“I am soon going to Egypt from my job and now-a-days learning Arabic: What is happening here?”: This was asked by one young Caucasian girl, as she questioned the attendees of the First Ever Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) South Central Conference at Westin Galleria Houston between July 04 and July 06, 2008. The theme of the conference was most appropriate: “Muslims in the Public Square” – Spiritual and Institutional Development”, with four tracks: One track for school going children; Second track prepared by the Muslim Youth of North America (MYNA) on Youth Issues in the Public Square in their Colleges and Universities; Third track included Muslims participation in the political arena at all levels; and Fourth track was about Muslim Professional Physicians and their expertise and health information for Muslim Families in this city of world’s largest and best Houston Medical Center.
“It is good to know that the largest Muslim Organization ISNA has chosen Houston, especially Westin Galleria Hotel, for this convention, since we have most diversified community living in this city and the perfect location of Galleria gives chance for Muslims and non-Muslims to see each other and interact”: The same girl added after knowing more details about the conference and after seeing the over forty vendor booths of Islamic and Muslim goods and seen the over 2,000 people gathered at this Convention.
“Acid Test will be, when we leave this Convention. One basic thing to remember is that Muslims are torch bearers of the communiqué of the Mercy unto Mankind Messenger Mohammad Peace Be Upon him: We need to continue to serve humanity at-large without any discrimination and enjoin in good societal and community projects”: ILDC Executive Director Dr. Louay Safi was giving his concluding remarks at the final session of the Convention.
“I have always found Muslims to be most well informed, good educational background and people of sound family values:” These were remarks of Mayor of Houston Bill White, as he addressed more than 400 people, who attended the ISNA Celebration Banquet.
Emcee at this dinner was young Mona Khalil. Salient speakers included Dr. Ingrid Mattson President of ISNA, who talked about the democratic set-up at ISNA and embracing of pluralism at ISNA with all diversified group of Muslims involved in decision making including the head being a Muslim lady herself and Dr. Abd AL Hakim Jackson of Michigan, who spoke about theological tolerance in Islam. Present on the occasion were various dignitaries of the Houston Community and ISNA Central Leadership like Basharat Saleem, Dr. Ahmed AL-Hatab, Azhar Azeez, Dr. Louay Safi, Brother Lodhi, Maha ElGenaidi, Muneer Fareed, Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, Safaa Zarzour, Sayyid M. Syeed and others.
The City of Houston Councilperson M. J. Khan received the biggest honor from ISNA of Leadership Award for Outstanding Community Service: “I have most blessed by Allah SWT to have gotten various awards, but this one from ISNA is the most dearest to me and I feel most humbled and honored to have received it from our great leader Dr. Ingrid Mattson:” M. J. Khan said.
Besides the Exhibits and Bazaar, there were Main Hall programs and smaller room break out sessions of ISNA, Muslim Student Association (MSA), Muslim Youth of North America (MYNA) and Islamic Medical Association (IMA). Entertainment was provided by Muslim Band “786” and Comedians Moh and Preacher Moss. Poetry Session in Urdu called “Mushaira” was very thought provoking as well as humorous. Baby-Sitting was provided, while another excellent session was the Matrimonial Network Luncheon Event.
By the Grace of Allah SWT, everyone was most impressed by the inroads made by Muslims of Houston in the political arena (with the establishment of the Coalition of the New American Communities CONAC: More information with Afaq Durrani at firstname.lastname@example.org or Call 713-702-2377), and the Healthcare Fields especially the services provided via the City of Houston and Harris County by Muslim Physicians during the Katrina.
Various sessions included Community Building , Community Service, Healthy Communities by Muslim Physicians, Conflict Resolution/Peace Building, Interfaith, Economic Development and Investments, Education, Family, Inheritance, Islamic Banking and Finance, Media, Planned Giving and Endowment, Spiritual Development, Political & Civic Institutions.
Several renowned speakers spoke, including: Abdalla Idris Ali, Dr. Abdul Ali, Dr. Abd AL Hakim Jackson, Afaq Durrani, Ala Sallam, Dr. Azam Kundi, Dr. Azeem-ud-Din, Dr. Asaf Qadeer, Eisa Galloway, Habeeb Quadri, Hamid Ghazali, Hesham Ebaid, Dr. Ibrahim Dremali, Dr. Ingrid Mattson, Dr. Louay Safi, Maha ElGenaidi, M. J. Khan, Dr. Laeeq Khan, Dr. Mazhar Kazi, Mamdouh Rezeika, Monem Salam, Mostafa Mehmoud, M. El-Moctar El-Shinqiti, Mujahid Fletcher, Muneer Fareed, Mustafa Tameez, Muzammil Siddiqi, Hafiz Nisar-ul-Haq, Ubaid Qazi, Rafique Janjua, Rodwan Saleh, Shad Siddiqi, Aisha Noor, Shahed Amanullah, Safaa Zarzour, Sayyid M. Syeed, Zuhaira Razzak, and many more.
“Lets’ put spotlight on the good in the society and among the Muslims: Let the Muslims’ become bearers of all that is good: The success of this convention can easily be attributed to the immense hard-work of our Youth: They are indeed ready to lead us forward”: These were the concluding remarks of Dr. Moien Butt, as the Convention ended around Zuhar Prayers on July 06, 2008.
For more information on ISNA, please write to: ISNA, P. O. Box 38 , Plainfield , IN 46168 or Call (317)-839-8157 or E-Mail: Convention@ISNA.Net or Fax: (317)-839-1822.