ICNA-MAS Convention 2024: ‘Unshakable Faith’

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Published May 10, 2024

By Nailah Dean

Every year Muslims gather for the ICNA-MAS convention in Baltimore, Maryland. It is estimated that 30,000 Muslims will convene this Memorial Day weekend, May 25- 27, 2024, to bask in the beauty of the deen as one ummah. The Summer 2024 conference will bring together world renowned scholars who will present lectures and workshops on a variety of topics. The theme of this year’s conference is learning to live a life full of conviction and trust during turbulent times. The conference aims to orient hearts and minds by the idea that we must rely on Allah now more than ever as we witness a period of constant social, political, and personal unrest. This convention allows us the opportunity to refocus and ground ourselves in the teachings of Islam.

In 2019, I attended the ICNA-MAS convention. I went to connect with old and new friends, listen to incredible lectures, and shop in the bazaar. I also attempted to get into the popular matrimonial event, but it was sold out because it was in such high demand! I was so impressed by the sheer number of Muslims attending the convention. People from across the country came together to learn with one another, network, and socialize.

I remember my favorite part of the convention was getting to listen and interact in person with scholars that I follow closely on social media. This year, the discussions will be centered on some of the ongoing challenges Muslims are facing in America. The scholars will engage with the audience to discuss potential solutions within a practical and spiritual framework.
In addition to programs offering religious knowledge per se, there are speeches and workshops on mental health, parenting and child psychology, finance, law, and education, all of course from an Islamic perspective. There are over one hundred breakout sessions including a special Youth Conference, an interfaith dialogue seminar, matrimonial services, hands-on workshops and a Qur’an Competition. It is highly suggested by convention organizers that one pre-register for things like the Qur’an Competition and the Matrimonial Event.

For those interested in the Matrimonial event, take note that it will begin on Sunday, May 26 from 11 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It’s important to go in with the understanding of how the event will work. Participants must provide accurate information and should not conceal or misrepresent any important information (e.g., previously married, divorced, children, country of origin, citizenship, etc.). ICNA cannot take responsibility for any false or misleading information provided by candidates. It is required that women are accompanied by their wali (parent or legal guardian) during the session. The parent(s) or wali should not interrupt the flow of the conversation but should be there to ensure Islamic etiquette. Most importantly, ICNA volunteers try their best to match everyone, but there are no guarantees in this process. There is an advantage to registering ahead of time in that your spot will be secured; slots may run out fast, and also the fee is more expensive if you register on-site.

For the young children, between the ages of four to nine, one can register for childcare services. Parents can safely leave their children with dedicated staff while they attend sessions throughout the day. The children will engage in activities like a science show, arts and crafts, and a moon bounce. There is another program called Muslim Children of North America (MCNA) for kids between the ages of six to nine. The program will bring together children of all backgrounds to learn about Islam and engage in real-life concerns that they might encounter as young children. For middle school-aged children, Young Muslim Jr. (YMJ), is a program that will help them engage in project-based activities in their community, allowing them to grow deeper in their faith. This program includes a variety of activities including YMJ courses, Book Club, and Journey through the Qur’an. The full program can be found here.

For middle schoolers and high schoolers who are interested in debate, there is the Muslim Youth Debate Tournament. This is a youth enrichment platform of the Mafiq Foundation that hosts parliamentary-style debates. The competing teams participate in a preliminary round of four virtual debates. Each debate consists of two pre-assigned topics and two topics given on the day-of. The top four performing middle school teams and the top four performing high school teams will be invited to compete in the semifinals and finals at the convention. It is necessary to register in advance and one can do so here.

There is an opportunity for Muslim women to express themselves through the written word, in a Poetry Slam. Hosted by Strange Inc., a non-profit publishing house in New York, the Slam is an opportunity for twelve talented contenders to showcase their poetry skills and share their creative works in a safe space. They will be judged based on both the content of their work and their performance. There are two rounds of the competition. Interested participants must submit their work in advance, and only twelve winners will be invited to complete the final round on a live stage, on May 26, at 3:30 p.m. Those interested in performing should register here.

Another interesting event that is part of the Technology Track Session is the Hackathon. The Hackathon aims to bring together community, innovation, and technology through a timed event in which teams or individuals work on creative projects to invent and generate new ideas to solve big problems. The Hackathon consists of designing, building, and presenting solutions to problems. The teams then pitch a final concept, prototype, or presentation to judges to demonstrate why their idea would solve the problem at hand. One can register in advance here. The Hackathon is part of a larger track of the conference where topics will include parenting in the digital age, responsible AI, robotics, and cybersecurity awareness.

The number of opportunities to learn, grow in faith, network, and socialize are endless at the convention. Take advantage of the long holiday weekend and head to the ICNA-MAS Convention!

Avatar photo Nailah DeanAuthor Nailah Dean is a lawyer and creative writer based in California. She writes about the intersection of faith and love for young American Muslims. Follow her on Instagram @Nailahdean28 and her blogs on Substack:

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