|right to left from the
podium: Dr. Mohammed Mirahmadi, Shaykh Muhammad Nazim
Adil, Grand-mufti of Cyprus and worldwide leader of the
Naqshbandi tariqat, Shaykh Ahmad Tijani of Chicago,
Shaykh Hisham Kabbani, Conference Chairman, Waleed Stoute
martial artist, Shaykh Ahmad Aamir reciter for Egyptian
National TV, Mustafa, Dato Mohammed Muiz of the Malaysian
ruling party, Cheras, Shaykh Mahmoud Buheiri, qari from
As-Sayyid Shaykh Yusuf Hashem ar-Rifa'i, former minister of Kuwait and President of the Islamic World Organization, Reverend Jesse Knox II, who later took shahada, and Shaykh Yousuf Bakhour.
Shaykh Rajab Dib, Deputy Mufti of Syria and representative of His Eminence Shaykh Ahmad Kuftaro, addresses the gathered audience at the IIUC.
The spirit of unity was especially apparent at the "Peace in the Streets" session, where about 16 former gang leaders, along with the popular rap star MC Hammer, took shahada with His Eminence Shaykh Muhammad Nazim, grand-mufti of Cyprus.
From August 2nd through the 4th, some 7,000 attendees and over 125 speakers from around the globe attended the International Islamic Unity Conference, which started off with a press session on Friday morning and ended with a parade through downtown Los Angeles on Sunday evening. The conference was held in the beautiful facilities at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel.
The astonishing variety of Muslim thought presented, tantalized the audiences and was thoroughly appreciated by the vast majority of attendees, guest speakers included. Stated Shaykh Ahmad Aamir, chief reciter of Quran for Egyptian TV and Radio said,"I have attended hundreds of conferences on Islam...this was certainly the best." A number of prominent local Islamic activists were featured speakers, and those from national Islamic organizations were well-represented. A wide variety of cultural food, Islamic shops and Islamic entertainment was presented to the audience.
Nor Mohamed Yakcop of Abrar Division of the Islamic Bank of Malaysia commented,"this conference had so much variety and successful economic sessions and it was very well-organized and put together."
"The organizers of this conference did a great job by bringing together all these dignitaries from all over the world," said Dato Mohamed Muiz, son-in-law of Sultan Ahmed (Bahang) Malaysia.
As-Sayyid Shaykh Yusuf Hashem ar-Rifa'i, one of the greatest Sunni scholars from the Middle East, spoke to open the conference. His excellent talk on the blessings of keeping love and respect for the Prophet Muhammad (s) was one of the most well-received talks at the conference. He expressed for the organization of a conference in which so many scholars were present.
Shaykh Aboobacker Mohamed Musliyar, president of the Sunni Scholars of India, said"since many years I did not attend such a succesful conference, so that in these three days the excitement of the conference caused me to forget the jetlag and my 21 hour flight."
Shaykh Rajab Dib, deputy mufti of Syria, and spokesman for His Eminence Shaykh Ahmad Koftaro, said"this conference was one of the best I have ever attended. It brought brotherhood and sisterhood out in a very special way and time. The conference shed light that our religion consists of three different levels: Islam, Iman and Ihsan: Ihsan being one of the highest levels that human beings can acheive--by this I mean spirituality."
Imam Senad, Mufti for the Bosnian-American community in America, was impressed by the information that the conference provided attendees and said, "Rais al-ulama of Bosnia, Dr. Mustafa Ceric, though he could not attend, was so happy about the information given at the conference that he ordered the Bosnian newspaper to cover the events at there." Insha-Allah in the next issue we will quote more opinions of the `ulama and other attendees.
Some unique firsts acheived at this conference are still having an impact throughout the Muslim world. A resolution supporting peace and and an end to the war in Afghanistan has already had major impact in bringing the warring factions together. A resolution to establish a new Islamic educational curriculum, based on the Prophet's (s) educational methodology was received with avidity by concerned parents and teachers.
Another accomplishment of the conference was the positive interfaith dialogues which took place, as opposed to the standard antagonistic debates. Remarked Professor William Baker, President of Christians and Muslims for Peace "What a delightful and wonderful conference you have made and when are we going to have another?" reflecting a sentiment expressed by the majority of attendees. One of the conference's most exciting moments came when a Christian reverend, Jesse Knox III of Chicago, finished addressing the audience on Christianity and Islam and before leaving the podium declared his shahada and accepted Islam.
A major event occurred on Saturday night, with the launching of the International Day of the Orphan, which is expected--given the sponsorship of California's Assembly, and endorsement by a number of international organizations--to become a globally-sponsored day for recalling the plight of orphans and children in difficulty. The goals of many Muslim organizations, of promoting an impressive, attractive, peaceful image of Islam to local and national politicians was successfully accomplished at the conference. Attendees were all enthralled hearing a Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R - CA) defending the Muslim principles and causes in Afghanistan and the world as well as describing his personal experience participating in the jihad against Russia in the 1980's. Attendees were also impressed to hear the support of Islam from the representative of Afghanistan's former king, Zahir Shah.
What was perhaps most special about the conference was the presence of so many profoundly pious exemplars of Islam in the persons of the brilliant traditional scholars who attended, as well as the many modern doctors and professors. This was eminently borne out by the observance of love, respect and support that the followers of Shaykh Muhammad Nazim Adil, Shaykh Rajab Dib and Shaykh Hisham Kabbani showed their teachers.
This love and adab, essential characteristics of the Islamic attitude between student and teacher, is an element eroded or completely missing in the modern milieu of American Islam.
The conference was highly successful in revivifying the disappearing Islamic arts of tajweed, tilawat and tarteel, as several world-class Quranic reciters, including Shaykh Ahmad Aamir, main reciter on TV and radio in Egypt, opened each session of the conference with their resonant voices. Most moving too were the recitals of Islamic anashid, accompanied by the daff, by a number of superb singing groups of youth: from Bosnian refugee girls and boys, who traveled from Chicago, the 20-person Malaysian men's mawlid group, who traveled halfway around the world to sing at the conference, and the Pakistani Milad group, who traveled from Birmingham, England to appear on the stage with their lovely voices at the conference. These groups brought tears to many an eye with their melodic and lovely songs.
Bo Taylor and a group of brothers from the LA "streets" talk about "peace in the streets". After this they took shahada with His Eminence Shaykh Muhammad Nazim Adil, Grand-mufti of Cyprus.
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