By Saad, The Muslim Voice
The ICNA Convention – the atmosphere, the vibe, and hype is quite amazing. Just the thought of thousands of Muslims gathering at one location for three days straight, meeting Muslims from so many diverse communities, and listening to your favorite and inspiring speakers upfront, totally beats any other average weekend.
I knew about this excitement before going to the recent South Central Convention, having been to the previous National ICNA Convention. However, it was my first time attending the south convention, so I wasn’t sure what exactly to expect, and if the hype would live up to the weekend.
Surprisingly, this year’s south central convention was the first three-day ICNA convention. In previous years, the ICNA south convention was only a day long. Obviously being the first time transitioning from a simple one day conference to a three convention would be tough for the organizers, I would assume.
The convention displayed a strong premise. With some strong, world renowned speakers such as, Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan, Shaykh Omar Suleiman, Shaykh Mohammed Faqih, Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda, Shaykh Saad Tasleem, and more. The format of the convention was also similar to other ICNA conventions, including interactive presentations, parallel sessions, workshops, the great ICNA bazaar, and of course the infamous ICNA entertainment session featuring Preacher Moss, Ahmad Hussain (Nasheed Artist from UK)
and Imaad Khan- Poet. The downside was that unlike other ICNA convention, there was not a full length YM parallel session, although there were several youth only (YM) sessions which were of very high caliber.
All of the sessions I attended were enlightening, with that being said, the ones I thought were most intriguing were, Love Struck (Shaykh Saad Tasleem, Ust. Nouman, and Imam Omar), Six Feet Under (Shaykh ANJ and Saad Tasleem), Preparing the Ground (Shaykh ANJ, Dr. Mohammad Yunus, Br. Javaid Siddiqi, Imam Omer Suleiman, and Ust. Nouman Ali Khan), Final Master Plan: Construction Time! (Ust. Nouman, Dr. Muhammad Yunus, and Shk. ANJ), and a YM Secret session (YM members only – Shk Saad Tasleem, Imam Qasim, and Shk Mohammad Faqih).
Out of all of these sessions, I found the final session, “Final Master Plan”, Love Struck, and the YM Secret Session the most awe-inspiring and motivating.
The YM Secret Session was absolutely mind blowing.
Unlike other sessions, this one was one to one interaction with the speakers and exclusive to YM members only, which is unfortunate because the session was one that could have been beneficial for all. Imam Qasim just blew me away. From the Young Muslims facebook page:
At this past weekend’s convention, Young Muslims chapters from Houston and Dallas had the opportunity to sit down in a private Nasiha Session with Saad Tasleem, Mohammed Faqih, and Imam Qasim Khan. During this session, one of the brothers from YM asked an emotional question on how he can help his friend recover from the destructive path he is on. The entire room full of young men got completely quiet and several brothers were in tears as he spoke. In response, Imam Qasim matched his emotion and motivated the entire group of youth and reassured them that we all have flaws, and we are all sinners, but the reason Allah has not exposed us is because he sees potential in us. And if we doubt that a brother can come back from these mistakes and become a firm believe again, than that shows our lack of faith in Allah being the greatest. #icnasouth
LoveStruck was another YM session, this one was open to all attendees. The cool thing about this session was that it was more of an open forum, where the speakers were not speaking subsequently to each other, rather they all sat on the table and spoke bit by bit (sort of like a discussion format).
Shaykh Saad made some awesome points about steps to a successful marriage, pointing out that there is no such thing as an perfect, ideal “other half”, and Ust. Nouman and Imam Omar followed up with some other great points.
Finally, the final session, Final Master Plan, Ust. Nouman and Shaykh Abdul Nassir broke it down on how we, Muslim Americans have so much potential. It was quite contradictory to the rational concept in our times, that the Muslim community is collapsing, the youth are suffering, etc. Shaykh ANJ spoke about how, “yes we might be 20 years behind”, but we still have so much potential, and the ICNA convention is an example of that. I loved how Ust. Nouman pointed out that we should be focused on how more to inspire others before teaching them.
Luckily, for those that were not able to attend the convention, one sister types up notes for much of the convention and posted them up publicly.
Aside from the sessions, the bazaar was pretty awesome. The Islamic Art Gallery was pretty cool.
And what I think really made the Saturday night session amazing was seeing one man taking the shahada after a uplifting speech by Imam Omar Suleiman.
So did the convention live up to the hype?
This was the first three day ICNA convention in the south. Keeping that in mind, there were definitively some improvements the organizers can work on (Insha’Allah).
The amount of attendees was outstanding, subhan’Allah. So much so that there were many instances were sessions were over packed (I had to sit on the floor for a lot of the sessions). Some sessions were way too over incapacitated which lead to gates closing and no entry for them. Even though there was a separate room set up with a projector presenting the session live, a lot of attendees were disappointed, having paid so much money to watch sessions on a screen or not seeing them at all. With that being said, there were some bad adhab shown by the attendees that should be addressed. Some organizers were threatened and yelled at, which is completely unacceptable, considering it to be an Islamic convention. The number one factor in improving for next year’s convention would be a bigger venue, hiring security, perhaps keeping police officers, and maybe a session on keeping patience and respect for volunteers at conventions? Was really disappointed on some of the behavior shown by attendees.
Another, smaller issue, I saw was the entertainment session. The session was late (like other conventions), however, what I noticed was that by the time Preacher Moss and Nasheed artist Ahmad Hussain came up to preform, the audience was scarce (only a quarter of the room was filled). I saw people starting to leave after the first performance by poet Imaad Khan performed, after a helping hands presentation was announced. I think since it was later at night, the helping hands presentation should have been kept at an earlier time. Also, the performers all did amazing, however, I think there wasn’t a good explanation of what was the purpose of the entertainment session, which might have caused some people to opt to come. I remember in the National ICNA Convention I attended, right before the entertainment session, Ust. Nouman spoke about an issue related to family relations, this was a speech to all ages. I think if they had maybe a small, family related speech from a motivational speaker, right before the entertainment session, it would have transitioned well for what would be a family related- entertainment session.
Other then those few issues, I thought this convention was beyond amazing. I was left impressed by how well this convention was organized, again being the first three-day ICNA convention in the south. I absolutely loved it. This was the first time me and a group of friends went on a road trip, and it was worth the money and time.
After coming back from this three day, weekend long, convention I’ve realized how much potential we have as a community. From the inspirational and uplifting motivational speeches by some straight, down to earth speakers, spending time with such a vast and diverse crowd of Muslims, to simply interacting and feeling that powerful united vibe in the atmosphere. The power of these conventions are that it brings together a huge diverse crowd of people, with different ideas and talents, and binds them together to produce a larger entity with a strong motivational force. During one of the sessions, Shaykh Abdul Nassir Jangda pointed out that during the time of the Prophet pbuh, he and his message were ridiculed and insulted, however, the strong community that exists today, such that was seen at the convention, shows the true success of the message of Muhammad pbuh.
From the great atmosphere of a sense of community, to the motivational and inspiring speakers. I speak with great conviction and appreciation, this convention was by far one of the best I have ever attended. Great job to all the organizers, May Allah swt reward them for their hard work, Ameen.
Overall Ratting: 9.7/10
Had an amazing time alhumdollilah, and can’t forget to mention the amazing brotherhood made from the convention to the amazing roadtrip to and back from the convention. Can’t wait for next year insha’Allah!
Article Courtesy: The Muslim Voice