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35th Annual ICNA Convention | “Save Family: Save Society”




Muslim Matters would like to thank Br Nihal Khan for sharing his experience at the recently concluded 35th annual ICNA convention. If you were at the convention too or joined in via live stream for some of the talks,  share your experiences and gems below!

A few weeks ago, on Memorial Day weekend, the Islamic Center of North America (ICNA) in association with the Muslim American Society (MAS) held their 35thannual combined convention at the Hartford Convention Center in Hartford, Connecticut. Along with the conference, there was a parallel youth conference which was funded and organized by the Young Muslims of North America and the Muslim Student Association. Over 14,000 Muslims from all over the United States and Canada were in attendance for this year’s conference.

In the spirit of educating the masses about the importance of family, the organizers of the conference made this year’s theme “Save Family: Save Society.” A short list of speakers included Sh. Yasir Qadhi, Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan, Ustadh Wisam Sharieff, Sh. Abdul Nasir Jangda, Yahiya Emerick, Dr. Ingrid Mattson, Sh. Ali Sulieman, Imam Khalid Griggs, Sh. Jafer Sebkhaoui, Imam Omer Suleiman, Dr. Altaf Hussain, Dr. Talat Sultan, Sh. Yasir Fazaga, Sh. Mohammed Faqih and Imam Faraz Khan. Though the conference overall was truly a success, I personally felt that the Youth Conference which was put together by YM and MSA was the highlight of the whole convention.

This youth conference’s theme this year was “Happily Ever Hereafter?” and addressed issues pertaining to life in the grave, heaven and hell, meeting with Allah, and the like. With the efforts of the organizers from YM and MSA, almost every session in the youth conference would fill up before the session would even begin! After all the chairs would be occupied, brothers and sisters were standing, sitting on the floor, kneeling, standing by the entrance of the hall, etc. There simply would not be enough room to accommodate everyone in the hall. Not to mention that the intensive class which the organizers had put together reeled in more than 100 youth at 8am Sunday morning! But the main aspect of the youth conference which stuck out to me were the speeches delivered by Ustadh Wisam Sharieff. Though this was his first appearance at an ICNA convention, he truly “rocked the house” every time his turn came to address the audience. After every one of his speeches, attendees told me that they would love to see him back the following year and take on more sessions; and that his presence was “truly an enlightening experience.”

To add to the excitement of this year’s conference, MuslimMatters very own authors and scholars were in attendance as speakers at the conference. Shaykh Yasir Qadhi, Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan, and Shaykh AbdulNasir Jangda were the main panel speakers at all of the main sessions in the convention. Some of the authors can be seen playing in the midnight basketball tournament in the pictures below!

Overall, this year’s convention seemed lively, family-friendly, and beneficial to all those who were in attendance. I know I will be back next year…will you?

More pictures from the conference can also be viewed here.



  1. Avatar

    Arif Kabir

    June 17, 2010 at 12:38 AM

    Very nice synopsis and photo gallery – keep them coming Insha’Allah! :)

    • Avatar


      November 29, 2010 at 5:28 PM

      Dear MAS-ICNA Member:

      We are writing on behalf of our union, UNITE HERE Local 450 and Local 1 in Chicago, the union that represents Chicago hotel workers. We are writing today because the MAS/ICNA Convention is currently scheduled to take place at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare beginning December 21st, a hotel where we and our many co-workers have called for a boycott. We are asking you to move the MAS/ICNA Convention to an alternate location. Please do not meet, eat, or sleep at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare until the dispute is resolved.

      Over the last ten years, we have fought to make Chicago hospitality jobs good jobs with livable wages and family health insurance. Now Hyatt is trying to take away what we have fought for. Our contracts expired over a year ago, and since then we have seen our hours cut and endured massive layoffs. Our hotels are understaffed while our co-workers sit at home in need of work. And now Hyatt wants to freeze our wages for years and take away our good insurance.

      That is why we are making the difficult decision of asking customers like you to boycott the Hyatt Regency O’Hare and not support them with your business. We are willing to sacrifice wages and tips now to get respect and dignity in our workplace, and to ensure that our livelihoods continue to support our health and our loved ones.

