From the Exemplary Life of the Prophet to Muslim Challenges in the United States:

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Friday, March 19, 2010

From the Exemplary Life of the Prophet to Muslim Challenges in the United States:

NOTES FROM THE 2007 ISNA CONVENTION

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This year's ISNA (Islamic Society North America) Convention took place in Rosemont, Illinois in between August 31 and September 3 with the participation of 30.000 Muslims North America. Entitled "Upholding Faith, serving Humanity", the talks in the conference were addressed by some of the leading religious scholars of North America and they were structured around two main points; how Muslims should act as one united body in translating their faith into the service of humanity and how this duty can be accomplished in an environment as hostile to Islam as the United States especially in the aftermath of 9/11.


ISNA or the Islamic Society North America is one of the most powerful and significant Islamic gatherings in North America that serves as an umbrella organization sheltering eight other basic Muslim associations in the region including the Muslim Student Association represented at the universities, Muslim Youth North America, Association of Muslim Engineers and Scientists, Islamic Schools North America, Islamic Medical Association North America and Association of Pakistani Physicians of North America.

This year's ISNA Convention took place in Rosemont, Illinois in between August 31 and September 3 with the participation of 30.000 Muslims North America. Entitled "Upholding Faith, serving Humanity", the talks in the conference were addressed by some of the leading religious scholars of North America and they were structured around two main points; how Muslims should act as one united body in translating their faith into the service of humanity and how this duty can be accomplished in an environment as hostile to Islam as the United States especially in the aftermath of 9/11.

As a first step into upholding faith, there was a repeated call by speakers to the unity of Muslim African Americans and Muslim immigrants, be they Sunnis, Shiites or Sufis and to leave aside the long time discrimination to which they subjected each other. This call resounded pivotal in the context of countering the increasing challenges directed to Muslims of the United States.    

The leading examples in connecting inner faith with outward service were taken the life of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). The contexts of the United States and the time of the Prophet were likened in the sense that they were both being ruled by a majority of non-Muslims and that in addition to the gradual pace of the internalization of Islam in these geographies, Muslims faced constant interaction with the "other" and oppression in them both. The tranquility and ease with which the Prophet responded to formidable attacks targeting Islam and himself was presented as the attitude to adopt when faced with similar aggression. "When you know you can make an enemy lose their temper," noted one speaker, "you know that they are defeated". Therefore, the crucial message they all delivered was the necessity to remain calm and instead to extinguish fire with service and charity at all costs.

Specific examples the life of the Prophet covered the mercy and love he had for the entire humanity and determined how our love for him should guide us into taking him as our example and follow his path in serving humanity in every possible way. This would be the way to internalize our love for our Prophet which would in turn take us to love for Allah. In this context, there was also much emphasis placed on the place of the Prophet in our lives and how he should be centralized as our role model in upholding our faith and serving humanity.

Highlighting the good relations the Prophet maintained with non-Muslims, there was a significant emphasis in the convention on interfaith dialogue by all parties as represented in the amicable talks led by Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders. As these leaders notified the audience, the dialogues had reached an extent where some of the Christian residents of Chicago were willing to fast with Muslims on the Night of Power (Laylat al-Qadr) as a sign of gesture.

To end with a final note, together with its charismatic and influential speakers, ISNA of 2007 succeeded in gathering thousands of North American Muslims in one location for one purpose; to remind them of the necessity to strengthen their faith by directing it into service.


عَنْ أَبِي مَسْعُودٍ، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم قَالَ ‏"‏ إِذَا أَنْفَقَ الرَّجُلُ عَلَى أَهْلِهِ يَحْتَسِبُهَا فَهُوَ لَهُ صَدَقَةٌ ‏"
Narrated Abu Mas'ud: The Prophet said, "If a man spends on his family (with the intention of having a reward from Allah) sincerely for Allah's sake then it is a (kind of) alms-giving in reward for him.” (Bukhari, Belief, 41)

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