ICNA Sacramento Fundraiser Draws Attention to Dawah
By Ras H. Siddiqui
Sacramento: The Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) Chapter in Sacramento, California held its 5 th Annual Supporters Dinner at Mack Powell Event Center on Saturday, May 31 st to draw attention to the need of Dawah (outreach) activities in the region. Since it should be no secret to anyone that promoting Islam in America has been challenging recently, an effort that asks the simple question “Why Islam?” on billboards along major freeways and highways, booths at the California State Fair (which starts on July 11 th this year) visited by thousands, plus television, radio, and newspaper advertisements, gets noticed. Mainstream Americans, if they are interested in Islam, are welcomed and can contact 877-WHY-ISLAM on the phone or online http://www.whyislam.org/ ) to get answers from informed people.
ICNA-WhyIslam Sacramento has been leading this outreach effort locally for a number of years now. They are doing a job that few have ventured into in an organized way, targeting ignorance about our religion in the process. What do our neighbors, friends, co-workers really know about the Islamic faith? Are they to rely solely on the media and the sensational headlines generated on the actions of a few people about a religion that has over a billion followers? The ICNA organization has taken up the challenge nationally by informing Americans about Islam with no politics involved and its effort in Sacramento is succeeding. And because any project needs resources, annual fundraisers like this one have become mandatory.
The event started off with emcee Br. Hakim Karimthanking a number of respected invited guests and introduced Hayan, a very young and confident kid to recite from the Holy Qur’an to start the formalities. He was followed by the first lead speaker, the Imam from the Muslim Community of Folsom (MCF) Aamir Nazir. Imam Nazir reminded everyone that what we do in this life, good or bad, will become testimony in front of Allah (SWT) one day. The legacy we leave behind will be a testimony for what our destiny will be. He summarized some Hadith on how we can lead our lives positively and how we can successfully share our beliefs. He said that some of the biggest obstacles in our outreach work come from within the Muslim community because we sometimes over-think the situation and thus do nothing, or we blame everything on outside conspiracies. Imam Nazir quoted from President Harry Truman to get his point across. “A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.”
Imam Mohammad Shakir from Lodi next came up on stage and shared some of his journey in Islam and how he decided to engage in Dawah to non-Muslims and the success of the efforts. A slide presentation of ICNA Sacramento’s work, Outreach, Social Services for those in need locally (including a backpack program giving school supplies to underserved children), Education, and last but not least a Young Muslims program. The presentation ended on a “What can you do?” question, the answer to which was either volunteer and get involved or provide financial help.
A keynote speech by Shaykh Abdool Rehman Khan was presented next. Khan is a specialist in Islamic Inheritance, former Principal of the Guyana Islamic Institute and has chaired the Shari’ah Council of Islamic Circle of North America, and is a member of the Fiqh Council of North America. He highlighted the fact that the recent ICNA convention in Baltimore attracted 20,000 people and it all started with the efforts of a few. He said that society is hungry for Dawah. We are not weak, he added. In a state of weakness it is the power of Allah (SWT) that makes good things happen. He also said that nobody else is going to come forward to do this work for us. We have to do it ourselves.
The formal fundraising activity was conducted by Dr Mohammad Hassan from Texas who has been Director Outreach & Resource Development at ICNA Relief USA. He used his powers of persuasion in an effective manner here as approximately $50,000 was collected at this gathering. Magrib prayers and dinner followed as the evening ended with an entertainment finale by Hamza Siddiqui. The art form Siddiqui excels in is called “Spoken Word of Poetry”. The topics of his poems were quite diverse and included “Super Hero” and “I’m Spitting It” and the hardest hitting one “Is it possible to be a Patriotic Muslim?”