Monday, January 4, 2010

MAS Tampa 3rd Annual Conference: Not Until You Change Yourself! December 19, 2009 8 am to 6 pm Held at USF Marshall Center

Asslamu Alkuim,

Alhamdulilah, the MAS conference held on December 19, 2009 was a huge success. As someone who attended, I left that night feeling very invigorated to go out there and make a change within myself. The speakers compelled us to think about issues that we are often faced with and see them from a purely Islamic perspective. For those of you who could not attend,  we have included links to both the introduction of the conference as well as an excerpt from the Gender Relations lecture. Additionally, MAS Media member Nora Zaki has complied brief notes from each lecture in the young adult program that will, inshaAllah, give you some of the benefit we all experienced on that day. Lastly,  if you scroll down towards the end of the post, we have included the MAS Media promotional video that was shown in the conclusion of the conference.

The Notes:

9am – 10 am: Role of a Muslim: Our Duty to the Muslim Community and American Society

Speakers: Imam Abdul Latif
we are the ummah wasat: the middle/balanced ummah
in order to be witnesses to be humankind, we must be examples!
our faith seems weak now, but there are glad tidings to those who are holding on
Ayman Hammous, VP of MAS
Surah Anfal states that one person can be equivalent to ten in Battle of Badr: It was never about the number but the quality of Muslims
Surah Hud, verses 116 and 117: Prohibit corruption on ALL earth, not just Muslim lands
Mecca was Muhammad’s ( saw) country and America is our country
Angel Gabriel gave the Prophet ( saw) the option to even destroy the Meccans after Taif but he refused to; instead, she he said that he wanted to guide his people
Why don’t we care about the 42 million uninsured Americans? Why don’t we care about the 22 million Americans with drug problems?
He mentioned an article that is Islamophobic with the title “A Knife in the Name of Allah” ( New York Times, I believe)

10am -- 11am: Transforming the Soul: Practical Steps for Purifying the Heart

Speaker: Imad Bayoun
the criteria for success is the soundness of the heart
One must remember the golden rule of treating people the way they would like to be treated: This rule must be followed by all Muslims
Cultural baggage has unfortunately become part of the religion, Islam
The change that comes is from the Islamic path, not cultural or anything else
The ashab were humans who had shortcomings too, so we should strive to change just like they did; Whenever a sahaba was inflicted by hardship, he would run to prayer
We have unfortunately reduced religion to fiqh, but the worship of the heart is different from the senses
How we can make our prayer better:
understanding the meaning: ‘khushu
true appreciation and a fear of God
know who you are talking to: it’s God!
the more you learn about God, the more everything changes
we are neglecting thikr, remembrance, so ponder on God’s many wonderful names
Really, close your eyes and ponder
Count the blessings of Allah swt, but if you, you won’t be able to count them all
Think and ponder about the creation of Allah, but not the self of Allah swt
Books the speaker recommends:
The Character of the Muslim by Mohammed Al Ghazali
The Way of the Seeker by Ibn Qayyim

11a – 12pm: Reflecting on the Scripture: Quranic Guidelines for the Muslim Activist

Speaker: Imad Bayoun

where do we draw the line to blind faith and rationality? (In Islam, there is no blind faith).
Our mind tells us there is a God
We need to believe in the source, the Messenger, saw
We must also acknowledge the limitations of the mind
The Qur’an is mostly a book of guidance
Knowledge comes before iman because it guarantees that what we are believing is the truth
The call to act in Islam came in the very beginning:
~ We should be achieving certain standards of worship
~ Each person has an area they can contribute to
Surah Al Muddathir: God calls for work
Surah Al Muzammil: God calls for the spiritual connection of qiyam al lail
Read the Qur’an in slow parts, segments: tarteela ترتيلًا
What was revealed in Surah Al Muzammil was not enough to do qiyam al lail, but Muhammad (saw) performed the qiyam for 2/3 of the night. SubhanAllah!
You don’t have to be a hafeez to perform qiyam al lail. Muhammad (saw) had only a few verses and still did the prayer for this long of the night
Muhammad (saw) read one verse the whole night: it was from Surah Al Imran
A person cannot say they do not know enough
Surah Muzammil was the fuel for Surah Muddathir **The work came from the beginning
What four elements must a Muslim activist have?
action: work
spiritual connection with God
connective spirit of working with groups

