ISNA is ugly-beautiful, crazy-wonderful.

When I was younger, this is all I saw at the conference: young men wearing skin tight shirts and sporting carefully trimmed side burns. Young women wearing neatly configured scarves above the latest fashion. We attended lectures about helping the voiceless and the indigent. We spent $10.00, at least, at every meal and God knows what per night at Hytte Regency. We give salaams to our siblings in faith in the lobby and then lie awake in our rooms late into the night listening to their partying about God knows what.

This ISNA, I greeted countless people, all of whom I love. Many were my students, who I taught at an Islamic school over the course of five years. Others were aunties, others friends I made along the way growing up and living in a Muslim community. I was very happy to see them all. I love them, though a few of my former students displayed disappointing behavior. My sister and I caught ourselves categorizing people as “hardcore” and “borderline.” Most of my greetings went to people I’d consider “hardcore;” I’m not prejudiced, but that’s simply the case, the communities of Muslims I’ve been around have generally been that way. There were shocks too, several hijabies who became hijabless, for instance. A young man in the elevator who was drinking a beer.

The entertainment session had full instrumentation, which were used by all but two performers who didn’t use anything at all, including percussion. But sadly the art seemed to be lacking in more than half of the performances. Someone else in blogistan discussed these stupid Muslim boy bands. Why the were put up I don’t know. To make up for the others there were, Dawud Wharnsby, Naeem from Native Deen, and a spoken word performer, a sister whose name I’m trying to find out. Here’s her picture:

I was a volunteer, so late night entertainment sessions were doable, but I did attend three other sessions as well. The best was the Take Back America rally sponsored by the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago; Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Christine Cegelis, former candidate for  IL-6 congressional district and Marcie Kaptur, OH-9, all spoke about why Muslims should be involved in politics. I attended a session about the environment at which Jamal Badawi gave a thorough presentation of why it matters and another person gave a lot of practical information about what to do. Jesse Jackson was a surprise speaker at the end of that session, he was eloquent and correct as usual. I’d tell you exactly what he said, but it wasn’t anything new. He was came to express solidarity. Lastly, I attednded a session in the main hall about indigenizing Islam in America. I tried hard to listen and understand, even moved up much closer in the middle of the speech. Several speakers said nothing significant though, and the one who did, Dr. Abdul Hakeem Jackson, I hard at ALIM last year explain it all in much more detail.

Other things (I will put up pictures for each of these) once I get the chance.

The international toilet had a booth in the bazaar:


The Rayyan Center, a not so quixotic project undertaken by a few sisters to establish a masjid at the University of Illinois at Chicago:


An American Muslim Hijab:


A lot of art booths, which are the best:


A Braille Quran:



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