Houstonian Corner (V9-I49)

November 29, 2007 by  


Voices Of Muslims Need to Be Heard: Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee Speaking At The 4TH MAS-ICNA Convention At Hilton Americas

The Thanksgiving Weekend brings additional joy for several Muslim families, as this is the weekend for the MAS-ICNA Convention. This year was the 4th Convention and held at the prestigious Hilton Americas Hotel and George R. Brown Convention Center in Downtown Houston. Thousands thronged the corridors of Hilton Americas to be part of the Conference themed “Living Islam in the USA: The Challenge – The Methodology – & – The Solution”. All the programs were held at Hilton Americas, while prayers were established and Middle Eastern, American and South Asian Food was served by Petra and Shahnai Restaurants at George R. Brown Convention Center. There was an excellent and extensive Cultural and Muslim Merchandize and Vendors Bazaar organized at the Hilton Americas Hotel.

The Conference got inaugurated with opening speeches by Sheikh Hesham Ebaid (President MAS-Houston) and Rodwan Saleh (President of Islamic Society of Greater Houston – ISGH). “Without doubt, the circumstances under which Muslims in the United States live are different from those in other parts of the world. We live in a time and place, where some question the peaceful nature of Islam. This, the challenge of living Islam becomes even greater. The challenge of preserving our children’s identity, for example, is much more difficult than at any other time. This two-&-a-half days conference eventually dealt with these and many other relevant questions and hopefully many of the queries got answered and now need to be practices until we meet again next year InshaAllah for our Fifth Conference”.

This 4th MAS-ICNA Conference was also unique in this sense that two Honorable Congresspersons AL Green and Sheila Jackson Lee gave their passionate speeches, while Congressional Officer fro Congressman Nick Lampson Office came to give the Certificate of Proclamation. Honorable AL Green emphasized upon Muslims to outreach more by regular contact and communication with media and communities at grassroots levels, as Muslims have solutions to various issues. He gave special presentation to youth.

Answering answers of the young ones’, Honorable AL-Green said: “What it takes to be a Congressman: Love for Humanity and Service to Mankind – What kind of policies I can make for Muslim Youth: The best policy for Muslim Youth is the policy for all the Youth in the Communities, since everyone lives around each other and dependent on each other at certain levels – All the youth together can come together and make positive policies for all”.

Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee, who traveled into Houston late at night on the last evening of the Conference, called in that Conference should not close as she would feel bad missing such an important Conference of her constituents. She did not even get her luggage and reached the conference without that. She gave a most fervent and strong speech, saying America is going through another phase of improving herself after the civil war, right to vote, civil rights and so on: Now it is time for the Muslims to step up and have their voices heard to keep moving USA towards the promised garden mentioned by Martin Luther King in his last speech one night before he got killed. She promised that she will be in Annapolis as an observer for the Middle Eastern Summit and said the problems being faced by people of Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon will get resolved soon. “Muslims have given Americans another chance to look at what are the responsibility of a family unit to the society, how to keep harmonious family ties and at the same time remain be civically involved”: Honorable Sheila Jackson added.

Magnitude of the 4th MAS-ICNA Conference can be grasped from the fact that at one stage, there were seven parallel sessions happening at the same time for persons of all ages. Some of the topics included: “Sharee’ah 101: Islamic Jurisprudence in the American Context” – “American Social Agenda” – “Interest Bearing Transactions in the USA” – “Lessons From Muslims in Spain” – “Muslims Roles and Responsibilities: Road to 2008 Presidential Elections” – “Interfaith: Waging a Successful Interfaith campaign: The Katy-Texas Model” – “The Beauty & Spirituality of Marriage” – “Talk Show: This is Alien Talk” – “Teens Talk: Civil Rights – Do I Have Any” – “As American As Apple Pie” – and many more. CDs for these presentations can be received by requesting at www.MASHouston.Org

Within the main theme of the conference, which was “Living Islam in the USA”, detailed sessions were held. There are many assumptions, which were analyzed, including implementing Islam the same way in USA as we may implement let’s say in Middle East. Then what model(s) should be adopted by the Muslim Community living in USA. There are mainly three of them: Assimilation – Isolation – Or – Integration. Isolation Model was used in the past and has proved to be a big failure. “Integration” has been considered a better approach, since using this way Muslims do not have to loose their identity which they may very well in assimilation case and then having a positive impact of people and communities around the Muslims. The challenges of maintaining the Muslim Identity was discussed in a separate sessions and this segment was especially for young female Muslims as well as other youth.

Another significant thing that happened was that Representatives of about twelve Muslim organizations came together and shared their Future Visions and Year 2008 projects with each other and see how everyone can assist and participate in those programs. It was decided that such dialogue should continue, so as to cultivate an atmosphere of collaboration rather than competitiveness’.

During each of the three evenings, the last one to two hours of Conference Program included clean Muslim Entertainment, including Nasheeds, Muslim Comedy and Stage Show about the Life of Messenger Mohammad (PBUh) called “Mercy Unto Mankind”.

Speaking at the concluding session, Dr. Souheil Ghannouchi, Executive Director of MAS, applauded the efforts of the conference organizers and said that what American Muslims need is understanding and commitment towards their religion, which would result in actions by the Muslim community, which would have most positive impact of the American society at-large: And that this conference has provided all of this.

For more information about Muslim American Society Houston activities, visit MAS Community Center at 6226 Highway 6 South – Houston – Texas 77083 or Call 281.530.4MAS(4627) or Visit www.MASHouston.Org For ICNA-Houston, Visit www.TheElementsOfFaith.Com or Call 832-275-0786.

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