In September 4-7, 2015, the 52nd annual ISNA (Islamic Society of North America) took place in Chicago, Illinois. It brings together Imams and community leaders from America and across the globe to highlight and resolve key issues facing the Muslim community.
Imams Online was pleased to be invited to the convention to cover the event and showcase the excellent work of Imams and Scholars from the United States. We were honoured to meet the president and secretary general of ISNA; Azhar Azeez & Hazem Bata for one on one interviews discussing the history of ISNA and its future plans.
The scale of activity at ISNA is unmatched, but the level of top scholarship participating is what makes ISNA truly great.
We were able to meet Shaykh Omar Suleiman from Bayyinah Institute in which we conducted an interview discussing four points:
- What is the role of the Imam?
- The new season of his #Inspiration series & the importance of producing good quality content.
- The importance of Imams engaging with the youth on social media
- The development and future aims of Bayyinah Institute.
Zaytuna College have recently become the first accredited Muslim college in America. They were represented at the event by Imam Zaid Shakir, one of the co-founders of the college. Throughout the weekend he was talking at various sessions, including ‘Zaytuna College: The path to accreditation’. It was therefore, a pleasure to meet him and discuss the Imams Online project and some of the work of Zaytuna.
Whilst we were travelling to Chicago for the convention, the refugee crisis escalated in Europe following the horrific images of Aylan Kurdi that went viral. ISNA had a session dedicated to the Syrian conflict with panellists ranging from community activists to those who had suffered in the war. One of these community activists was Suzanne Akhras from the Syrian Community Network in Chicago. We were fortunate to meet her and discuss in detail her views on the refugee crisis but most importantly the role faith leadership (Imams) play in resolving and facilitating aid efforts.
A key discussion being had throughout panel discussions at ISNA were around the concerns of rising Islamophobia in both the USA and the wider Western world and the role the media plays in both fuelling and counteracting it. These panels were headed by the likes of Mehdi Hasan and Wajahat Ali who emphasised the importance of Muslim participation in the debate and the advantage of being trained in specific media orientated skills.
To conclude, Imams Online was honoured to be a part of ISNA 52, we will continue to promote the positive work of Muslim leaders from America and beyond. We pray for the success of ISNA and those who work hard in gathering so many Muslim leaders together to discuss and resolve key issues facing the Muslim community.