Annual ICNA Convention Draws More Than 3,000

By M, M. | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, November 3, 1997 | Go to article overview

Annual ICNA Convention Draws More Than 3,000


M, M., Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


Annual ICNA Convention Draws More than 3,000

According to its organizers, the 22nd annual convention of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) held in Pittsburgh, PA over the July 4 weekend was attended by between 3,000 and 4,000 people. A random survey of delegates by the Washington Report revealed that all conferees spoke English, most spoke Urdu and some spoke Arabic. All deliberations were in English.

The theme of the convention, "Win Duniyah, Win Aakhirah" ("Win Here, Win in the Hereafter"), symbolized the awareness, if not actual discomfort, of at least a section of the Muslim population that is growing up in capitalist (read materialist) America. The challenges that flow from the decision by Muslim immigrants to make their homes in North America were the principal topics of discussion, and word went out in almost every session of the three-day convention that "bridges have to be built" between Muslims and adherents of other religions in America without making any compromises on fundamental beliefs.

While not minimizing the inherent risks to Muslims, especially for the coming generations, speakers nonetheless emphasized the need for opening up America's mosques and community centers to non-Muslims. Setting the tone of the convention, ICNA president Dr. Mohammed Yunus urged that Muslims close ranks and recognize that thisis not the "promised land," but is instead a "land of promises" that affords an opportunity for Muslims to grow and spread the word of Allah.

In keeping with Islamic tradition, separate sessions were arranged for women within Pittsburgh's David Lawrence Convention Center, where the convention was held. Similarly, separate meetings were organized for the youth.

However, participants met together in assigned areas during the general sessions. ICNA is known for its strict adherence to the word and spirit of Islam and its conservatism was visible during the meetings.

As in previous years, ICNA drew its members mostly from the East Coast and Canada. A heartening sign of increasing unity among North American Muslims was the participation of Dr. Muzzamil Siddiqui, president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), former ISNA president Dr. Abdullah Idrees, and also a strong contingent of African-American leaders who included Imam Plemon Al Amin representing the Ministry of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, Imam Jamil Al Amin from Atlanta, Imam Seeraj Wahaj from New York and Imam Khalid Griggs, chief editor of The Message, the ICNA publication.

While ICNA has given out a call to build bridges between "here" and "hereafter," there are-more than cosmetic issues that separate groups within the American Muslim community. …

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