by Sound Vision Staff Writer
Here are some ways you can make the
most of the convention you'll be attending this long weekend. These
tips can apply to the Islamic Society of North America's (ISNA), the
Mosque Cares Annual Convention or any other similar conference.
Tip #1: Attend workshops instead
Workshops are better because:
Another advantage of workshops is that
they are often specialized to a given field or topic. So if you are
a social worker, you can meet with others in your field which you could
not do in a general session with a large audience and broad subject
Tip #2: Take lots of notes
Make yourself the unofficial
recorder of the conference in your Muslim community. In other words,
take notes for the brothers and sisters who were not able to attend.
Listen attentively and put the
presentations in your own words. This will help you absorb the information
better than if you try to write everything down verbatim.
Tip #3: Write something about
When you’re at the conference, try
your hand at writing short articles for your local community’s newsletter,
the local paper or your youth newsletter about different sessions at
Better yet, see if you can find
some representatives of Muslim magazines, newspapers and websites at
the conference and ask if they will publish what you’ve written. This
could be your first step towards a career in journalism!
Tip #4: Diversify your clique
While conventions are often the
place to meet the friends you’ve been calling or e-mailing for months,
don’t be cliquish.
If you meet a fellow Muslim during
a lecture or workshop who you really get along with, don’t let the conversation
end there. Take them out to lunch. Hang out with them. Check out the
bazaar together. You’ll make a new friend and a contact in another Muslim
Tip #5: Look out for the lonely
While many people come to conventions
with their family or friends, others do not. They may be shy and feel
out of place amid the masses. If you see a fellow Muslim alone in the
cafeteria a couple of times or in a session, don’t be afraid to approach
them and introduce yourself and make them feel more comfortable.
Tip #6: Look for an Islamic
perspective on your job or field of study
Seek out Muslims who are involved
in your profession. Muslim doctors, lawyers, social workers, journalists,
etc. will be present at many of these conferences. This is a good time
to share ideas about similar challenges and how to handle them. It’s
also a way to gain an Islamic perspective on what you do for a living
which you may have not thought of developing before. Talk to people
who are using their skills and talents to benefit Islam and the Muslim
community and see how you can do the same.
Tip #7: Talk to people in
Look for Muslims from Iraq, Afghanistan,
Sudan, Palestine, Kashmir and other places that have been in the news
lately. From them, get first-hand information about what is going on
there. You’ve heard what numerous pundits and “experts” have had to
say about these world “hot spots.” Now it’s time to find out what is
going on from a fellow Muslim who knows the country, its people and
the dilemmas and challenges of Muslims living there.
Also, check out the tables of
organizations that are dealing with these issues, as well as the booths
of relief groups working in parts of the Muslim world that which are
currently facing crises.
Tip #8: Don’t fail to do Dawa
Larger conventions, like ISNA’s,
tend to attract media attention in the city they are being held in.
They also bring Muslims more into the public eye, as beards, Kufis,
Thobes, Hijabs, Jilbabs, Shalwar Kameez, etc. become visible indicators
of an individual’s “Muslimness”.
That’s why you should not be
surprised to see locals possibly staring and maybe even gawking. A non-Muslim
cashier during the 1994 ISNA convention in Chicago asked a Muslim convention-goer,
“how many of you people are there here?!”
You should keep lots of Dawa
brochures handy as you move about the hotel, local restaurants, fast
food joints and taxis. Don’t let a terrified look or ignorant comment
discourage you from being polite, smiling, putting the person at ease
and striking up a conversation.
At the end of your conversation, hand
a Dawa brochure to them with the name and number of a local mosque where
they can seek more information.
But remember that the best Dawa
is through your actions. We can gab all we want about Islam and hand
out endless amounts of eye-catching brochures. But if we aren’t honest
and polite when paying the cabbie, or leave a mess at the restaurant
we’ve eaten dinner at, the possibility of people being interested in
Islam will be overshadowed by rude and unfair behavior.
Another tip for brochures: you
can inadvertently leave them in a place where they won’t be considered
a nuisance (i.e. hospital emergency waiting room which sometimes have
magazines to read).
But don’t give out flyers at
the convention center or hotel, as they just end up creating garbage.
Tip #9: A reminder
Follow Islamic Adab! This makes
things comfortable for everyone there, including yourself. Check out
our Convention Adab guide.