Anaheim, California (March 19, 2012) – As heavy rain and wind pounded the Orange County area on Saturday morning, over 750 eager Muslims flocked to the Anaheim Crowne Plaza for Chain of Hearts, the first annual Young Muslims Southern California youth conference.
A recent study on the American mosque revealed that Southern California has the most number of mosques in the United States after New York City. A bustling region with a large Muslim population, it served as the perfect backdrop for a conference on reviving the youth.
Organized with ICNA Southern California, the youth conference featured speakers such as Nouman Ali Khan, founder and CEO of Bayyinah Institute, Sh. Omar Suleiman, member of ICNA’s Shariah Council and ICNA’s Institute of Learning Foundation (ILF), and Yasmin Mogahed, writer for various publications including the Huffington Post and SuhaibWebb.com. Wisam Sharieff of Bayyinah Institute and Salam Al-Marayati, President of MPAC, rounded out the speakers at the event.
The conference explored topics ranging from the impact of youth on today’s society and the relationship between parents and their children to the protecting of one’s soul against desires. A panel discussion answered questions posed by the attendees on various issues related to youth and Islam in America.
The sold out crowd was also treated to entertainment by comedian Baba Ali as well as a skit by Young Muslims of the Islamic Center of South Bay and spoken word by local artists.
“There is a huge necessity for youth activism in these critical times for Muslims and this conference is a first step towards starting this,” said Salman Syed, President of ICNA Southern California Chapter. “Volunteers and organizers worked countless hours over several weeks to pull off the conference; it was their first time hosting an event at such a large scale.”
“The YM Youth Conference was an uplifting, memorable, and fantastic event that gave the opportunity to join the hearts of youth, parents, and elders of the Southern California Muslim community” said Anees Rehman, YM Coordinator of Southern California Unit.
Zainab Arain, a student at UCLA, thought the conference was a huge success. “It was extremely beneficial because the speakers covered topics that were relevant to the youth while also discussing the importance of the family unit as a whole. They were really able to engage the audience and speak to their major concerns. I’m leaving this conference with a great sense of renewal and direction and really looking forward to more.”
Californians can be sure to count on similar events from Young Muslims and ICNA in the future. With the first Southern California youth conference under their belts, the organizations plan to expand their efforts next year and promise there is much more to come.