By Rida Fozi
As Iqbal Shariff glanced around the Youth Conference hall, he noted something new. This year, the first two rows were reserved exclusively for a group of deaf Muslims. Shariff’s response first took the form of inspiration, quickly followed by emotion. He says, “As tears poured from my eyes, I asked myself, ‘How do they believe in Allah (SWT)?’”
Through the length of the conference, an American Sign Language interpreter translated lectures for deaf Muslims in attendance.
Shariff is not alone in his admiration for his deaf brothers and sisters and Global Deaf Muslim, the organization dedicated to bringing deaf Muslims the knowledge of and love for Islam. The 35th
Annual ICNA-MAS Convention marked the first time GDM made an appearance at a major Muslim event.
Through ICNA’s live webcast, Muslims worldwide were granted a window through which to view the American Muslim community. ICNA IT team behind the scene (above).
For the organizers, this year’s ICNA-MAS Convention was all about new horizons. Not only was this the first time any Muslim organization catered to the needs of the deaf Muslim community, it was also the first time an American Muslim organization broadcast its main sessions across the web free of cost.
More bazaar booths were added due to high demand but were again sold out within hours.
While convention publicity generally consists of flyer distribution and TV/print advertisements, ICNA Live was publicized only one day prior to the convention chiefly through social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. In spite of this, nearly 8,000 people logged on to ICNA’s website over the course of the weekend and nearly 4,000 viewed the live feed.
Waqas Ahmed, Assistant Secretary General and Chair of the ICNA IT Department expressed his thanks to “volunteers for working round the clock to develop, test and launch the ICNA Live feature.” Along with viewing main hall and selected youth sessions, individuals also participated in the Twitter/Facebook/AIM based chat embedded on the live feed page, marking yet another milestone for ICNA.
ICNA President Dr. Bukhari at the parallel Youth Conference Happily Ever Here-After? by YM.
Nearly 14,000 attendees were treated to lectures, workshops and panel discussions on topics ranging from raising teens to finding a spouse to combating domestic abuse.
The convention core team began planning months in advance, inviting nearly 100 prominent scholars, leaders, and academics to speak at this year’s conference. The weekend’s lectures were framed around the “Save Family, Save Society,” theme, part of ICNA’s ongoing campaign to reform society through empowering the family.
Sh. Maghraoui in one of the nearly 100 sessions held over 3 days.
Sunday night, Twitter user seebs08 echoed a sentiment that seemed to be bouncing around the Connecticut Convention Center up through Monday morning. “So sad this weekend at ICNA is almost over.” User issMEzahweee’s take? “Some things never change regardless of whether you’re 6 or 56… and one of them is the sadness you feel when ICNA is over.”
One of the four rooms where children's programs were held.
ICNA Business Networking & Career Fair was a first this year.
Overflow audience at the entertainment session.
Nearly 200 participated in Midnight Basketball for Youth Boys
A well equipped prayer area was designated throughout the convention.
Indoor rock climbing and bungee jumping in the children's area.
A large play area catered to thousands of children.
Children's favorite characters have become familiar and popular attractions.
Presidents of ICNA and MAS, Dr. Zahid Bukhari (right) and Dr. Ahmad El Bendary (left) presenting award to Prof. Sulayman Nyang (center) for his sevices to Islam and the American Muslim community.
Naeem Baig, Executive Director for the Washington DC based ICNA Council for Social Justice. Nearly 100 speakers were hosted this year.
Asim Khan from ICNA NJ performing during the main entertainment session watched by a record live audience world wide.
Mahbubur Rahman, Editor of The Message International holds up a special convention edition of the magazine.
Photo(s) taken by Muhammad Tahir for ICNA