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On December 25th, Muslims from all over the Southeast flocked to Hilton's Atlanta Airport Hotel for the annual, 3-day Southern Islamic Convention.
Spearheaded by the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), the convention's 17th year focused on the theme Muslims for Humanity.' An impressive panel of speakers, which included Sheikh Mokhtar Maghraoui, Sheikh Abdul Nasir Jangda, Sheikh Omar Suleiman, Dr. Altaf Hussein, Imam Rafiq Mehdi, and Sheikh Monzer Taleb, expounded personal development aimed ultimately at pleasing Allah SWT but also at serving mankind.
As Sister Taqwa Qadir, an attendee of the convention each of its 17 years, noted, 'It is such a beautiful opportunity to learn.'
And learn the attendees did. Topics included repentance, parenthood, da'wa, justice, benevolence, generosity, iman, Malcolm X, Qur'an, and even drugs.
For many, the weekend's highlight was Sheikh Mokhtar Maghraoui's two-part elucidation of gratitude in Islam. Eloquently, he shed light on a rare perspective of gratefulness, as the spiritual essence of Islam. In his reorientation of audience members' perception of calamity, some were brought to tears.
Many left Dr. Altaf Hussein's discussion of volunteerism inspired to serve their communities; others loved Sheikh Abdul Nasir Jangda's explanation of a passage from Suret Al-Hadid (57:12-19), which aided his discussion of the Qur'an's transformation of multiple layers of darkness into one light.
'I am always struck by Omar Suleiman's humility and earnestness and calm, peaceful manner. He makes you just want to listen to him,' an attendee who did not want to be named told me. 'You can easily perceive his love and respect for Islam. I guess by watching him, I appreciate Islam's innate beauty.'
Parent Rashid Choudhry commented, 'What I like about this year in particular is the variety of events for youth and sisters, and the different languages.' He explained his reason for attending: 'My kids don't have a chance to interact with such a huge number of Muslims, [and the convention] is a nice family event that caters to all scopes of people. All members of the family get to have fun.'
These benefits notwithstanding, though, attending still carries with it responsibility, as Sister Taqwa Qadir observed insightfully. 'I keep coming back for Allah SWT. I'm trying my best to increase my zeal for Him, and this convention plays a part. But it's just a piece of the pie. You have to implement, and learning still has to go on after you leave.'
Pictures from the conference are show below: