ISNA President Ingrid Mattson addresses ISNA conference attendees during the 45th Annual ISNA Convention, on the theme, Ramadan, a Time for Change.
By Ilyas Choudry, MMNS
Columbus OH–September 1–Republicans and Democrats love conventions, but vying with them for attention is the annual ISNA Convention, held this year in Columbus Ohio.
This was ISNAâ€™s 45th Annual convention, on the theme Ramadan–A Time for Change, at the Greater Columbus Ohio Convention Center.
Tens of thousands of guests from all over the US, Canada and overseas participated in the 45th Annual Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) Convention at the Greater Columbus Convention Center (SMG Managed) from August 29 through September 01, 2008. This Labor Day convention started off with a press conference conducted by Dr. Ingrid Mattson, President of ISNA, which ended with suhur and fajr prayers.
Some of the important programs at the weekend conference included: the Kashmir Resolution Forum with Lord Nazir Ahmed of British Parliament; a dynamic forum for Muslim youth called Open Spaces; an Islamic art exhibit Appreciate Beauty – Be Inspired; Entertainment sessions with Muslim artists and comedians; a film festival; a National Qiraâ€™at Competition; a Muslim Professional Network; a Meet the Author Program; Health Fare; Matrimonial Banquet; Halal Food-Court and A Time For Reflection: A Journey of 45 Years.
In attendance at the convention was Sada Cumber, the United States Envoy appointed by President George Bush to the 56 countries of the Organization of Islamic Conferences (OIC). Famous Islamic scholars were also present, including Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, Imam Zaid Shakir, Ustad Suhaib Webb, Yusuf Ziya Kavakci, Abd alâ€™Hakim Jackson, Zulfiqar Ali Shah, Sulayman Nyang, Mokhtar Maghraoui, Yasir Qadhi and many others.
Dr. Ingrid Mattson introduced the theme of the convention, Ramadan: A Time for Change at the Press Conference.
Said Ms. Mattson, â€œlike the previous years, ISNA has organized a meaningful, educational and fun environment for the conference participants. Everyone can count on experiencing something new, since the Islamic Community brings so much diversity. We have over 500 booths in the Bazaar and that is one of the major attractions for the attendees. The booths are providing information, a film festival, matrimonial, entertainment, opportunities to network, shop and a forum for families to reunite with friends and loved ones.â€
Following the press conference, a joint session of ISNA with Habitat for Humanity on â€œHousing and Povertyâ€ was held. Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International, was the keynote speaker: â€œThrough our presence at this gathering, we want to encourage people of every faith to work together and focus on housing as a way to overcome povertyâ€, said Mr. Reckford.
â€œThe 45th Annual ISNA Convention is a significant family oriented event that our facility is pleased to host, enabling tens of thousands of attendees to enjoy the convention and our city during the holiday weekend,â€ said SMG Regional General Manager Craig M. Liston.
This yearâ€™s convention included an opportunity to celebrate health and life with the platform of 2008 ISNA Health Fair that featured free health screenings for blood pressure, diabetes and body mass index (BMI). The health fair with its blood drive attracted many to have free medical checkups and donate blood to benefit people. â€œAfter going through various medical tests and having received excellent information of my health state, I feel encouraged and empowered with knowledge to take good care of my health and of the people around me. One should have a healthy living as long as we are alive. It helps fulfilling our religious and social obligations,â€ said one of the participants.
â€œOur event is a gathering of families, youth and students in our community, with a bazaar simultaneous with the convention. There are speakers from abroad and throughout the United States. Those who did not come to this yearâ€™s amazing event, should not miss the next one in Washington DC over the long weekend of Independence Day, July, 2009,â€ said one of the main organizers, Basharat Saleem.