August 29 – September 1, 2008
Columbus, Ohio – Shaaban 29 1429/ August 30, 2008 – Tens of thousands of Muslims from across the US and Canada came together in Columbus, Ohio to attend the 45th annual convention of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) which kicked off yesterday. Delegates resumed deliberations on the second day of the three-day event today about a number of key issues such as spirituality, community service, economic development, family, Islamic banking and outreach. The convention is themed “Ramadan…a Time for Change.”
Renowned scholars like Jamal Badawi and Hamza Yusuf and Zaid Shaker, politicians like Congressman Keith Ellison, academics like Dr. John Esposito and businessmen like Dr. Yaqub Mirza are addressing the meet. The convention also features a bazaar with more than 500 booths, a matrimonial banquet, an Islamic art exhibit, a film festival as well as a Qur’an recitation competition. ISNA will organize tomorrow evening what is tipped to be the largest Taraweeh prayer in American history, led by Sheikh Abdul Kareem Edghouch.
America is home to between six to seven million Muslims making up less than three percent of the 300-million population. Dr. Robert Dickson Crane, a prominent Muslim scholar and America’s first Muslim ambassador under President Ronald Reagan, agrees the convention theme reflects a need for change in Muslim thinking to address contemporary issues of conscience. “The task of ISNA and Muslims in America is to help their fellow Americans change the world by promoting peace, prosperity and freedom through compassionate justice,” he told IslamOnline.net.
ISNA, which is the largest umbrella organization for Muslims in America, represents several other groups, such as the Muslim Student Association (MSA), and hundreds of mosques in the US and Canada. It has been a valuable agent for change for almost three decades. ISNA President, Ingrid Mattson, reflects the change in contemporary Muslim thinking. She is the first women, first convert and first North American-born person to head such a major Islamic organization.
Dr. Crane, who has been attending the convention since the early 1980s, praised the role played by its organizer. “ISNA has played an invaluable role in helping Muslims of all different ethnicities and schools of thought integrate into American society so that they can better join the best of Islam with the best of America in order to secure a better future for the world.