looking for external sources to help them find a spouse, such as newspapers and, more recently, matrimonial websites. He said that currently masjids are returning to the traditional model by developing programs to assist single Muslims in finding a spouse... Read more.
ISNA Community Service Luncheon Honors Long-time Activist Dr. Hisham Altalib

During its annual Community Service Recognition Luncheon (CSRL Banquet) at the 48th Annual Convention, ISNA honored a life-long activist within the North American Muslim community, Dr. Hisham Altalib. Dr. Altalib earned his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Purdue University in Lafayette, Indiana. While pursuing his career as an electrical engineer, he decided to become active by holding several positions in various Islamic organizations. He is currently the director of finance with the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT).
Among several other positions, Dr. Altalib was the first full-time director of the Leadership Training Department of the Muslims Students Association. He also served as the secretary general of the International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations. He has conducted many trainings and seminars in America and abroad. Dr. Altalib is also was also a founding member and director of the SAAR Foundation as well as founding member of IIIT. He has authored the books "Principled Approach to Dawa" (Arabic) and "A Code of Honor for Islamic Workers," which to date has been translated in over 20 languages... Read more.
Equipped to Change the World

"You are here to change the world; you are not here to be spectators!" Tariq Ramadan's voice resonated in a large roomful of convention attendees. In the light of recent events, Ramadan, along with several other speakers present at the convention, addressed the importance of activism in the local community. He indicated that the most important piece of equipment necessary for activism was Taqwa-God consciousness. Only when you know yourself and who you are, will you have the ability to affect the community.
In the session entitled Empowerment through Engagement: Creating a Wholesome Community, Ramadan placed an emphasis on stepping out of your comfort zone, so that you are no longer passive. "You have to be courageous independent believers. You cannot be powerful in the community if you are weak within yourself," he asserted. Farah Ahmed, student and regular attendee at the convention, remarked "I learned that there are different aspects of empowerment; it's not just about having a loud a voice. The lecture was very informative and it gave me motivation, especially in a time where Muslims' active involvement in the community is imperative"... Read more.
MYNA Tackle Place of Youth in America at Convention

"The foundation of every state is the education of its youth". A profound quote that touches upon the importance of focusing attention on the youth, it explains the ongoing popularity of MYNA, and the large amount of positive feedback it receives each year. Dynamic speakers, relevant topics, and energetic youth were the key ingredients to yet another successful MYNA conference, and all were in tune with this year's ISNA Convention theme - "Loving God, Loving Neighbor, Living in Harmony".
The first session, which took place on Friday, July 1st, was at first delayed, and then cancelled, due to the unavailability of the keynote speaker. However, dedicated MYNA members, all in their teen years, calmly and swiftly took hold of the situation, themselves speaking about their own reflections on MYNA and how the organization has impacted their lives. They discussed how they have become more motivated and dedicated to the Muslim community and explained how this dedication has helped them through challenges they face in their daily lives... Read more.
Convention Full of Trainings and Workshops

To build a stronger community, we must continue to improve upon many elements of our lives such as, health, leadership, and professional development on an individual level. The 48th annual ISNA convention provided attendees with several opportunities to grow in numerous areas of knowledge including: leadership development, chaplaincy, young professionals' networking, speaker's bureau trainings, health screenings, tips for Muslim lecturers, and much more.
At the Health Fair, Convention attendees benefitted from information on how to treat and prevent diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, and other common diseases facing our community. In addition, there were dental health screenings and a CPR training course. Participants in the sessions about healthcare said that they were thankful for the opportunity to gain such vital knowledge about common health conditions. Those who participated in free health screenings received a great value... Read more.
Lessons in Inclusion and Diversity

The world's population of more than a billion Muslims reflects a diverse group. This year's sessions at the 48th Annual ISNA Convention highlighted this diversity. Attendees enjoyed seminars on interfaith dialogue, intra-faith unity, women's leadership, including people with disabilities, and more.
Friday evening kicked off the Convention with a main session entitled, "Islam, Pluralism, and Social Harmon," which instructed participants on ways to approach living in a pluralistic society. Professor of International Affairs and Islamic studies at Georgetown, Dr. John Esposito, spoke about how the experiences of Muslim minorities make European and American Muslims more sensitive to the importance of equality and minority rights.
Dr. Esposito described how the Muslim community faces a lot of the same questions as the Jewish and Christian communities. Namely, he asked, "How do we think of ourselves but also recognize other faiths?" He shared a tradition of the Prophet Muhammad t in which the angel Gabriel exhorted him to be kind to his neighbors, so much so that he thought the angel might tell him to name them his heirs next. Dr. Esposito emphasized the importance of treating Christian, Jewish, and neighbors of other faiths kindly... Read more.
Government Outreach Focus of Convention
One of the key goals of ISNA is to encourage Muslims to be civically engaged and to fully exercise their rights and responsibilities as citizens. Thus, at this year's Convention, ISNA invited numerous political figures and dignitaries as a means of connecting member of the Muslim American community with decision makers. Attendees ranging from ages 20 to 50 crowded the sessions where public figures such as Congressman Keith Ellison, Sheriff Leroy D Baca, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, and Turkish Consulate Fatih Yildiz spoke.
However, political outreach went beyond just the formal programs. The Convention boasted numerous booths with information on employment, minority programs, grants, scholarships and internship opportunities. Many students took advantage of their chance to get information on how they can be involved. "I'm here to make connections, and learn about grant opportunities. I want to know how active these agencies are in interacting with Muslim Communities", said Khadija Muhammad, who works for Mayor Greg Ballard of Indiana. Khadija left convention having made connections with representatives from the Department of Homeland Security, US Department of Education, US Intelligence and several others... Read more.

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quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797


We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.

Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”

God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.

We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration ( held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.

Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.

As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.

We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.

We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.

We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.

Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.

Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.

We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.


Thank you.


The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.