and Dont's for convention goers
A Sound Vision Etiquette Guide:
by Sound Vision Staff Writer
Ah, Labor Day weekend-the time of conventions
galore. The Islamic Society of North America's (ISNA) and the Mosque Cares
(Imam W. D. Mohammed)'s conventions are the largest annual Muslim conferences
While these are great places to
learn more about Islam, network and meet other Muslims, they also have
their share of etiquette problems.
Observing the Do's and Don'ts of
convention etiquette listed below can make the experience more positive
for everyone attending.
Get there early
The early bird gets the worm is
not just a cliche. It's the truth. Getting to the convention early means
you can register immediately and avoid the last minute rush of attendees.
As well, you can mentally prepare
yourself for the weekend by looking over the program. If you prepared
in advance by noting sessions you want to attend, this will be a good
time to find out if there are any changes in the schedule so you can make
In addition, by coming early, you
can find out what arrangements are available on site for first aid, babysitting,
Know and follow
These are made to make everyone's
visit pleasant and comfortable, as well as to make the job of conference
Obeying the rules could mean keeping
your name tag with you at all times during the conference or following
a certain procedure to register on site. Whatever the case may be, remember
the rules were made for your benefit.
The Prophet, peace and blessings
be upon him, said: "Whenever a Muslim is afflicted by any hardship, whether
it be chronic sickness, anxiety, grief, harm, a disaster, or even a thorn-prick,
Allah wipes out some of his minor sins" (Bukhari, Muslim).
Patience must be practiced because
you will most probably be with hundreds, if not thousands of people from
different places and different backgrounds. You will need this patience
in the dining halls, getting to and fro in hallways, and with people who
talk and disturb others during sessions, for example.
Use this as an opportunity to train for
the patience you'll need at Hajj.
Come early to
Coming early will ensure you have
a place to pray. Put your shoes where designated by organizers, or if
there is no such arrangement, bring a plastic bag for them and keep them
with you during prayers.
Be on time for
You will benefit by catching the
full lecture, getting the handouts, if any, so you can follow along with
the speaker, and you also get the best choice of seats. Not to mention
that punctuality is part of good Muslim manners.
Take notes during
Save questions for after lectures
unless the speaker indicates otherwise.
Leave as quietly as possible during
lectures if necessary.
Avoid pushing back chairs, shuffling
papers and slamming doors loudly so that others are not distracted or
Assist those who
The Prophet said: "A Muslim is
a Muslim's brother: he should not wrong him, nor hand him over to his
enemy. He who relieves the need of a Muslim will find that Allah relieves
his own needs. And he who eases the trouble of a Muslim will find that
Allah relieves his own needs. And he who eases the trouble of a Muslim
will have one of his troubles eased by Allah on the Day of Arising" (Bukhari,
can mean different things.
For example, help a brother or
sister who is disabled get around if they are having difficulty; assist
a mom bring her stroller-bound child down the stairs; offer seats to the
elderly. And don't forget to give them priority in elevators and/or escalators.
In emergency situations,
it could also mean contacting first aid on site.
Or it could simply mean holding
doors for others or offering a seat to someone who needs it more than
Try to make things easier for others.
For example, if you are staying in the same hotel where the convention
is taking place, try to make Wudu in your hotel room instead of relying
on bathrooms nearby. This way more people can have access to washrooms
to make their Wudu on time for prayer.
Turn cell phones
and pagers off during lectures
This applies to all Muslims, as
the Prophet has said, "You should provide food, and greet both those you
know and those you do not" (Bukhari, Muslim).
There are also specific manners
for this, as the Prophet described in a Hadith narrated by Abu Huraira,
"a young person should greet someone who is older, a pedestrian should
greet someone who is sitting down, and a small group should greet a large
one" (Bukhari, Muslim).
male-female etiquette in hallways.
That means, for example, men should
stick to one side of the hallway, while women move to the other, so neither
sex feels uncomfortable.
One rule to follow is outlined
in this Hadith in Masnad: "Graceful is that man who walks with dignity,
keeps his eyes down, keeps his voice low, does not look here and there
(as bad manner) all these are parts of gracefulness and respectability."
rules of modesty
"Tell the believing men to lower
their gaze and be modest. That is purer for them. Lo! Allah is aware of
what they do" (Quran 24:30).
"And tell the believing women to
lower their gaze and be modest, and to display of their adornment only
that which is apparent, and to draw their veils over their bosoms..."
With regards to looking at the
opposite sex, the Prophet advised: "Do not look for a second time, for
while you are not to blame for the first glance you have no right to the
second" (Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud).
Dress for the occasion: comfortably,
and taking into account your environment and the purpose of your attendance
at the convention-to seek knowledge and network for the sake of Allah.
The Prophet said: "Whoever fails
to thank a person who does a favor to him, (actually) fails to thank Allah"
Thanking speakers and organizers
will provide them the encouragement and support, as well as assurance
that their hard work was worth it. Too often, Muslims are busy cutting
each other down instead of appreciating the good work being done by many
brothers and sisters.
