After weeks of discussions ICNA’s Convention Program Committee settled on the theme for its 2015 national convention in Baltimore in May of this year – Islam: The Connection between Purpose, Compassion and Service.
Flyers and posters were already prepared to advertise for this inspirational annual gathering. The whole idea was to prepare way ahead of time and everything was geared up for its launching the following week at the Annual MGA meeting in Orlando, Florida.
But on January 7, 2015 an incident took place in Paris that would put 1.8 billion Muslims across the globe once again in the spotlight. This incident made headline news in almost every leading news outlet both print and electronic, as well as on social media. Everyone wanted answers as to why a group of so-called Muslims entered the office of a satirical magazine and gunned down its staff members.
While there was an outpouring of condemnation of the indefensible massacre across the Muslim world, another question arose: Why were the cartoonists fixated on Muhammad (peace be upon him) who is held in the greatest honor by 1.8 billion Muslims? What purpose is there to distort and disrespect him in the name of freedom of speech? Who in his rightful mind would stoop that low to satirically assault such a noble person?
Satire is the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues. Does God’s final Messenger deserve this ridicule and mockery? The answer is simply no. Either the satirists do not have any knowledge of the real, historically documented prophet of Islam or they are guilty of barefaced bigotry and xenophobic hatred. In either case, it is our duty as true followers of Muhammad (peace be upon him) to repudiate the falsehoods and misrepresentations about him, to counteract the defamatory caricaturing of him – to defend him by presenting his true teachings and noble character.
So by near unanimous consensus the MGA body decided to change the theme of this year’s convention to “Muhammad (peace be upon him)” and to make 2015 “The Year of Muhammad SAS.” Please stay tuned for details on other initiatives under this national campaign.
We want to provide the information for our fellow Americans to understand Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) universal message of peace and love and his role in building the foundations of a movement devoted to truth and social justice. The Prophet has inspired humanity for the last fourteen centuries with his message of faith in One God and his caring and compassion for all human beings. In this convention we aim to address how Muhammad (pbuh) instituted universal principles of human dignity, justice, fairness, consultation, tolerance and forgiveness, equality of individuals regardless of race or ethnicity, and peaceful co-existence among the nations and peoples of the world. It is because of these and the countless other high-minded principles of Islam that Muhammad began with a small band of followers in seventh century Arabia and that group has now grown to a global community of 1.8 billion, a fourth of the world’s population. Influencing their lives from prayer to politics, instructions on personal hygiene to the need to think and reflect in order to recognize the Signs of God everywhere, this one man continues to uplift and give purpose to the lives of millions. His message is fully relevant and needed in our world today with all its conflict and suffering.
We hope that this timely theme will provide a platform for scholars, both Muslim and non-Muslim, to come together to share their thoughts, to dialogue, and to strive for mutual understanding and appreciation. We will see this as a wonderful opportunity to make plain the misinformation about Muhammad (peace be upon him), and then to share our rich heritage and tradition through the true narrative of the final messenger to humanity, Muhammad, about whom Allah SWT says in the Quran, “And We have not sent you except as a mercy to mankind” (21:107).
For more details on the annual convention, please visit http://www.icnaconvention.org.
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