      As a Muslim and as a moral person, please honor our struggle and our boycott and do not come to the MAS/ICNA Convention if it is held at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare. As a leader in the Muslim community and as a consumer, you have the power to bring this company to justice and stop it from treating its employees this way. If you have any questions, please contact Mr. Leah Pine at Unite Here Local 1 at (312) 986-3945 x226, or at


      Abdul Noorani
      Hyatt Regency Chicago, 30 years

      Mohammed I. Sozzer
      Hyatt Regency Chicago, 24 years

      Sezair Murati
      Hyatt Regency Chicago, 10 years

      Mirsad Okanovic
      Hyatt Regency Chicago, 13 years

      Taher Bhatti
      Hyatt Regency Chicago, 20 years

      Bouchra Doghmi
      Hyatt Regency Chicago, 10 years

      Muhammad Tariq
      Hyatt Regency Chicago, 14 years

      Zafar Iqbal
      Hyatt Regency Chicago, 25 years

  2. Avatar


    June 17, 2010 at 2:53 AM

    As salaam alykum,

    Alhamdulillah .. Very happy for all my Muslim brothers and sisters who arranged and participated in this Youth Conference.

    InshaAllah a lot of knowledge was gained from it… Awareness of Islam and our zeal to excel and to follow the true path toJannat – tul – Fidaus is increasing day by day .. Alhamdulillah summu Alhamdulillah ..

    Now comes the most important and most difficult (for some of us ) part … IMPLEMENTATION of what we have learnt into bringing about CHANGE in our lives …. as surely what the Prophet (SWS) told the Sahaba’s is ABSOLUTELY TRUE that the most difficult of Jihad’s is the JIHAD – un – NAFS…

    ISTIQAMAH, IKHLAS and TAQWA is what we should all strive for and InshaAllah we shall ALL meet in Jannat-tul-Firdaus in the hereafter… Ameen.

    Please include me and all our brothers and sisters all over the world in your Duas who are striving to bring back our lives to ‘mirror’ the lives of the Prophet (sws), his wives, and the Sahabas …

    JazakAllah kheir.

    Mombasa/ KENYA

    PS. Is it possible to listen to some of the talks given by the different speakers during the conference ?

  3. Avatar


    June 17, 2010 at 8:29 AM

    b-ball pics??

    and nic article, jzks

  4. Avatar

    ICNA Social Networking Team

    June 17, 2010 at 8:33 AM

    Woah, your title is completely wrong, please fix it, THIS is the 35th Annual Convention!

    • Avatar

      Ameera Khan

      June 17, 2010 at 9:55 AM

      Have edited it, JazaakAllah for the heads up. The post was received as such but we should have double checked. Will remember now on, Inshaa’Allah.

  5. Avatar


    June 17, 2010 at 9:08 AM

    Not your typical Conference. A MUST ATTEND if you’ve never been able to.

    – An intensive class at a Conference is just unheard of. Attended by hundreds.
    – A Midnight Basketball Tournament, to keep one half of the typical “lobby scenes” seen at other conferences, out of the equation.
    – And the most practical of sessions. Not just “your bad you need to do good” session.
    – A Qiraah competition to encourage the youth to come closer to the Quran.
    – Workshop sessions by Imam Omar Suleiman on getting rid of sinful habits. Br. Wisam on Lessons from Surah Yusuf, Dr. Mohammad Sadiq on Youth and Marriage, and Imam Abdul Nasir Jangda on the Role of Women (not your typical women must rule the world lecture that we have become used to hearing).

    I’m already looking forward to the one next year inshaAllah. JazakAllahu khair to the organizers.

  6. Avatar


    June 17, 2010 at 9:09 AM

    And yea this was like the 30 something Annual ICNA Convention. And the 11th time they have teamed up with MAS I believe.

  7. Avatar


    June 17, 2010 at 12:14 PM

    Wasn’t this the theme last year? I could have sworn I went to an ICNA conference in Atlanta last fall with the same one…

  8. Avatar

    abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

    June 17, 2010 at 4:03 PM

    Jazak Allah khayr, Nihal. Will see you inshaAllah later this year. Had no idea the B in B-Ball stood for Bayyinah. ;) I think the slideshow needs to play the Nike bouncing basketballs in the background, at least at the appropriate pics.


  9. Avatar


    June 18, 2010 at 2:38 AM


    MASHA ALLAH may ALLAH SWT give barakah. I am really happy about it and want to do it in PAKISTAN. Can any ody help me getting it in organizing it.


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Obituary of (Mawlana) Yusuf Sulayman Motala (1366/1946 – 1441/2019)

Monday, September 9, turned out to be a day of profound anguish and sorrow for many around the world. In the early morning hours, news of the death of Mawlana* Yusuf Sulayman Motala, fondly known as “Hazrat” (his eminence) to those who were acquainted with him, spread. He had passed away on Sunday at 8:20 pm EST in Toronto, after suffering a heart attack two weeks earlier.

