Las Vegas is not usually associated with anything religious or sacred. But this city attracted some of the best-known Islamic scholars of the country during a three-day conference on the theme of â€œAwakening the Soul.â€
The speakers spoke on various aspects of the theme–the speakers included Dr. Muneer Fareed, the newly appointed Secretary General of the Islamic Society of Nevada, Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, director of the Islamic Society of Nevada, Dr. Ahmed Sakr of the Islamic Education Center, Dr. Liakat Takim of Denver University, Dr. Susan Nashwati, Dr. Mamdouh Ibrahim of the Islamic Organization of America, Dr. AS Nakadar of The Muslim Observer, Sadallah Khan of Irvine, CA, and Munzar Talib as well as Dr. Aslam Abdullah, Editor-in-Chief of The Muslim Observer, and Dr. Rao Irfan Khan.
The last session was addressed by Imam Fateen and Imam Mustapha Youness on their journey to Islam.
The conference is the brainchild of Dr. Aslam Abdullah.
According to Khalid Khan, President of the Islamic Society of Nevada, the host of the conference, â€œDr. Abdullah had suggested the idea to a number of Islamic groups and centers, yet the Las Vegas Muslims were the first to respond to the idea by hosting the first conference in 2003 on the theme of â€˜From Darkness to Lightâ€™.â€ During the last four years more than 2,000 people have attended the four conferences, attracting some 30 Islamic scholars and leaders.
â€œThe purpose behind these conferences, as explained by Dr. Abdullah, is â€œto create a serious forum where scholars of the Qur`an could discuss contemporary issues within the Qur`anic perspectives and interact with the masses in a language comprehended by them.â€
The conference did provide a forum for people to hear scholars give insights on serious issues pertaining to the human soul, its relations with the Divine message, and its autonomy in determining its own destiny. People heard about the diseases of the heart, traps for the soul, temptations of the soul and the methodology to fight back against temptation.
There was also had a live discussion on how to make Qur`an the focus of oneâ€™s attention and activities.
Without reconnecting with the Qur`an, the Muslim community cannot find its direction,â€ asserted Dr. Rao Irfan Ahmed Khan. â€œThe Qur`an leads to deeper understanding of the self,â€ said Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi.
â€œThe temptation to misinterpret the Qur`an is often intense, yet the only way one fights the temptation is get closer to the Qur`an, said Dr. Muneer Fareed.
â€œWithout internalizing the concept of beuty and justice embodied in the Qur`an, the Muslim community would not be able to grow under the shade of the Qur`an,â€ said Dr. Liakat Takim.
â€œMuslims must understand the existing realities within the context of the Qur`an;â€said Dr. Mamdouh Ibrahim.
â€œAction on the message of the Qur`an must be the task of the Muslim community, asserted Munzar Talib.
â€œWomen have an important role to play in the dissemination of the message of the Qur`an,â€ said Dr. Susan Nashwati. The Qur`an does have the power to change,â€ testified Imam Fatin and Imam Mustapha.
â€œUnless we practice what we preach, we would not be able to live up to the message of the Qur`an,â€ said Sadallah Khan.
â€œIt is the Qur`an alone that has the power to awaken the soul,â€ argued Dr. Aslam Abdullah. â€œThe message would remain confined to a small group of people unless there is a a medium to spread the message,â€ said Dr. Nakadar, the publisher of The Muslim Observer.
The audience, comprising people from Las Vegas and the neighboring states of Arizona and California, returned impressed with the high quality of discourse and presentation. â€œIt was very stimulating and intellectual,â€ said Akbar Ali of Corona.
â€œI found the conference very useful for my own understanding and growth, said Dr. Osama Haikal. â€œThis is the first Qur`an conference that I attended fully and I enjoyed it thoroughly,â€ he further explained.
â€œWe want the conference to be more compact and focused. We want our scholars to interact among themselves and with others on some of the most pressing issues of our time,â€ said Dr. Aslam Abdullah. â€œHopefully, the next year, we will attract more people and more scholars.â€
The conference also held a Qur`an recitation competition among the best known reciters of Qur`an in the USA. Some eight reciters participated in the recitation competition.
The proceedings of the Qur`an conference will soon be posted on www.Qur`anconference.com and www.lvmasjid.com.