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ISNA holds 48th Annual Convention

By Ashahed M. Muhammad -Asst. Editor- | Last updated: Aug 8, 2011 - 1:33:21 PM

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Loving God, Loving Neighbor, Living in Harmony

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(Inset) Yusef from New Zealand with his copy of the Holy Qur’an in Braille. Photos: Ashahed M. Muhammad
ROSEMONT, Ill. (FinalCall.com) - The Islamic Society of North America held its 48th Annual Convention here July 1-4 at the Stephens Center under the theme, “Loving God, Loving Neighbor, Living in Harmony.”

The convention is one of the largest Muslim gatherings in North America, bringing together thousands of attendees including individuals, families, businesses, non profit organizations, and people of other faiths for a weekend of fellowship, networking and discussion.

Each year, more than 400 businesses across America come together at the ISNA Bazaar to offer their products & services to the Muslim community. With more than 600 booths for vendors selling merchandise that includes books, audio-video products, clothing and gift items, it provides a wonderful opportunity to purchase uniquely creative items.

One such item is the Holy Qur'an in Braille—the standard method used by blind people to read.

Suleiman Alghanem, is the executive director of Baitulmaal, the organization which produces the Braille Holy Qur'ans. According to Mr. Alghanem, there are about 2,000 copies of the Holy Qur'an in Braille circulating worldwide in Arabic. The English version is coming soon and is currently being printed in South Africa. Baitulmaal recently sent $53,000 worth of paper to Jordan to print more copies.

“Since they were deprived from looking at the Qur'an reading the Qur'an directly they just used to listen to it so we have some brothers who started in the Middle East that came up with this idea—to bring the Qur'an in the Braille language,” said Mr. Alghanem, a Jordanian father of three. “This is sponsored by donors who love to gain rewards from Allah to print this Qur'an for the blind people to read where they can get rewards—insha-Allah—they are the ones who sponsor it, the donors and we distribute it on their behalf.”

XL, the creator of the INSHALLAH clothing line, had a fully stocked table making his merchandise with a message available to the thousands traveling to the conference He said a sister on the train in New York shortly after the failed Times Square bombing in May 2010inspired him.

“I saw a sister on the train with her hijab and she had her head down low. It was like she would not pick her head up. I didn't know why at first, but I saw her head down and as time went by her head stayed down then I looked and saw people around her kind of looking so I could kind of tell she had fear or guilt or all these things that she probably shouldn't have felt because it had nothing to do with her,” said XL.“ I felt hurt inside, I felt sympathy, I felt sad for her and I felt I wish I could do something to change this.”

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Muhammad Ali Khan, XL, Asra Usman, Manzoor Usman
He said when he woke up the next morning and after making Fajr prayer, the situation with the Muslim sister came back into his mind.

“I prayed to Allah I wish it was something that I could do that could have changed that event that I saw. And all of a sudden this idea came to my head ‘I love New York'. One of the first designs had an I (heart) New York in Arabic then New York below it. If she was wearing that t-shirt at that moment, that t-shirt would have spoken for her she wouldn't have had to say anything. The t-shirt would have expressed how she felt as a Muslim. I'm Muslim but I love New York. And that's how it all started. So from there I did ‘I Love New York', ‘I Love Brooklyn', I Love Queens', I Love Bronx' and people at the Mosque just started wearing them and just started buying them,” he added.

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