"Leading With Compassion" 3rd Annual Black Muslim Psychology Conference

South East Queens Muslim Collective member Imam Ayoub Baki and I, Abdus-Salaam Musa, President of SEQMC, Inc., along with my colleague, mentor and Advisor, Dr. Imam Muhammad Hatim traveled to Pennsylvania on July 21, 2017 to attend the Third Annual Black Muslim Psychology Conference. The theme of the conference was “Leading with Compassion.” Dr. Hatim was a conference presenter. I attended to assist him in the presentation by distributing handouts and questionnaires for my own dissertation. Imam Baki had been invited to join the conference because African American Imams from all over the country would be in attendance. Also, two other Imams from the New York City area were in attendance i.e., Imam Siraj Wahaj from Masjid At-Taqwa in Brooklyn and Imam Talib Abdur Rasheed form the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood (MIB) in Manhattan.

The conference host was Kameelah Mu'Min Rashad, the founder and President of the Muslim Wellness Foundation (MWF). She, along with her husband Qasim F. Rashad, who served as co-host and is Vice-President of the organization (MWF) organized an awesome conference! Truly Allah (SWT) has blessed them with a foresight that will benefit the Black Muslim community, among others in America. Upon arriving on the first day of the conference there was a vibrant and warm feeling that permeated throughout the venue. There were many black and brown faces of people moving about. The age range of the participants were from late teens to mid 70’s. Greetings of "As Salaam Alaikum," were being given outside of where the conference was being held and inside. It was a warm and rich feeling to be part of such a gathering.

As we entered into the conference site there was a buffet table to the right and registration to the left. After registering we retrieved a delicious breakfast and shortly thereafter the conference started. The Keynote Speaker for the first day was the recently elected State Representative of Minnesota, Ilhan Omar, a Somalian woman. The second day's Keynote Speaker was Ustadha Ieasha Prime. Both speakers delivered dynamite presentations. Each spoke to the challenges that women and people of color face here in America as Muslims. They shared their own personal challenges and challenged the brothers and Imams in their roles as leaders. My impression was that although these women were leaders in their own right, they were encouraging the men of the Muslim communities to step up and start leading as they should. Their voices were resolute in asking that men partner with them in our shared struggles combating the social, political, financial and Islamophobia that all Muslims are currently confronting. They were both inspiring speakers and moved the audience of Muslims and others that were in attendance.

This was the first African American Muslim conference I attended since Muslim Alliance of North America (MANA’s). The workshops that were presented were excellent. This was one of the times that I wished that I could have cloned myself in order to attend all of them. There were presentations across the Islamic spectrum. Members of the Nation of Islam, Warith Deen Muhammad and the Sunni community presented relevant workshops that addressed many of the issues that affect our communities. Imam/Dr. Hatim stated “I've had the honor of attending all three Muslim Wellness Conferences. For this one, the highlight for me were the sessions for Imams. They were from my experience, the first time, the professional, psychological, emotional, as well as self-care challenges have been addressed in a conference.” I envied him that he had been able to attend the earlier two conferences I had missed. Dr. Saud Abdul Kabeer, daughter of Sr. Amina Abdul-Haqq a South East Queens resident, and one of our up and coming scholars from the Muslim American community who had presented at last year's conference was presented with an award this year.

I’m looking forward to the upcoming conference next year. Truly the two days I spent there were rewarding and enlightening. It was shared by some in attendance that this conference i.e., MWF was the "Black Muslims," ISNA and ICNA’s convention. As African American Muslims, it is imperative that we unite to get our message out to the masses. A Jewish woman in attendance stated that she believes more non-Muslims should attend this conference to see Islam shared in a positive light in contrast to the constant negative one depicted in the media. I personally would like for the community in New York City do something similar. Communities in America view New York City as a Mecca and they call upon two of the noted African American Imam’s Siraj Wahaj and Talib Abdur Rashid as leaders of our community with regularity. Then why not have a similar conference here?

The theme for next year's Muslim Wellness Foundation's sponsored Fourth Annual Black Muslims Conference will be “Homemade Love: Lessons on Sex, Intimacy, Marriage & Family. These topics are so important to be addressed. Possibly this will decrease the divorce rate in the Muslim community.

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