By Staff Writer, May 1, 2014
After nine years in Hartford, the annual ICNA-MAS convention has moved across states to be held in Baltimore this Memorial Day weekend. In an interview today, Naeem Baig, the president of the Islamic Circle of North America, provided insight into this decision.
For the last few years the Islamic Circle of North America attempted to find a new location for the convention but there were not many places that combined location and availability. This year, after smooth negotiations, ICNA signed a contract with the Baltimore Convention Center.
“We like to change locations every three or four years,” said Naeem Baig, president of the Islamic Circle of North America. This provides the opportunity for people from different areas to participate and benefit from the program, and enjoy the experience.
The convention brings together close to 100 scholars, speakers, and activists in one location to be a means of benefit to the community, said Baig. There is no other program that similarly combines intellectuals, experts and motivators for two and half days.
Additionally, the convention hosts a separate Youth Conference, which attracts a massive audience, and programs for children. The ICNA Sisters’ Wing also organizes special sisters’ only programs for their members.
This is first Muslim convention in which the newly formed U.S. Council of Muslim Organizations is to be highlighted. USCMO is an umbrella group that will serve as a representative voice for Muslims as that faith community seeks to enhance its positive impact on society.
“Our biggest desire is to see the Muslim community participate in large numbers and benefit from this convention,” said Baig. We also wish for people to become members of ICNA because this would allow them to participate in programs and projects on a regular basis.
ICNA, as a grassroots organization, holds the convention for the sake of encouraging the Muslim community to engage with their own larger communities.
“If we are able to motivate Muslim brothers and sisters to participate in their communities, their masajid, their local organizations – that will be the biggest benefit from the convention,” said Baig.