By Susan Schwartz, MMNS Southern California Correspondent
The issues of family values, of the expectations of family members and even of what constitutes a family and what its place in society is, involves all human beings. This popular subject was addressed by the Muslim America Society in its recent convention.
The Muslim American Society (MAS) held its 13th Annual Regional Convention this past weekend in Los Angeles, Ca. Titled: â€œPortrait of a Familyâ€ the well attended event featured timely and informative issues presented by Muslim leaders and scholars.
A bazaar within the convention area provided an opportunity for attendees to purchase Islamic goods and to learn about Islamic organizations. It also provided an opportunity for people to fraternize and to discuss sessions they had attended.
The convention featured Main Sessions and Parallel sessions with some presentations intended for Muslim youth.
The panels dealt with such topics as: â€œEmpty Nest, Not Empty Lifeâ€; â€œFamily: The Heart of the Muslim Ummahâ€, and â€œGet Involved: Muslim Americans for Palestine (MAP)â€.
â€œI feel that many of my questions about family situations have been answeredâ€ said one young woman after the early morning session.
The invited presenters were truly a cross section of respected and informed Muslim leaders. These included Dr. Maher Hathout, Hussam Ayloush, Reem Salahi, Dr. Jamal Badawi, Shakeel Syed, and Sheik Safwat Morsy.
A secondary topic of the Convention, one that was truly a logical segue from the concept of family that dominated the Convention, was the Palestinian cause. In the words of one presenter â€œOur Ummah is like one body. When one part aches, the entire body achesâ€. These three presentations introduced a group called Muslim Americans for Palestine (MAP), a Muslim American Society youth based project which began in August 2009. MAP has three primary objectives for the Palestinian cause: 1)To inform the public of the true story – the true history – of Palestine; 2)To empower the Muslim community to revive and recognize the Islamic value of Palestine, and 3)To preserve the glorious Islamic heritage of Palestine.
There were three panels that covered the subject of Palestine and MAP. During the first panel Reem Salahi, an attorney who has twice visited Gaza in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead, told of her experiences. Ms Salahi speaks Arabic and showed pictures that she had taken, so her experiences were truly first hand and not filtered. In February 2009 Ms Salahi went to Gaza in the immediate days following Israelâ€™s attack as part of a National Lawyers Guild (NLG) delegation to investigate possible Israeli war crimes and violations of the basic norms of accepted international behavior. The delegation found Israel in total non compliance. Ms Salahi spoke of â€œwhite flag murdersâ€, that is the murder by Israelis of innocent civilians whom they had ordered out of their homes and who had complied and exited waving white flags. In at least six incidents the Israelis shot them in cold blood.
Toward the end of the panel Ms Salahi placed an overseas telephone call to Dr. Nafiz Abu Shaaban at his office in a Gaza hospital. Over a Speakerphone Dr. Shaaban told of chilling experiences that he and other Gazan medical personal had been privy to. He told of people who entered the hospital with White Phosphorus burns and of how these burns, rather than being extinguished, continued to burn as long a there was flesh to destroy. Finally medical personnel called in from Lebanon were able to treat these patients, the Israelis having introduced White Phosphorus to Lebanon during their recent war.
As the convention ended, people who had attend one or more of these sessions spoke enthusiastically about working with MAP and taking back Palestine.
â€œI never realized how bad things were. I am glad these sessions brought the truth homeâ€ said one young man of apparent high school age.
Participants at the bazaar included, but were not limited to: CAIR, ACCESS, Islamic Relief, and Helping Hand. Helping Hand is a humanitarian organization that sends relief teams to all parts of the world when a crisis ensues. Their motto is: No Borders, No Boundaries. They may be accessed at: www.helpinghandonline.org.
The Muslim American Society may be traced to its ancestral roots to the call of the Prophet Mohammed (s). Its modern roots are traceable to the Islamic revival movement at the turn of the 20th century. The revival was intended to re-establish Islam as a total way of life.
The Muslim American Society may be accessed at: www.masnet.org. The local Los Angeles chapter may be accessed at:: www.mas-la.org.