On a rainy Saturday morning in Atlanta, GA, Muslims from all over the southeast region of the United States poured into the Renaissance Waverly Hotel for the 25th annual ICNA-MAS conference.
Beautiful scarves, sparkling jewelry, and sweet-smelling scents lined the hallways of the conference exhibit hall. The conference was scheduled to begin at 11:00 AM sharp for the inaugural opening in the Grand Ballroom. Healing Humanity was the theme for this year’s conference.
This year’s conference began with a beautiful Quranic recitation and a Fiqh question and answer session with speakers, Sh. Abdool Rahman, Dr. Asif Hirani, and Fiyaaz Inayaat Ullah.
Allah says in the Qur’an, “Do not ask those unnecessary questions. If it is mentioned to you, it can cause you hardship.” In other places in the Qur’an, “If you do not know, ask the people of remembrance and knowledge.”
These verses from the Qur’an set the tone for this opening session.
The first question of the day was presented by a young sister from the crowd.
“What is the ruling regarding the allowance of Muslim men marrying non-Muslim women compared to the ruling of Muslim women not being able to marry a non-Muslim man?”
“The concept of a successful marriage means both parties are living happily. It can’t be accomplished without you sharing the same values as your spouse. Even in many schools of thought, it is not recommended for men to marry non-Muslim women,” Dr. Hirani responded during the session.
The session continued with questions surrounding prayer timings, home purchasing, and gender relations. These questions were answered intently and with the wisdom of the Qur’an and the implications of being a Muslim in the West.
The official opening session was held after the afternoon prayer and was opened by a welcome from Abdul Rauf Khan and Brother Javaid Siddiqui. They spoke on a central message of unity and healing humanity as the theme of this year’s conference.
“This is a universal religion. A religion for all people and for all times in history,” Br. Javaid Siddiqui stated in his eloquent opening message.
Imam Khalid Griggs joined the stage to reinforce the message of healing humanity through our Islamic principles.
“The problem and solution to whether we would be successful is how we approach the subject of materialism. Materialism is a philosophy that denies anything you can’t see or touch. It makes matter superior to anything else,” Imam Khalid profusely expressed on the stage.
The inaugural session ended with a beautiful talk from Shaykh Yasir Faya and Imam Suheib Webb. The topic of dealing with differences was discussed by Br. Yasir.
“The most universal language in the world is compassion. If you are helping an elderly person cross the street, it doesn’t matter what language you speak or where you are from. Everyone knows exactly what is happening,” Br. Yasir spoke eloquently to the crowd of attendees.
Imam Suhaib Webb joined the stage shortly after Imam Yasir and spoke on the topic of fear and hope.
“It is important to not fall into a false sense of untethered hope. There has to be a unique balance between law and hope. To be balanced is to be in the constant state of toil,” Imam Suhaib Webb spoke from the stage.
“Healing humanity, embracing diversity, and understanding our differences has been my biggest takeaway from this opening session,” Vanessa Sharif reported to Aboutislam.net.
At the conclusion of the inaugural opening, the main hall was flooded with Muslims from almost every nation from around the world.
You could feel the energy and warm vibration from the participants entering into the hotel. The bazaar shops were booming and the elevators packed with newly arriving guests.
“The opening session revived my heart. I look forward to the rest of the program,” Kassim Zaid from Atlanta, GA reported to AboutIslam.net.