From Sabahat F. Adil, AID Summer Intern and Student Leader at the University of Chicago:

During the last weekend of June, I attended the 31st ICNA-MAS Convention in Hartford, Connecticut, titled “Living Islam, Loving Humanity.” It brought together thousands of people for a weekend of lectures by well-known speakers from both the United States and abroad. Sponsored by two large American Muslim organizations, many Muslims convened at this national event, one intended to help Muslims understand challenges and, simultaneously, celebrate faith. While I have been to conferences in the past, attending this in the capacity of an Americans for Informed Democracy (AID) intern provided me with a unique perspective.

I partook in the event to attempt to strengthen relationships between AID and national American Muslims organizations such as the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) and Muslim America Society (MAS), particularly to raise awareness about our Hope not Hate initiative. Although we have a great foundation of individuals around the country who coordinate events, AID also uses great foresight in its latest efforts to develop partnerships with groups whose membership will provide nuanced insight into such global issues as U.S.-Muslim World relations.

Some of the speakers at the conference addressed Muslim political engagement, and the necessity to do so as citizens of the American community. Others addressed the theological obligation for Muslims to help others, whether it is through social, educational or political levels. All in all, issues covered in the lectures varied, but all of them strove to connect the individual with his or her obligation to serve the community.

The ICNA-MAS experience was beneficial in multiple ways. Students like us, stemming from varied backgrounds and also devoted to creating internationalist leaders, had a great opportunity to meet Muslims in a conference setting. This arena allowed us to forge partnerships with important leaders in attendance; such relationships have the potential to develop our Hope not Hate initiative in monumental ways. The conference demonstrated that Muslims in America are an important constituency, growing in rapid numbers. This conference was an important milieu for AID to understand the subtleties of elements such as approaching individuals when the issues involved are rather personal and, at times, emotionally charged. If AID is to continue with its remarkable successes in bringing the world home to people in the most diverse of circumstances, it must continue in this path of engaging individuals of the changing global sphere.