In most cases, non-Muslims will
also be staying in the hotels where Muslim conventions are taking place.
Use this opportunity to make Dawa.
Bring some Dawa pamphlets from home. Or if that is not possible, on the
first day (see, another advantage of coming early) check out the booths
already set up. You can probably find free Islamic literature. Pass it
on to others at the hotel.
treat local Muslims well
In bigger cities, don't be surprised
to see Muslim cab driver, bus boys, receptionists, etc. Greet these fellow
Muslims appropriately, and spread the warmth.
While most conference attendees
will be Muslim, there will be some non-Muslims attending as well. Go out
of your way to welcome them, treat them with the same courtesy and respect
you'd treat fellow Muslims, and be available to answer questions if you
Be an ambassador
for Muslim unity
When you meet a Muslim leader at
the conference, go out of your way to say Salam, thank them for their
hard work, and ask them what they are doing for the cause of Muslim unity.
Also, make Dua for unity during the daily prayers, which you should try
to attend in congregation at the conference.
Visit the bazaar
Muslim businesses spend thousands of dollars to display their
wares and offer you a fantastic selection of books, videos, DVDs, CDs,
gifts, clothes and much more. Visit the bazaar to support these
businesses and stock up on gifts for Eid, as well as new selections for
And of course, don't forget to visit
Don't talk during
While socializing with other Muslims
is definitely a part of a Muslim convention, it is not proper Adab (etiquette)
to be doing this during lectures and sessions.
Remember, there are brothers and
sisters who have traveled miles to not just meet others, but to learn
about Islam. Don't ruin this opportunity for them.
Don't eat during
This is also a distraction and
rude to speakers. Imagine sitting in a classroom and eating there. It
would rarely be tolerated. Give the same respect to your Muslim brother
or sister who may have traveled miles to give you this fantastic session/workshop.
A special note: food includes bubble
gum. There are few things as annoying as someone popping bubbles or making
loud chewing noises during a spiritually enlightening talk.
Don't be late
to sessions and lectures.
While there are always unforeseen
circumstances where coming on time may not be possible, don't let this
become a habit.
Coming late only disturbs the speakers,
as well as others trying to pay attention.
Don't bring very
small children to sessions and workshops.
A crying child, no matter how cute,
becomes annoying to those who are trying to concentrate and learn.
See if there are baby-sitting arrangements
on site, or work out a schedule with your spouse or other family members
such that you divide your time between watching the baby and attending
sessions. Return the favor for them as well so everyone benefits from
Don't block traffic
This is a MAJOR problem. Two people
who haven't seen each other in years will suddenly meet each other and
begin a long conversation in the middle of the main hallway being used
by hundreds of others at the same time.
This is inconvenient and can be
dangerous. Solution: greet the person and move to the side of the hallway
to continue your conversation.
Don't leave any
place a mess.
That goes for the lecture halls,
workshop rooms, washrooms, your own hotel room and the cafeteria/dining
It also means not leaving candy
bar wrappers on the floor or gum on the bottom of tables or chairs and
soft drink cans everywhere.
As Muslims, we must maintain cleanliness
on our person and in our environment as the Prophet has said, "Cleanliness
is half of the religion" (Muslim).
As well, don't forget the non-Muslims
also staying at the hotel are watching what Muslims are doing. Leaving
the place a mess is not the way we want to leave a lasting impression.
Don't think "this
is not my mess"
If you're confronted with a washroom
strewn with toilet paper or a trail of soft drink cans in a conference
room or hallway, there are two things you can do.
You can ignore it, do what you've
got to do and get out of there as soon as possible.
Or you could be a good citizen
and do the charitable thing: pick it up. In part of a Hadith in Bukhari
and Muslim, the Prophet said that removing a harmful thing from the road
is a charity.
Don't waste Food
"Two persons' food is enough
for three, and three person's food is enough for four," said the Prophet
in a Hadith narrated in Bukhari and Muslim.
Before taking your food ensure
you take only as much as you can consume. If you can't finish the food
in one sitting, try to get a box or bag to pack it in. Avoid wasting at
all costs. Consider this Hadith:
"When someone eats from a vessel
and makes it wholly clean (so that no food is left in it), the vessel
prays for his forgiveness" (Ahmad, Darimi, Ibn Majah, Tirmidhi).
about the Food
It is sad but common to see Muslims
attending events complaining about the food. In most cases, convention
organizers do their best to provide sufficient and tasty meals.
If you haven't received the kind
of meal you were expecting remember that the Prophet never said he disliked
any kind of food.
Don't wear headphones
while you're in a session.
or while you are walking in the
hallways. During the sessions, this is an insult to your speaker.
In the hallways, this makes it
virtually impossible to hear crowd traffic instructions that may be given
to facilitate the movement of convention goers between sessions or to
meals, for instance.
Don't push others to get to a lecture/dinner/ workshop/meeting with a
friend faster. Pushing is rude and dangerous, and it will not get you
where you want to go more quickly.
tomorrow's Muslims today!
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