Dr. Mufti Abdur Rahman ibn Yusuf Mangera



Dar Al Uloom Bury, Yusuf Sulayman Motala

A master of hadith and Qur’an. A sufi, spiritual guide and teacher to thousands. A pioneer in the establishment of a religious education system. His death reverberated through hearts and across oceans. We are all mourning the loss of a luminary who guided us through increasingly difficult times.

Monday, September 9, turned out to be a day of profound anguish and sorrow for many around the world. In the early morning hours, news of the death of Mawlana* Yusuf Sulayman Motala, fondly known as “Hazrat” (his eminence) to those who were acquainted with him, spread. He had passed away on Sunday at 8:20 pm EST in Toronto, after suffering a heart attack two weeks earlier. (May the Almighty envelope him in His mercy)

His journey in this world had begun more than 70 years ago in the small village of Nani Naroli in Gujarat, India, where he was born on November 25, 1946 (1 Muharram 1366) into a family known for their piety.

His early studies were largely completed at Jami’a Husayniyya, one of the early seminaries of Gujarat, after which he travelled to Mazahir Ulum, the second oldest seminary of the Indian Sub-Continent, in Saharanpur, India, to complete his ‘alimiyya studies. What drew him to this seminary was the presence of one of the most influential and well-known contemporary spiritual guides, Mawlana Muhammad Zakariyya Kandhlawi (d. 1402/1982), better known as “Hazrat Shaykh.” He had seen Mawlana Zakariyya only briefly at a train stop, but it was enough for him to understand the magnitude of his presence.

Mawlana Yusuf remained in Saharanpur for two years. Despite being younger than many of the other students of Shaykh Zakariya, the shaykh took a great liking to him. Shaykh Zakariya showered him with great attention and even deferred his retirement from teaching Sahih al-Bukhari so that Mawlana Yusuf could study it under his instruction. While in Saharanpur, Mawlana Yusuf also studied under a number of other great scholars, such as Mawlana Muhammad ‘Aqil (author of Al-Durr al-Mandud, an Urdu commentary of Sunan Abi Dawud and current head lecturer of Hadith at the same seminary), Shaykh Yunus Jownpuri (d. 1438/2017) the previous head lecturer of Hadith there), Mawlana As‘adullah Rampuri (d. 1399/1979) and Mufti Muzaffar Husayn (d. 1424/2003).

Upon completion of his studies, Mawlana Yusuf’s marriage was arranged to marry a young woman from the Limbada family that had migrated to the United Kingdom from Gujarat. In 1968, he relocated to the UK and accepted the position of imam at Masjid Zakariya, in Bolton. Although he longed to be in the company of his shaykh, he had explicit instructions to remain in the UK and focus his efforts on establishing a seminary for memorization of Qur’an and teaching of the ‘alimiyya program. The vision being set in motion was to train a generation of Muslims scholars that would educate and guide the growing Muslim community.

Establishing the first Muslim seminary, in the absence of any precedent, was a daunting task. The lack of support from the Muslim community, the lack of integration into the wider British community, and the lack of funds made it seem an impossible endeavour. And yet, Mawlana Yusuf never wavered in his commitment and diligently worked to make the dream of his teacher a reality. In 1973 he purchased the derelict Aitken Sanatorium in the village of Holcombe, near Bury, Lancashire. What had once been a hospice for people suffering from tuberculosis, would become one of the first fully-fledged higher-education Islamic institutes outside of the Indian-Subcontinent teaching the adapted-Nizami syllabus.

The years of struggle by Maulana Yusuf to fulfil this vision paid off handsomely. Today, after four decades, Darul Uloom Al Arabiyya Al Islamiyya, along with its several sister institutes, also founded by Mawlana Yusuf, such as the Jamiatul Imam Muhammad Zakariya seminary in Bradford for girls, have produced well over 2,000 British born (and other international students) male and female ‘alimiyya graduates – many of whom are working as scholars and serving communities across the UK, France, Belgium, Holland, Portugal, the US, Canada, Barbados, Trinidad, Panama, Saudi Arabia, India and New Zealand. Besides these graduates, a countless number of individuals have memorized the Qur’an at these institutes. Moreover, many of the graduates of the Darul Uloom and its sister institutes have set up their own institutes, such as Jamiatul Ilm Wal Huda in Blackburn, Islamic Dawah Academy in Leicester, Jami’ah al-Kawthar in Lancaster, UK, and Darul Uloom Palmela in Portugal, to just mention a few of the larger ones. Within his lifetime, Mawlana Yusuf saw first-hand the fruit of his labours – witnessing his grand students (graduates from his students’ institutes) providing religious instruction and services to communities around the world in their local languages. What started as a relationship of love between a student and teacher, manifested into the transmission of knowledge across continents. In some countries, such as the UK and Portugal, one would be hard-pressed to find a Muslim who had not directly or indirectly benefited from him.

