The ICNA Conference, held at York College this past Sunday, April 30, kept its tradition of having a variety of speakers from different backgrounds, ethnicities, communities and genders. The first part of the conference consisted of an exhibition of books about the Prophet in many different languages including Russian, Bengali, Arabic and Urdu. After Asr prayer, held outside on the lawn, Imam Shamsi Ali gave a brief background on Aa’isha (may Allah be pleased with her) and her love for the Prophet salallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and how she carried on his legacy through her transmission of Hadith and her reports of him being a walking Qur’an.
Next, Brother Wael Mousfar gave a brief but energy boosting speech on how the enemies of Islam have done many favors to the religion and have inadvertently helped people to become more curious about the religion, thus causing many to convert to Islam. “We have an allegiance to Allah and the Prophet as Muslims and we have to come together against the great enemies of Islam and continue to defend and propagate this deen. The question that we have to ask ourselves as Muslims is: what have we as individuals done to promote the Prophet’s image?”
After Brother Wael’s speech, former Congressman from Illinois, Paul Findley, spoke on his admiration for Muslims and the faith. The topic of his speech was, ‘How Muslims Should Reach Out to Non-Muslims’. “I have traveled to many Muslim countries and have been interacting with Muslims in America for a long time and I have never once came across a Muslim terrorist,” he said, to great applause. “Unfortunately people still believe what they see on TV about Muslims because many people do not know who and what Muslims are.” He went on further to state that the reason why people have a warped idea about what Muslims are because the headlines always directly connect Islam to violence. He challenged the Muslims to connect with others who are not Muslim by going to visit other houses of worship and to introduce themselves to someone after the service. Let them know who you are and what Islam is really about. He ended his speech by calling the Muslim community to become ambassadors of Islam and reach out to those who are Non-Muslim and to help them understand that Muslims are decent, loving, kind people and are not the monsters that are shown on the news. “I do not know of any problems in the world today that are more deserving of your attention.”
Sister Rehana Abdulla spoke on Prophet Muhammad salallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam being the greatest reformer of all times. “We can learn and obtain many benefits from the miracle that Prophet Muhammad salallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam was divinely chosen, someone who could not read or write.” In a published book by the name of ‘The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History’ by Michael Hart, Prophet Muhammad appeared as number one on the list. What was it about Prophet Muhammad salallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam that can inspire someone 1400 years later to place him at the top of his list of the 100 most influential people in history, especially since that person never saw him nor is that person a Muslim? Allah says clearly in the Qur’an that Truth stands out clear from falsehood [2:256].
Brother Bawai Jain spoke afterwards and challenged the statement of Mr. Findley that Muslims should wear certain types of symbols to identify themselves as Muslims. Brother Bawai stated that, “It is not necessary for us to identify ourselves through symbols but rather [through] our actions and how we treat others as Muslims. It is better that someone comes to know our character and then later discovers that we are Muslim. [This would have] a greater impact than the symbols we wear to show that we are Muslim.”
After Maghrib prayer, Dr. Jamal Badawi spoke via telecast on how the Prophet Muhammad dealt with Islamophobia. He gave examples of the Makkan period when the Prophet did not act aggressively or in an ill manner with those who opposed, humiliated and oppressed him and his followers. He counteracted their negative attitudes with patience, understanding, and wisdom. He also reached out to people who did not know anything about Islam. The way that Prophet Muhammad salallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam dealt with such people is the way we must do so in this day and age.
Other speakers educated the audience on the various roles and life that Prophet Muhammad salallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam played and helped us to better understand how he was able to establish and spread Islam without the usage of the media that we have today. Brother Khalid Yasin ended the conference with a dynamite speech in which he stated the prophesy by Prophet Muhammad that we as an Ummah today would be the preservers of the Quran and that the message of Islam will continue to spread until it is in every home until the last days. May Allah make us the lucky ones who will accomplish such a task.
All Mankind were once one single community; [then they began to differ] whereupon God raised up the prophets as heralds of glad tidings and as warners, and through them bestowed revelation from on high, setting forth the truth, so that it might decide between people with regard to all on which they had come to hold divergent views. Yet none other than the selfsame people who had been granted this [revelation] began, out of mutual jealousy, to disagree about its meaning after all evidence of the truth had come unto them. But God guided the believers unto the truth about which, by His leave, they had disagreed: for God guides onto a straight way him that wills [to be guided]. [2:213]
This article was written by Tahira Muhammad and was published in the Metro Section of Mirror International Weekly