Wednesday, May 31, 2006

REVIEW: ICNA-MAS South Central Regional Conference


The event was nothing to brag about, but it was still a nice effort Mash’Allah. So, here’s a short review of the occasion that took place on 5-29-06 at University of Houston on a muggy yet cloudy day.


My brother and I hooked up with Chachoo around 9:30am and we headed towards UH to check out what this ICNA-MAS Conference was about. Unfortunately, the persons I initially wanted to attend this event for (Imam Siraj Wahaj, Chaplin Yusuf Yee, and Junaid Jamshed) were never confirmed, but were advertised more often than not until less than 2 weeks ago. I was a bit bummed upon finding out about this rather upsetting news and even debated on attending the conference… but you know how this story goes.


We arrived a little after the designated time of the beginning of the event, but since Desi’s ran the operation for the most part, I figured everything would be accustomed to DST, so I had no worries about missing Qari Hashim of Madrasah Islamiah doing Qirat. And surprisingly I was right, they ended up having some Mic probs, but once it was resolved the event began with a beautiful recitation by the Qari Mash’Allah. Then Br. Hanif Harris (President of ICNA South) gave a warmhearted welcome and explained the significance of Unity and of the Ummah working together with events such as this. Then came on Sh. Abdool Rahman Khan, who gave a basic talk on the Islamic Society. Sh. Yusuf Estes (whom I’d consider a Da’ee more than anything) talked next about “Muslim Buts” which was a pretty funny (had to be there kind of joke). After him Dr. Muhammad Yunus gave a talk about the responsibility of a Muslim, and this was nice as he brought up many beneficial verses from the Quran on the PowerPoint screen. After all this, it was break time, and that meant doughnuts, though mindlessly I’d eaten way more than I should’ve for one day, and that definitely didn’t help my stomach as the day proceeded.

On my journey back to the conference from the car with my bro, I observed something very uncomforting. As I made my way to the Main hall, I realized the plethora of Hijabis (the real deals and one dayers) everywhere. It was to the point where people were bumping into other people and walking through crowds of the opposite gender. Now, I understand the place was small, but the dividing of brothers and sisters inside the lecture hall seemed rather insignificant once you stepped outside or went to the bazaar. That was my biggest complaint about the whole event. It’s kind of like going to the mall, but rather than hoochie mamas, there were Hijabis on cells and so on everywhere. Anyhow, we got back to the lecture hall and the Ameer of ICNA was giving a talk on one of my favorite subjects, Tazkiyah. Though unfortunately, it was the worst speech I witnessed that day as far as presentation and content went. I’m not knockin’ on the Dr., but I’m just calling it as how I saw it. Houston’s Sh. Zoubair spoke next on a speech he claimed would be a realistic view of society and ways or rebuilding it. Compared to the other speakers there, the Sh. seemed to have a better grasp of keeping the crowd captivated while making various important points ranging from education to areas in which the Muslims need to be employed in other than the Engineering or Medical fields, heh.

The next segment was a real interesting one as well, and it contained a panel of reverts along with some of the Shayouk/Leaders present at the event. The topic revolved around ethnic issues that reverts encounter during their acceptance of Islam. Brother Isa Galloway (of CAIR) and Mujahad talked real well on these topics Mash’Allah. It was real interesting to catch a glimpse of how they saw things when trying to figure out where and who to take Islam from, since they were starting off with a clean slate. One of the concerns seemed to be that of the community neglecting brothers or sisters who revert after they take their Shahadas, as well as the cultural divide when someone of a completely different background enters the picture and sees people of the same ethnicity clinging together. I can’t say I agreed with some things that were said about the Islam vs Culture topic, but I will say that culture is only second to ISLAM. The Shayouk/Leaders didn’t mention anything worthwhile other than that they do try to focus on these issues, along with mentioning how they felt awful that these individuals go through this, etc. However, the most intriguing point from the talk that I can recall was made from Brother Isa, when he mentioned how in public talks to non-Muslims, we tend to find a poster boy of some sort who will ultimately be similar in looks/background to the other party. Basically he summed it up and said we need people who speak proper English from a different variety of groups (that exist within the Islamic communities) to represent, and that we shouldn’t be timid of having the brother with the big beard talk about Islam, because that’s the person who the media is labeling as a terrorist or extreme in the first place, Subhan’Allah.

The next set of lectures consisted of one of the few (or only) speakers whom I was interested to hear, Dr. Yusuf Kavacki from Dallas. He spoke after Sh. Abdool Rahman Khan’s talk about the Sahhabas, and Ridwan Saleh (ISGH President), whom talked about the importance of building and maintaining Masajids. I noticed Dr. Kavacki went off a tangent in his love for the Prophet (saw) talk, due to some concerns of his I presume. In my opinion, I believe what happened was that during the lectures the Dr. heard people using the infamous “Quran and Sunnah” phrase, and he felt the need to attach a little more to that by mentioning the importance of properly understanding Fiqh and following Quran and Sunnah according to the Fuqaha, and he tried to tie that into the love speech by saying it is through these writings of the Fuqaha that we understand how to love the Prophet (saw). Something else I got from him was that a problem with Masjids (from Ridwan Saleh’s talk) is to preserve unity, but not to advocate uniformity, since Muslim communities contain a variety of different backgrounds. He was real entrancing, as well as energetic Mash’Allah, and I was glad to have caught his talk, even though he had a lot more he wanted to cover but the lack of time didn’t allow it. During these talks I missed Sh. Zia ul-Haqq, also from Dallas, who gave a talk to the youth with Sh Zoubair entitled “Cool Shaykh,” so that kinda stunk.


Well, it was around 6ish when we decided to leave. I wouldn’t have minded staying longer, but the consensus (yes all three of us) was to bust before Asr because there was nothing notable going on afterwards. Overall, the event had a pretty good turnout Mash’Allah, but there was too much crazy implicit gender interaction present. And as for speakers, the focus should’ve been on quality not quantity. It was apparent there’d be more people in the food area than in the hall at certain times, plus there’s not a whole lot a speaker can get across in 25 minute talks. On a more positive note, they did provide congruent programs for the Youth and Sisters, but I didn’t attend those for obvious reasons. The best thing about the event was the little flyer they made that presented Islam’s view of Isa (as) in refutation to this The Da Vinci Code phenomenon that is going on. Insh’Allah, if I make it through another year, I’d go to the 2nd installment of this conference if it happens.

Walaikum Asalam


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