Fourth Annual IECRC Women’s Milad Shareef Conference Held
Speakers, naat khwan, children and a section of the audience at the Fourth Annual IECRC Milad Shareef Conference
The Islamic Educational and Cultural Research Center (IECRC), a seven-year old California non-profit organization, held its fourth Annual Women’s Milad Shareef Conference on July 19th, 2009 in Newark’s well- known Mehran Restaurant. Each year the IECRC dedicates its Women’s Conferences to the great women of Islamic history in order to learn about their lives and be inspired by their piety, knowledge, community activism, and strength of character. This year’s Conference was dedicated to the Mothers of the Noble Prophets (peace be upon them) Hazrat Maryam (Mother Mary, peace be upon her) and Hazrat Aaminah (May Allah Almighty be well pleased with her). The evening was a pleasant blend of academic knowledge, personal insights, and poetic recitations by adults, youth and children, creating a spiritual environment that was enjoyed by all of the almost 250 women who attended from different parts of the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, and as far as Woodland, California.
The Conference formally commenced with verses from the Holy Qur’an from the Chapter Maryam recited beautifully in both Arabic and English by Hafiza Nikhat Fatima of the Taqwa Center in Fremont. This was followed by the Hamd (praise of Almighty Allah) recitation by Sister Aalia Jeelani of San Jose. The young girls of the Gading Mosque in Hayward recited the famous Qaseedah Burdah Shareef (Poem of the Cloak) of the great
13th century CE Egyptian scholar, poet and Sufi Saint, Imam Sharafuddin Muhammad Al-Busiri (may Allah have mercy on him).
This great Naat (poetry in praise of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him, his noble family and companions) was composed by Imam Busiri after suffering a stroke which left him partially paralyzed. He prayed to Allah Almighty for a cure, and then fell asleep. In a dream, he saw himself reciting the poem to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), who then touched the paralyzed part of his body and put his cloak or Burdah over him. Upon waking up, he discovered he had been cured of his paralysis. The verses of the Burdah have since been learned by heart and inscribed on the walls of mosques all over the Muslim world, and are congregationally recited around the globe.
More than 90 commentaries have been written on this poem. Written originally in Arabic, it has been translated into English, Persian, Urdu, Turkish, Berber, Punjabi, French, and German, to name but a few languages. There is much healing in the recitation of the Burdah Shareef and there are many miracles associated with it, the least of which is its linguistic miracle that every couplet ends with the Arabic letter Meem, the letter that begins the name of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Of the many enlightening speakers invited to the Conference was Sister Benazir Bath of Yuba City who gave an eye-opening speech on the topic of the Rights of Women in Islam. She encouraged the audience to seek true knowledge on the position of women in Islam and how Muslim women truly feel about this position. She explained this is much more effective than second hand sources that may not have the correct information, let alone have any first-hand experience of what it means to be a Muslim woman.
The purpose of co-dedicating this year’s Conference to the revered Mother Mary (peace be upon her) was to seek common ground with other faith communities who share love for her. In this regard, several special guests were invited to share their spiritual and cultural insights. Of the distinguished panel was Rev. Barbara Meyers, Community Minister at the Mission Peak Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Fremont who spoke on Interfaith Communication across Diverse Cultures. She stated that the act of compassion that Mother Mary (peace be upon her) displayed as a nursemaid to Mother Aaminah (peace be upon her) when the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was being born, is a classic example of interfaith communication where a Jewish mother of a Prophet (peace be upon him) who was to establish Christianity, helped a mother of a Prophet (peace be upon him) who was to establish Islam.
Other attending guests were Rev. Melba Meakin, a Minister in her own church in San Francisco, Founder of the James Brady Therapeutic Riding program, and Chairperson of Polo in the Park. Rev. Meakin spoke about the four pillars that she lives by which she experienced from motherhood: love for life, integrity of character and to develop that in children at home, loving kindness to all, and to develop cultural dexterity to be able to be at ease with each other. Her main message was commitment to tolerance, work for peace and justice for all people, compassion, and the pursuit of happiness, life, and liberty for all.
Ms. Michelle Hasan, Assistant Director of the Oakland Housing Authority Section Eight program, works with the disabled. She also provides services for humanity producing housing and shelter for the homeless. She talked about her earlier life experiences that taught her about kindness and compassion for humanity. She also shared her journey to Islam through her husband who she said seemed “quite normal” when she met him, even though he was a Muslim, contrary to the negative images in the media about Islam and its followers.
Ms. Liz Hamm of the San Jose Quaker group shared her personal experiences while she visited the Dhikr gatherings at the IECRC. She initially brought a friend with personal ailments (who, by the power of God Almighty, immediately felt relief after the Spiritual Healing treatment at the IECRC) and was impressed by the warmth of the gatherings. She shared the teachings she learnt at the Dhikr gatherings to be all-embracing like the sun, generous like the ocean, and humble like the earth (teachings of the great 12th century CE Sufi Saint of India, Hazrat Khwaja Muinuddeen Chishti, may Allah be well pleased with him).
