My Trip to Muslim Congress 2016 | Shaykh Hamid Waqar
Despite the long hike from Sydney to Detroit, it was an absolute pleasure to participate in the Muslim Congress this year. The highlight of the trip was catching up with all of my friends and scholars who came from around the country to Dearborn. It was a busy weekend, starting with a basketball tournament, two lectures, and question and answers with the youth all the way to fajr prayers.
The group of scholars that participate in the Muslim congress are amazing. I had the chance to catch up with my dear friends, Sh Usama Abdul Ghani, Sh Amin Rastani, Sayyid Abbas Ayleya, Sayyid Abuzar Wahedi, Sh Mirza Abbas, and many of the students of Qum. This was really a blessing. I also had the chance to meet with many of my friends from the Los Angeles, Seattle, and Houston communities, and meet many brothers and sisters that I only knew on Facebook before the trip.
I arrived on Friday and, after putting my bags in my room I headed straight to HYPE basketball gym for the annual 3-on-3 tournament. I was put on the team with a few awesome teenagers and we did good, won 3 and lost 2. Regardless of the outcome, it was a great time playing against some of the scholars, especially Sh. Usama Abdul Ghani and Sayyid Ali Jafri.
The first lecture I gave was in the morning of the conference about Islamic government. I explored the purpose of the Islamic government being creating an atmosphere conducive to reform and happiness which enables one to worship God. I then concentrated on the construct of happiness showing how obedience leads to happiness. The following is a relevant article which was referred to in the speech: Proper Hijab Correlates with Psychological Wellbeing
Later I co-chaired a seminar with Sh Usama about fostering diversity in the community. This was an excellent experience. After brief introductions about fostering brotherhood and consequences of forming cliques within the community, we had the chance to listen to the experiences of the brothers and sisters. Many of the brothers and sisters spoke of difficulties various instances of racism and inclusiveness that they had to endure in the various centres around the nation. At the end, possible solutions were presented, for instance organising joint programs with the purpose of intruding like-minded youth of different cultures to each other.
There were many programs held over the weekend. For instance, Sayyid Wahidi, Sh Amin, and sister Fatima Meghi conducted a seminar detailing how to establish a relationship with the Quran, Sh Amin and Sh Hussaini conducted a seminar about Islamic unity, Sayyid Abbas Ayleya had a lecture about Imam Mahdi (a), etc. One of the most interesting programs was a town hall meeting where Sh Muhammad Baig hosted Sayyid Ayleya, brother Dawud Walid of CAIR, Medea Benjamin of Code Pink, and Kevin Barrett. I was impressed by the passion and wisdom of the panel who stressed the importance of social activism. One of the key phrases that I remember from that panel was “justice is not just us” – Dawud Walid. Unfortunately I missed the poetry slam, which I heard when well.
Finally, what really put the cherry on top of the conference was the conversations I had with all of the brothers and sisters of the community. I talked with a brother who is thinking of converting. Discussions with students of the promising howza in Chicago run by Sayyid Sulayman and Sh Rizwan Arastu were very interesting. These students are strong academically and spoke highly of the curriculum and atmosphere of the howza. In my humble opinion, this is a very promising institution. Some of the brothers decided to take me out to a sushi bar, which ended up having argili as well. I thought that was a strange combination, but the company of the brothers was beautiful. The late night discussions that I had with the youth were great and made me feel welcomed.
Hopefully I get to participate in this conference in future years!