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)?'”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
Photo(s) taken by Muhammad Tahir for ICNA