While these are great places to learn more about Islam, network and meet other Muslims, Muslim conferences also have their share of etiquette problems.
That’s why we’ve come up with a comprehensive guide of tips to help you make this convention experience go smoothly and positively.
1. Get There Early
Getting to the convention early means you can register immediately and avoid the last-minute rush of attendees.
You can also 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 alternative plans.
In addition, by coming early, you can find out what arrangements are available on site for first aid, babysitting, etc.
2. Know and Follow Conference Rules
These are made to make everyone's visit pleasant and comfortable, as well as to make the job of conference organizers easier.
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.
3. Be Patient
The Prophet 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.
4. Come Early to Prayer
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.
5. Be on Time for Sessions
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.
6. Take Notes During Sessions
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 disturbed.
7. Assist Those Who Need Help
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, Muslim).
8. Be Considerate
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.
9. Turn Cell Phones Off During Lectures
This is self explanatory. Turn them off.
10. Say Salam
This is a great chance to meet new people and network, so say hello! And remember, there are specific manners for this. 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).
11. Observe Islamic Gender Etiquette in Hallways
That means, for example, men should stick to one side of the hallway, while women move to the other, so neither 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."
12. Observe General 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..." (Quran 24:31).
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).
13. Dress Comfortably
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.
14. Thank Speakers and Organizers
The Prophet said: "Whoever fails to thank a person who does a favor to him, (actually) fails to thank Allah" (Ahmad, Tirmidhi).
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.
15. Represent Islam in the best possible manner
In most cases, non-Muslims will also be staying in the hotels where Muslim conventions are taking place. Use this opportunity to represent Islam in the best way.
Also, 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 are asked.
16. Recognize and Treat Local Muslims Well
In bigger cities, don't be surprised to see Muslim cab drivers, bus boys, receptionists, etc. Greet these fellow Muslims appropriately, and spread the warmth.
17. 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.
18. 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. ( Read our article: “Shopping Tips For Conferences”) Visit the bazaar to support these businesses and stock up on gifts for Eid, as well as new selections for your library.
And of course, don't forget to visit SoundVision's booth.