The 37th Annual ICNA-MAS Convention at Hartford, CT.
Alhamdulillah the 37th Annual ICNA-MAS Convention has come to an end! Jazaakumullah khair for attending and making the weekend such a huge success.
Over 16,000 people descended on the Connecticut Convention Center for the conference this weekend, which was themed “Defending Religious Freedom, Understanding Shariah” to align with ICNA’s national educational campaign. Nearly 7,000 people also tuned in to the ad-free, crisp quality live stream at icna.org/live, which was streamed through a new partnership with YouTube. The convention received a fair amount of media coverage, including an article by the Washington Post and several other news outlets.
This year’s lineup featured over 100 speakers, who spoke to packed crowds throughout the weekend. The conference opened with messages from Dr. Zahid Bukhari and Dr. Ahmed El Bendary of ICNA and MAS, respectively, after which convention-goers attended their lectures of choice. ICNA’s main program ran alongside numerous dedicated parallel sessions including Window to Islam sessions, ICNA Sisters Wing sisters’ only sessions, MCNA workshops and the Young Muslims Annual Youth Conference, giving attendees a great pool to choose from. For the first time ICNA also offered three sessions addressing the state of civil rights and liberties in America. We even had a first-time attendee tell us that he enjoyed the convention so much this year that he’ll be coming back next year with 50 of his friends and family, InshaAllah!
We exceeded last year’s registration numbers by about 15%, and almost every hotel in the Hartford area was completely booked to accommodate our attendees. By Allah’s grace we reached the maximum capacity of our main hall twice on Saturday, and we created an overflow area for attendees to view the keynote and entertainment sessions on Sunday. The convention’s attendance has increased greatly in recent years, making it the largest national convention held by a grassroots American Muslim organization.
Imam Siraj Wahhaj fundraised this year for ICNA’s various projects and services including the Understanding Shariah Campaign, and for the first time ever we held a separate fundraiser for Young Muslims with Br. Altaf Hussain.
The Career Fair, held in the adjoining Marriott Hotel, was brought back this year and featured experts from over 27 different industries. A professional networking forum was also held for the very first time, where many came together to network with their fellow attendees in the health, engineering, IT and education fields.
Our younger attendees were treated to performances by CamAli, and enjoyed the rides and attractions set up for them at the convention center. In addition to the MCNA (Muslim Children of North America) program, there were several special sessions for the youth, including the Art of Creative Expression workshop with Zain Bhikha and a Quran Competition.
The entertainment session with comedian Omar Regan, spoken word artist Ammar Alshukry, nasheed artists Zain Bhikha, Khalil Ismail, Ahmed Bukhatir and Asim Khan was a big hit. Imam Omar Suleiman and NFL players Ryan Harris and Husain Abdullah also made a special appearance to promote the Back 2 School Giveaway, a project of ICNA Relief.
We also had an awesome bazaar with 255 comercial and information booths. Some selling a variety of items, ranging from Islamic CDs and books to ethnic clothing and Islamic art while some were for various ICNA departments and other organizations.
We hope you and your families enjoyed and benefited from this weekend. Don’t forget, all of our live-streamed sessions will be available for viewing in the upcoming weeks on ICNA TV at www.youtube.com/icna.
Please keep us in your prayers, and remember to share your highlights and quotes from the weekend with us in the below comments form, on Facebook and Twitter! See you next year, InshaAllah!
The 37th Annual ICNA-MAS Convention Team
Photography by Muhammad Tahir and others.