By Adil James, TMO
Imam Suhaib Webb addresses the ISPU audience.
Livonia–November 23–The ISPU held an extremely successful fundraiser this past Saturday evening at Burton Manor. Several hundred audience members were present for the fundraiser, enjoying speeches by â€œcelebrity imamâ€ Suhaib Webb and ISPU founders and management.
The ISPU event was conducted on the theme of â€œUnmosqued, Reimagining Muslim Spaces.â€ The purpose of the fundraiser was to emphasize ISPUâ€™s focus, going forward–the ISPU representatives who spoke through the night described the painful process of self-evaluation by which they discussed ISPUâ€™s strengths and weaknesses with many critics.
Interim Executive Director and rising star Farhan Latif spoke at length about this difficult process, describing over 300 hours comprising over 100 interviews to analyze the performance of the institution.
He spoke of grants to ISPU from prominent institutions such as Google, Oracle, the Kellogg Foundation, Pillars Fund, and the Proteus Foundation, all building on the donations from â€œgrass-rootsâ€ ordinary Muslims of any amounts whether small or large.
And so at this time ISPU has begun the process of examining mosques throughout the United States to see important flaws and strengths of the Muslimsâ€™ most important and most central institutions.
At issue are treatment of women, treatment of children, and treatment of different ethnicities, notably convert Muslims, at American mosques. Also at issue are whether Muslim mosques address or fail to address vital community issues such as divorce and even Islamophobia.
The first study in relation to â€œreimagining Muslim spacesâ€ was one by Dr. Ihsan Bagby, on mosques around the country.
In line with this vitally important issue of the comfort of Muslim women in mosques was Hind Makki, who spoke at length of the growing literal marginalization of her own position in her home mosque, which progressed as the mosque developed in strength of numbers, the womenâ€™s position in the mosque migrating from the center out and down to a basement portion.
This raises the vital question of whether our community will be viable into the future if we marginalize vitally important sections of our own community.
Dr. Iltefat Hamzavi, â€œISPUâ€™s biggest fan,â€ the original founder of ISPU, spoke happily of its development to its current position, under the guidance of the many who have provided their service and volunteer work to the organization.
He mentioned a vitally important statistic, that 15-45% of self-identifying Muslims do not go to the mosque. He wisely mentioned that Muslims shall have to make their own way through these difficult issues, but that we can seek to benefit by analyzing what has happened in this regard to other communities, such as Baptists, Jews, Catholics, and others.
Imam Suhaib Webb spoke at length on his work and the biography of his own conversion to Islam.
He emphasized the vital importance of reaching out and maintaining openness to Muslims and non-Muslims who might not be perfect but who have love or interest in Islam.
He spoke of having conducted 500 conversions in Boston at his mosque, and described in some detail his own progression from the point of deciding to convert to Islam with full faith lighting his face (despite his being in a van and on drugs at the time) through his first encounter with people at a mosque, to his studies abroad at Al-Azhar and elsewhere, and then coming back to the United States to serve as an imam to the Muslim community.