Mawlana Yusuf was a man with deep insights into the needs of Western contemporary society, one that was very different from the one he had grown up and trained in. With a view to contributing to mainstream society, Mawlana Yusuf encouraged his graduates to enter into further education both in post-graduate Islamic courses and western academia, and to diversify their fields of learning through courses at mainstream UK universities. As a result, many ‘alimiyya graduates of his institutes are trained in law, mainstream medicine, natural medicine and homeopathy, mental health, child protection, finance, IT, education, chaplaincy, psychology, philosophy, pharmacy, physics, journalism, engineering, architecture, calligraphy, typography, graphic design, optometry, social services, public health, even British Sign Language. His students also include several who have completed PhDs and lecture at universities. His vision was to train British-born (or other) Muslim scholars who would be well versed in contemporary thought and discipline along with their advanced Islamic learning, equipping them to better contribute to society.

Despite his commitment to the establishment of a public good, the shaykh was an immensely private person and avoided seeking accolade or attention. For many decades he refused invitations to attend conferences or talks around the country, choosing to focus on his students and his family, teaching the academic syllabus and infusing the hearts of many aspirants with the love of Allah through regular gatherings of remembrance (dhikr) and spiritual retreats (i’tikaf) in the way of his shaykh’s Chishti Sufi order.

During my entire stay with him at Darul Uloom (1985–1997), I can say with honesty that I did not come across a single student who spoke ill of him. He commanded such awe and respect that people would find it difficult to speak with him casually. And yet, for those who had the opportunity to converse with him, knew that he was the most compassionate, humble, and loving individual.

He was full of affection for his students and colleagues and had immense concern for the Muslim Ummah, especially in the West. He possessed unparalleled forbearance and self-composure. When he taught or gave a talk, he spoke in a subdued and measured tone, as though he was weighing every word, knowing the import it carried. He would sit, barely moving and without shifting his posture. Even after a surgical procedure for piles, he sat gracefully teaching us Sahih al-Bukhari. Despite the obvious pain, he never made an unpleasant expression or winced from the pain.

Anyone who has listened to his talks or read his books can bear testimony to two things: his immense love for the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) and his love for Shaykh Mawlana Muhammad Zakariya Kandhlawi (may Allah have mercy on him). It is probably hard to find a talk in which he did not speak of the two. His shaykh was no doubt his link to the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) in both his hadith and spiritual transmissions.

Over the last decade, he had retired from most of his teaching commitments (except Sahih al-Bukhari) and had reduced meeting with people other than his weekly dhikr gatherings. His time was spent with his family and young children and writing books. His written legacy comprises over 20 titles, mostly in Urdu but also a partial tafsir of the Qur’an in classical Arabic.

After the news of his heart attack on Sunday, August 25, and the subsequent effects to his brain, his well-wishers around the world completed hundreds of recitals of the Qur’an, several readings of the entire Sahih al-Bukhari, thousands of litanies and wirds of the formula of faith (kalima tayyiba), and gave charity in his name. However, Allah Most High willed otherwise and intended for him to depart this lowly abode to begin his journey to the next. He passed away two weeks later and reports state that approximately 4,000 people attended his funeral. Had his funeral been in the UK, the number of attendees would have multiplied several folds. But he had always shied away from large crowds and gatherings and maybe this was Allah Most High’s gift to him after his death. He was 75 (in Hijra years, and 72 in Gregorian) at the time of his death and leaves behind eight children and several grandchildren.

Mawlana Yusuf educated, inspired and nourished the minds and hearts of countless across the UK and beyond. May Allah Almighty bless him with the loftiest of abodes in the Gardens of Firdaws in the company of Allah’s beloved Messenger (Allah bless him and give him peace) and grant all his family, students, and cherishers around the world beautiful patience.

Dr Mufti Abdur-Rahman Mangera
Whitethread Institute, London
(A fortunate graduate of Darul Uloom Bury, 1996–97)

*a learned Muslim scholar especially in India often used as a form of address

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Shaykh Waleed Basyouni is currently the Vice President of Al Maghrib Institute, a Director of the Texas Dawah Convention, and a member of the American Muslim Jurists Association (AMJA).

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