The program was primarily framed around the life of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), his experiences, and his legacy.
For three days, conference attendees engaged in a variety of activities designed to cleanse the soul and encourage deeper spirituality. Guest speakers discussed traditions from the Prophet's time and shed light on many potential avenues for religious and spiritual fulfillment. This weekend has given the Muslim community unforgettable memories such as youth programs, talent shows, workshops, Quran competition, Bazaar and much more.
The participation of youth and kids was noticeable along with many non-profit organizations. The highlight of the convention was the world renowned scholars coming from around the world and from all over United States which totaled to 54 scholars. During Friday prayer the theme of the khutba was “This is what Muhammad taught me, character building” which was given by Zaid Shakir. The khutba delved into how nobody else but Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is the model by which we shape our manners as Muslims for ourselves and the society. With the motto, where manners make the person, we should learn how the teachings of the Prophet (pbuh) on building and perfecting our manners and character get us a desired place in the hereafter. The Prophet (pbuh) had said, “I have been sent to perfect the best of morals” and how with his wisdom we can come from darkness to light spiritually, behaviorally, and through activism.
The other main highlight was the Bazaar, which included Islamic literature, cultural dresses, hand-made crafts made of wood and other materials, and many beautiful decorations all around. The record breaking attendance coupled with Islamic scholars made the convention a massive success. MAS-ICNA has always worked toward unity and cooperation within the Muslim American community, their effort to bring unity and true Islam are clearly visible and I hope to see more of such great planning and organization.
Of course there was an entertainment factor which was very appealing to everyone. On Saturday and Sunday nights “Sound of Reason” was the first to perform, followed by a big applause to “Brother Ali”, then “Khaled TheComic”, ending with the aspiring young singer/munshid Ismail Al-Qadi.
Every night starting Friday there was Qiam-ul-Lail Prayer, Witr & Duaa from 12:10-12:30am and Tahjjud Prayer, Witr and Duaa followed by Fajr Prayer from 5:20-6:00am. Sunday included many new first time youth programs. The most notable ones were “There is no God but God” by Siraj Wahaj, the myTED forum, and the Quran Competition Awards and
Ceremony. Although the convention officially ended on Sunday, on Monday they had two main workshops for the youth:
Dawa Training and Islamic Education. Both of them ran concurrently to give a chance to whoever wanted to go to the one that he/she is more interested in. There were many sponsors for the event; to name a few that participated in giving some inspiring lectures were Islamic Relief USA, Life, Zaytuna College, ICNA Relief USA and Iqraa.
There was a huge emphasis from many non-profit organizations on the importance of giving and donating not only to the needy but also in support of those organizations. Guide Us TV which Yusuf Estes is Founder & Director gave great lectures, and also appealed that
without the support of brothers and sisters, the only Muslim TV station that runs 24 hours will be shut down and will only be available online and not via basic cable. I had a chance to speak to Nihad Awad the Executive Director of Council of American-Islamic Relation (CAIR), America's largest Muslim civil liberties advocacy organization who asked for support from all Muslims to help sustain the organization so that it will continue to protect Muslims right in America.
Last but not least, I also spoke with Yousef Abdallah regional Manager for Islamic Relief USA right after giving stunning facts of what crises are going on in the world and how they are tackling it one crisis at a time with the support of American Muslims, be it via donations, volunteering, public awareness and education. At the end of the convention it concluded with Dr. Muhammad Anan, MAS Chicago President, saying,“Our thanks and gratitude goes to the attendees for being with us and supporting our convention. Above all, we thank Allah (SWT) for his mercy and blessings.”
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