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Deen Intensive Academy — Preparing Islamic scholars

By Brian E. Muhammad -Contributing Writer- | Last updated: Sep 13, 2013 - 11:17:32 AM

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Presenters and conference coordinators were joined by members of Mosque Cares and the Association of Imam W.D. Mohammed on last day of the conference . Sis. Nisa Islam Muhammad (sitting). Second row L-r: Adul Jalil Muhammad, Bro. Wallace D. Mohammed II, Imam Abdullah Madyun, Imam Talib Shareef, Stu. Minister Carlos Muhammad, Bro. Mujahid Beyah. Back row L-r: Bro. Benjamin Abdul-Haqq, Bro. Umar Al-Amin, Imam Sultan R. Muhammad, Imam Abdul Malik, Dr. A. Akbar Muhammad.
ALEXANDRIA, Virginia - Muslims eager to enhance their knowledge of Islam traveled from near and far to participate in the first “Deen Intensive Academy” (DIA) summit held August 22-25 on the outskirts of Washington, D.C.

Participants experienced three days of study on a range of topics such as “The Qur’anic Mandate: The Relevance of Hadith in the 21st Century”, “Understanding Prayer: The Prophet’s (PBUH) Way, “The Learning Curve: Your Growth in Islam” and “The Necessity of Dawah.”

According to organizers, Imam Abdul Jalil Muhammad and Sister Nisa Islam Muhammad, the initiative is designed to help the development of Islamic scholars for the 21 Century and beyond who will be equipped to meet the challenges of a faith that currently has a growing base of 1.6 billion people worldwide.

“Deen Intensive Academy yearns to be a safe haven where Believers can continue to learn the Deen (Religion) of Islam and dispense it properly to people who are thirsting and hungering for it. This is just my small advancement of making Islam real in our lives,” said Imam and President of Deen intensive Academy, Abdul Jalil Muhammad.

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Muslims from around the country attended Deen Intensive Academy. Photos: Starla Muhammad
For years he had been to many Islamic workshops but few were in the inner city where Blacks are rushing to Islam.  That lack of opportunity inspired him to start DIA.  He was also inspired out of the concern for more unity among Muslims, recognizing the value of various leading voices such as the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan, Imams Siraj Wahhaj, Zaid Shakir, Abdul Malik and others who were making tireless efforts to raise the banner of Islam in their respective works.

“I asked Allah to give me the strength and the help to bring about a brotherhood within the Muslim community with the Nation of Islam and the broad Muslim community,” said Imam Abdul Jalil.  But not only Black American Muslims, he added.

“I want the Minister to get to know people like Hamza Yusuf, I want him to sit down and talk to people like Suhaib Webb, I want Suhaib Webb to hear his energy…I want people like Yusuf Estes and all Black American Muslims, Indonesian Muslims, Pakistani Muslims, I want them to hear what Minister Farrakhan has on his heart—but there’s a divide.”

The Chicago native also said that along with narrowing the intra-Muslim divide, he observed among the faithful a need to be more knowledgeable about the “Deen” or religion and its universal prophet, Muhammad ibn Abdullah (Peace Be Upon Him).  

“It’s a battle for our faith…it’s the battle for our minds. As Muslims today we have some great opportunities, but some great challenges,” said Dr. A. Akbar Muhammad, the International Representative of the Nation of Islam and Minister Farrakhan. Dr. Akbar shared a broad spectrum of knowledge gained through his years of travel and study particularly in the Middle East and Africa.

Imam Abdul Jalil reached out to Islamic leaders he was close with to join him in the vision and the DIA was born. Presenters included Dr. A. Akbar Muhammad; Imam Siraj Wahhaj of Masjid At-Taqwa in NY, Imam Zaid Shakir, co-founder of Zaytuna College in California,  Imam Sultan Rahman Muhammad, resident Imam at Mosque Maryam in Chicago, Imam Abdullah Madyun,  of Masjid Ihsan in Chicago and Imam Abdul Malik.

The initiative lived up to its name “Intensive”, with sessions starting at 8 a.m. and lasting through 10:00 p.m., breaking only for obligatory prayers and dinner. The presentations were serious, yet at times very humorous as the speakers set a comfortable atmosphere for attendees to easily grasp a lot of information in a short amount of time.  The intensity of focus and interest in the information among the participants was so strong, attendees themselves declined the offer of breaks by the organizers to ease the pace.

“There’s something about the spirit, the genuiness; the love is so special—I’m touched,” said Imam Wahhaj in an interview after his presentation in describing the keenness of the audience at the conference. 

Day one of the DIA started with Imam Wahhaj and was highlighted with the “Unity Jumu’ah Prayer Service” at historic Masjid Muhammad conducted by Nation of Islam Imam Sultan Rahman Muhammad, a Masjid where his late father Imam Sultan Muhammad officiated.

On Saturday, Brother Jesse Muhammad from Houston, Texas conducted a dynamic and interactive Social Media Workshop. Brother Jesse not only introduced Twitter to those unfamiliar with the social media site, but it served as a refresher course to those already familiar.

Afterward, attendees viewed the online broadcast of Part 33 of The Time and What Must Be Done by Min. Farrakhan and “tweeted” along with the rest of the “Twitter Army”.

In the closing session, Wallace D. Mohammed II, the President of Mosque Cares and son of Imam Warith D. Mohammed II and several Imams in the Association of Imam W.D. Mohammed came to the DIA. The historic moment was part family reunion and in part another step towards unification of communities was received with enthusiasm by the conference participants.

Wallace D. Mohammed II encouraged the attendees to further develop in the path of “human excellence” pointing out how this was the goal of Muslim leaders in America going back decades.

Yahya Sharieff traveled from St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands to attend DIA.  “I listened to Sister Nisa talk about this program during the Ramadan Prayerline.  She mentioned all the dignitaries that would be here.  I made up my mind then that I was coming.  It was so beautiful and inspirational.  The imams and various speakers raised the bar of what the Honorable Elijah Muhammad wanted for us,” he told The Final Call.

For Zarinah Shakir who traveled from Trenton, NJ to attend, the weekend was, “excellent”.  “That’s the one word I wrote on my evaluation. This was long overdue and a wonderful experience.  The organizers outdid themselves,” said Sister Zarinah Shakir.

To see video interviews and coverage from the conference, visit www.simplystarla.blogspot.com. For more information on the next Deen Intensive Academy visit www.deenintensiveacademy.com.

Starla Muhammad contributed to this article.

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