Finding Strength in Our Growing Community |

Finding Strength in Our Growing Community

Over the Memorial Day weekend, Muslims from up and down the East Coast of the U.S. descended on Baltimore, Maryland, for the 49th Annual ICNA-MAS Convention. Boasted by the event’s organizers as one of the largest gatherings of Muslims in North America, the convention featured 100 speakers like crowd favorites Shaykhs Dr. Yasir Qadi, Dr. Omar Suleiman, Yasir Birjas, Abdul Nasir Jangda, Abdullah Oduro, Siraj Wahaj, Yasmin Mogahed, Iesha Prime, and many more. Over 160 sessions were spread throughout the four-day weekend, giving convention goers opportunities to gain knowledge and understanding, build career skills, gather community organizing strategies, and share insights on contemporary challenges facing Muslim families in North America. Special sessions on Palestine bore witness to the atrocities, separated truth from falsehoods, and challenged listeners to actively raise voices of protest. 

There were lively competitions for all ages - Quran recitation, a poetry slam, a hack-a-thon for youth and professionals, a debate contest, and late-night basketball tournament. There was a career fair, a free health fair, legal clinic, street dawah activity, entertainment, and even a matrimonial event.

It was a busy, busy weekend with days filled from morning into the night. In between sessions, participants perused a huge bazaar featuring over 500 vendors selling clothing for adults and children, books and education resources, home decor and beautiful artwork, halal personal care items, vitamins, and cosmetics, children’s toys, and novelty items. And there was halal food, inside the convention center and outside in food trucks. 

There was also lots of information provided by Islamic institutions, schools, masajids and community centers, advocacy and relief organizations, many which were also soliciting donations. The Sound Vision Foundation had three of those booths - one devoted to Muslim Network TV, one representing Justice For All, and one providing details about Sound Vision online children’s programming and parenting newsletter. 

Those who came to participate, those who came to work and show their wares, those who were part of the event organizers took away from the convention a wide range of tangibles and intangibles. Some were productive, some were frustrations, but there were few who left the area without marveling at the incredible strength that came to our hearts and souls from being amidst a sea of diverse Muslims on all sides – young and old, from various ethnic and racial groups, from all walks of life, from different parts of the country – the feeling of strength in numbers. And it was all right here in America. 

The strength in proximity is empowering. But imagine the potential if we worked together like one body – loving and supporting our families, attending to the critical needs of the poor and displaced, taking care of the natural environment like we considered it a blessing, protecting the rights and dignity of our brothers and sisters who are victims of genocide in Palestine, Sudan, Yemen, the Congo, and beyond, and spreading the light of our deen with extraordinary good character. That would exponentially empower us to make a real difference in our neighborhoods, local communities, nations, and the world. And those pursuits are worthy of our time and attention.

May Allah SWT help us to draw together as one ummah, to enjoin good and forbid evil, to spread the message of truth across this land, and to strengthen the bonds between us to do the hard work that is needed. Ameen.

Photo Caption: Zahirah Lynn Eppard, Sound Vision Foundation’s Director of Education, invites a young participate to declare she is “Happy to be a Muslim.” Hundreds joined in and also received a wristband with the same affirmation.

Zahirah Lynn Eppard is the managing editor of the Muslim Home parenting newsletter project. As Sound Vision’s Director of Education, she has also spearheaded the production of more than 500 online classes serving children ages 3-12 in the Adam’s World and Colors of Islam Clubs. Eppard has also worked in the field of education as a teacher, homeschooler, and Islamic school principal, as a marriage and crisis intervention counselor, and as a lobbyist and social justice activist. She lives with her husband, children, and grandchildren in Maryland..


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