the Good, Forbidding the Evil: A Four-Step Guide for Conference-goers
by Sound Vision Staff Writer
While we may try conducting ourselves
Islamically during a convention, all of us slip up somewhere. How can
we ensure a safe and productive environment for ourselves and others at
conferences? How can we not just practice etiquette ourselves but encourage
others to do the same?. Below is a four-step guide.
Step #1: Start with ourselves
We can't tell someone to be quiet
during a lecture and then turn back and whisper to our neighbor sitting
beside us. That means we've got to know the etiquette and practice it.
If the bathroom counter is covered
in water post-mass Wudu, wipe it up, even if it isn't your mess. If this
doesn't set an example, it will at least make others realize they should
clean up after themselves and not expect other brothers and sisters to
do it for them.
Step #2: Encourage your children
to do the same
For some children, conventions
are scary, unknown places with plenty of strangers. For others, it's a
playground where they'll meet other kids.
When it comes to your children,
enjoining the good and forbidding the evil has to come before the conference,
and then it needs to be reinforced there.
That means sitting down with them
and explaining where you are going and why. You need to explain to them
that a conference is a place to learn and practice good Islamic manners.
Once you reach the convention,
never leave the kids unattended. Each child should be supervised by at
least one parent or trusted family member. Kids can only learn Islamic
etiquette when they see mom and dad giving up a space in the elevator
for an elderly or wheelchair-bound Muslim. They can only learn to walk
on the side of the big hallways during heavy traffic when the see dad
sticking to his side and lowering his gaze while the women pass by.
As well, if kids do misbehave on
occasion, this should be dealt with gently and privately. Public displays
of discipline will only hurt and humiliate them in front of others.
Step #3: Encourage our parents
If you don't have kids, encouraging
parents and siblings to practice Islamic etiquette is still important.
Having a family meeting to discuss things like logistics, male-female
interaction, who will be in charge while traveling etc. will help reduce
conflict and be a good opportunity to talk about proper behavior.
If you do notice inappropriate
behavior at the conference, this has to be addressed in private in a gentle
manner. It cannot be done through public humiliation, which will lead
to bitterness and spoiling the trip for the whole family.
Step #4: Encourage strangers
This one is tough. How can we enjoin
the good and forbid the evil with Muslims we have never met before without
judging and hurting feelings?
First, we should make excuses for
a brother or sister whose behavior is not in line with Islamic guidelines
or is disrupting others. Assume they don't know. Maybe they are new Muslims
and this is their first conference. The last thing we would want to do
is scare them away with harshness. Or maybe the person has just started
to become a more practicing Muslim and is attending his or her first conference.
Second, if step one has been followed,
it will be easier to be sympathetic and kind to the brother or sister
who may be doing something incorrect.
Third, the criticism should be
done privately, not in front of others, which leads to public humiliation.
One of the worst things we can do is turn a Muslim away from Islamic events
by harsh behavior.
Here's one way to handle a common
situation: someone talking in the middle of a session. Instead of serving
up dirty looks or harsh words, try two things.
First, write a note to the moderator
asking him or her to remind the audience to remain silent during session.
If this is not possible, you can
write a short note yourself, but avoid distracting others when passing
it to the person(s) who is talking. It could read as follows:
Assalamu alaykum. My name is
Sr/Br. (your name). I've come all the way from (your city or state or
country) to this conference to learn from the speakers. But I cannot
concentrate on the lecture right now. Can I ask you to please talk to
your neighbor after the lecture? I would really appreciate your co-operation.
Jazak Allah. May Allah bless you.