The surat revealed to Prophet Muhammad (saw) after the Taif incident were meant to comfort him. These were Surat Musa, Qasas, Lut, Hijr and Ibrahim, for example. This was the same path taken by others before him.
Muhammad (saw) endured hardship: A great end is not possible without hardship in the beginning
When going through hardships, don’t focus entirely on them because they will change
Look back at stories of earlier people
And remember, it doesn’t take many people to have an impact
It is a truth without exaggeration: “You are carrying this message after everyone has rejected it.” – Hassan Al Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood
Feed the heart, direct your effort and find balance
Be accommodating to others
Don’t be judgmental
Accept people for who they are

1:20 pm – 2:30 pm: Gender Relations: Working Together within Allah’s Boundaries

Speaker: Hadia Mubarak

gender relations need to be normalized, not stigmatized
the extreme has become an overly powerful sexual image: Muslim men are growing up with images of non-mahram women
the women during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (saw) were not shunned from Islamic society
Allah swt sees you even if you think no one else does
The sahaba knew the names of their women companions
Modesty is more than just hijab; The women are not the only ones wearing the burden of the hijab
A man should not approach a woman for marriage unless he is FULLY ready
Hadia Mubarak mentioned a pre-marital questionnaire by Muhammad Majid. You can ask your potential spouse questions about each other with pre-made questions.
** Just keep marriage out of Islamic work and focus on helping the Muslim community

Speaker: Ayman Hammous

don’t mix Islam with a particular culture
whatever fiqh contradicts, pick the one that is more applicable to the culture in which a society is living in
After Muhammad (saw) died, his wives still continued to talk to men about religious matters and were still modest
There is no generic fatwa applicable to all gender relations, so set up the example most relevant to a society

Speaker: Imad Bayoun

the one who created is the one who legislated
there is a modesty of knowing that God is watching
Nothing goes for free: there is some struggle and resistance
Keep in mind the goal of paradise
Book recommendations: Al Alim: a book of Muslim women – all narrations from Bukhari and Muslim about the interactions between Muslim men and women

2:30 pm – 3:30 pm Social Manners: Dealing with Non Muslims

Speaker: Imam Abdul Latif

Don’t be harsh
Remember Prophet Musa ( as) approached Pharaoh with gentle words. Look in Surah Taha
Muhammad (saw) treated the Jews with the utmost kindness and always helped people, regardless if they were Muslim or not.
We think we cannot help non Muslims, but that is very incorrect
Muhammad (saw) said: Let he who believes in Allah and the Last Day care for his neighbors

Speaker: Yousef Elyaman

We are supposed to invite all through wisdom and beautiful preaching: we aren’t doing our job
Dawah efforts:
Love the person, but hate the action
Show them the truth in your religion and they will find faults in their religion
Infidel is a Catholic word
Kafir is a person who is a believer, but rejects the truth
People are asking the same questions over and over about Islam, but we are not getting better at responding to them

4:00pm – 5:30 pm Closing Session: Progressing Towards an Ideal Community

Speaker: Hossam Al Jabri

Muslim institutions compared to other minorities are very premature
We have an opportunity now that Islam is front AND center: everyone wants to know about it
America is still trying to make up its mind about Islam, whereas Europe has already decided how they want to
We cannot isolate ourselves from society no matter how hard we try
We can and need to preserve our identity without taking the rights of others in order to inform them about Islam
We have to realize that America is our country
Muslims need to love America just as much as Prophet Muhammad (saw) loved Mecca from an Islamic perspective
An ideal community is the Medina model: Muhammad (saw) established the masjid as the center of the community and so the love of the mosque needs to be brought back to the community
The underlying point of hijra from Mecca to Medina was to worship freely: Americans have this, but are we doing so? Are we doing this right?
An ideal community is brotherhood

Speaker: Hadia Mubarak

emphasized that both genders have the responsibility to keep everyone in check
we need to evaluate the role of women in Islamic spaces
barriers in mosque are not traditional or Islamic

Speaker: Ayman Hammous

There are two types of fiqh
1. Fiqh al Jadid: New Fiqh فِق الجديد
2. Fiqh Al Qadeem: Old Fiqh فِق القديم
- We need fiqh that is relevant to the Muslim community
- We need sisters who can reach the point of writing fatawa

We hope that you found these notes beneficial. Next year we encourage you all to attend. It was really an amazing experience.


Sarah and the MAS Media Team

The links: