American-Muslims Talks National Agenda
Tri State Muslim (www.TriStateMuslims.com)
More than 2500 American Muslims turned out to MANA’s 2nd Annual Conference on Thanksgiving weekend, Friday, November 28 to Sunday, November 30, 2008 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in downtown Philadelphia. This year’s theme was “Forging an American Muslim Agenda.”
Building upon the success of last year’s conference, MANA’s 2008 Conference was again a working conference, discussing a national agenda to address the needs and concerns of Muslims in America. Discussion on specific areas of race and ethnicity, youth development, healthy marriage, community reentry, and social services took take place; along with discussions on the development of education, health, masjid development, Islamic training and economic development. MANA’s agenda-driven style was very evident in the main sessions, worksops and media activities.
MANA’s 2008 Conference broadened the circle of participation with a large number of young adults and women; and increasing the involvement of Hispanic, immigrant and second-generation Muslims. The attendees heard from wellknown leaders such as Imam Siraj Wahaj, Dr.Ingrid Mattson, Imam Zaid Shakir, Shaikh Abullah Hakim-Quick, Sh. Yasir Qadhi, Dr. Sherman Jackson, Imam Qasim Ahmed, and many others.
MANA is focused on the issues of the indigenous Muslim community, while seeking the suport and involvement of all Muslims to tackle successfully these concerns. Many of the speakers agreed that the issues of the indigenous community are similar in all other communities so it is important that there be networking and collaboration to address the concerns collectively.
An enlightening and exciting Awards Banquet was held on Saturday night as part of the MANA’s 2008 Conference. The keynote address was given by Dr. S. Abd al-Hakim Jackson, Professor of Islamic Studies (U. of Michigan), one of the leading Muslim thinkers in America today. Imam Siraj Wahhaj, Amir of MANA, gave the Amir’s Address, setting down the vision and future of MANA. Entertainment was supplied by Amir Sulaiman and Lisa Garza, both HBO Def Poets and acclaimed artists of the spoken word; Progress Theater of Atlanta also performed mixing their unique blend of theater and spoken word.
At the Banquet, The Lifetime Service Award was given to Muhammad Ali and his wife Lonnie Ali, and the award was accepted by a son of the great Muslim boxer and world ambassador. The Community Service Awards was given this year to Saafir Rabb and Tayyibah Taylor. Saafir Rabb of Baltimore has led one of the most successful projects of community activism and upliftment in America, rejuvenating a section of Baltimore. Tayyibah Taylor is the co-founder and editor of Azizah, the successful women’s magazine that set a high standard of Islamic content and design.
“Companionships” a marriage matchmaking session, was also planned as part of the Conference. The event that provided a dignified platform for single Muslims to meet and be introduced to matrimonial education from an Islamic prospective. It was presented by “Companionships” founders: Imam Mohamed Majid, Imam of ADAMS Center and his wife, Amaarah Decuir, Islamic School Principal. Not surprisingly, it was a well attended workshop.
No convention is complete without a bazaar, more than 100 vendors and companies were part of the MANA Conference bazaar.
The MANA Conference is undoubtedly one of the very few Conferences that is grounded in real issues that affects American Muslims. In this regard it was very functional once the participant and leaders can go beyond the talk. Much of the discussion was intended to heal the 50 year old divided between the American Muslims while working with immigrant and second generation Muslims to build an agenda that serves Muslims in America.