Naat presentations were made by many wonderful reciters in the community including Sister Riffat Selamat, daughter of the award winning musical artist Selamat Ali of Pakistan. In accordance with the topic Sister Naila Naz who traveled all the way from Woodland recited a beautiful Punjabi poem on mothers. There was also a children’s group recitation. A Powerpoint slide presentation on the history of Naat created by IECRC Canada
and CWCC (Canadian Women’s Counseling Center) was also presented. A couple of verses of Manqabat (poetry praising the Saints of Allah) for the Crown of the Saints, Shaykh Abdul Qadir Jilani (b. 1077 CE, may Allah be well pleased with him) was also recited.
A slide presentation highlighted the different aspects of IECRC: why it was created, how it functions, who and how to contact the organization, and how one can help further its cause. The presentation included some personal testimonials from women who had direct healing experiences at the IECRC. One sister gave a testimonial in regards to the benefits she received by the Spiritual Healing treatment for her alcoholic husband, and another sister spoke about her healing experiences after treatment at IECRC for her stroke. The purpose of this slide presentation and the testimonials was to make the audience aware of IECRC’s services which are for all regardless of any discriminatory factor. The presentation also highlighted the two pieces of property IECRC has recently acquired to institutionalize and further its work. The one in Sacramento has already been purchased and the IECRC Academy for Youth and Children is in full swing with a full time Holy Quran Hifz School, and other classes. The property in the Bay Area is in its final stages of purchase. IECRC encourages one and all to come forward and support this noble effort.
Sister Fatima Sharaaz Qadri of the IECRC gave a moving speech on Isra wal Miraaj (Ascension). July 19 coincided with the 27th of Rajab which was the night when the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was taken in body and soul from Makkah to Jerusalem and then from Jerusalem to the heavens and beyond to meet his Creator. She explained the significance of Jerusalem, how it was the direction of prayer for the previous communities and how it holds significance for all the three great monotheistic faiths today. She quoted the famous verse [17:1] of the Holy Quran that refers to this miraculous journey and explained in detail how the Holy Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) ascended from Jerusalem to the heavens on this auspicious night on the Buraq (steed), and met all the other Prophets, finally meeting his Creator, Almighty Allah (Glorified and Exalted is He). She detailed this Ascension into 5 parts, each part with its own special significance, wonders, and blessings for the believers.
Syeda Shagufta Ahmad Qadri of the IECRC gave a heartfelt speech about Hazrat Maryam (peace be upon her), the blessed mother of Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him). She explained that Mother Mary (peace be upon her) was a Sahabi (a Companion of a Prophet), and one who worshipped and served her Lord incessantly to the point that her feet bled. It was verses from Chapter Maryam that the Muslim delegation of migrants from Makkah to Abyssinia read to the Christian King Negus that softened his already just heart allowing the Muslims to seek refuge in his land. Sister Shagufta also quoted the Prophetic tradition on the threefold higher position that mothers in Islam hold above the father. She also explained that the purpose of the Conference was to seek common ground with people of other faiths by uniting around the revered personality of Mother Mary (peace be upon her). She quoted the Prophetic tradition that all of creation is the family of God. In such trying modern times when there is so much mistrust and violence, the world needs symbols and personalities that will help us unite into one human family.
Syeda Zille Humma Qadri of the IECRC gave a poignant and inspirational speech on the life and virtues of our revered Mother Aaminah (peace be upon her). She explained that Mother Aaminah (peace be upon her) is the best of all the mothers of the world since she is the mother of the Best of Creation (peace be upon him), who is a Mercy to all the worlds. She said that each of the nine months that Mother Aaminah (peace be upon
her) was carrying the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in her womb, she was visited by a different Prophet who congratulated her on being the mother of the Leader of all the Prophets (peace be upon them all). She also beautifully elucidated the wondrous events at the time of the blessed birth of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and how much love and reverence the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had for her. Sister Humma clarified that in the Islamic tradition, Mother Aaminah is considered a pure believer and that Almighty Allah miraculously raised her from her resting place after she had moved on from this world and that she formally accepted Islam at the blessed hands of her blessed son, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Syeda Zille Humma also gave the welcome address, the vote of thanks and made heartfelt supplications for the Muslim Ummah and the entire world.
The Conference ended with a beautifully recited prayer by Sister Fareeha Bari of Milpitas followed by the Durood-o-Salaam (Blessings and Salutations) upon our Beloved Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him). A sumptuous dinner was served for all.
Throughout the Conference, the IECRC Stall was open selling books and CDs on topics such as Healing Cancer with the Names of God, The Science of Dreams, Peace and Tolerance in Islam, etc. IECRC thanks all its wonderful volunteers who are its backbone, who not only donate their time and skills, but also make in-kind donations to keep IECRC’s work going.
To reach the IECRC, please call 510-732-6786, or write to email@example.com. You may also visit IECRC on the web at www.iecrcna.org or www.maulud.org.