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NASIMCO Post (Special Edition)

31st Annual NASIMCO Conference 2011


31st Annual NASIMCO Conference 2011

Theme: "Practical Pathways to Progress: The Female Role"

conf1The 31st Annual NASIMCO Conference took place on Saturday, June 25th. It was hosted by the Muslim Foundation Inc. at their new center, Masjid-e-Ali, in New Jersey. The Conference recorded good participation from member Jamaats, including delegates, invitees and guests. There was also better participation from the chairladies, who had been specially invited to the conference, given the pertinence of the theme.


Address by President of NASIMCO

conf6The address by the President of NASIMCO, Al-Haj Gulamabbas Najafi, highlighted the achievements of NASIMCO during the past year, in particular, the success of relief and fundraising efforts, the development of the Capacity Building Programs and the integral role NASIMCO has played in resolving challenges at the international level. He elaborated briefly on new upcoming initiatives such as the e-Learning project and the Census and Skills Database. With this overview of NASIMCO's activities, the President deliberated at some length about the theme that had been chosen for this year's Conference. He reiterated that NASIMCO has always encouraged female participation in the community and that it is only with their support and contribution that the community can take on a collaborative structure and atmosphere. This in turn will impact the way in which decisions are made at the Jamaat level.



Address by The World Federation and Other Regional Organizations


Although the President of The World Federation, Dr. Asgharali Moledina, was unable to be present at the Conference due to a commitment at a fundraising event, he asked that a message be read out on his behalf. In the message, he sent his apologies and asked that the Conference ponder over ways that faith and Imaan can be protected whilst staying in North America. He renewed the pledge of The World Federation towards making the Madressah objectives a reality to help the youth address the problem. He emphasised that The World Federation is grateful for NASIMCO's support and wished the Conference fruitful deliberations.

The Chairman of Africa Federation, Al-Haj Anwarali Dharamsi also addressed the Conference and spoke about some of the work that Africa Federation was undertaking and the schemes it had set up. The Chairman briefly mentioned the MAMMAS scheme and Solidarity Day. He commended the theme of the Conference and pledged the support of Africa Federation to NASIMCO.


Discussion Forums

The Role of Women in the Decision-Making Process - Dr. Niloufer Saeed

Dr. Niloufer Saeed, a past President of the ISIA Jamaat of Kitchener-Waterloo and a keynote speaker at the Conference, spoke about how involving women in the decision-making process is enriching and almost always seems to lead to a better end result. She gave some touching examples from her own experiences and struggles during her time as President. She concluded by emphasising the value of females in decision-making processes and demonstrated how this can create more female leaders and pave the way for a better future.

Drawing Lessons from Current Community Practices - Sr. Zehra Naqvi

Sr. Zehra Naqvi, the second keynote speaker, addressed the Conference in an engaging way while drawing attention to current community practices that act as barriers towards female involvement and participation. She touched on language issues and missed opportunities for discussion on mentorship and leadership. During the session, the audience came to appreciate the subliminal ways in which women are often put on the back-burner in community affairs.




conf2After the two keynote addresses, the Conference attendees were split into two groups for the workshops. The objective of the first workshop was to identify strategies at the regional level to engage member Jamaats to involve women. The objective of the second workshop was to identify strategies at a local level to engage women in Jamaat management committees. The workshops were modereted by Councilor Shyrose Jaffer Dhalla and Councilor Siddika Jessa respectively. Action items and outcome from the workshops are listed below, in order of priority:


1-      Promote Women Role Models and Education

2-      Individual Right to Vote: Jamaat Constitution

3-      Equal Integration: Separation by Modesty and Decorum

4-      Bring Speakers to Address Issue (Home/Life Balance or Attitude Towards Women)

5-      Start Using Gender Neutral Language

6-      Parenting Classes for Equal Opportunity


As well as identifying the objectives, it was also ascertained that although there would be a low to medium risk in implementing these objectives, the impact on the community would be high.


Concluding Contemplations on Theme

Al-Haj Hussein Walji, the third keynote speaker, concluded the discussion forums by encouraging all present to write a pledge detailing something they aimed to change with respect to the outcomes on how to be more inclusive towards women in the community. Hussein Walji stressed the importance of the subject from the Islamic point of view and encouraged internalization of it.


Programs and Reports


The reports session consisted of the Secretariat Report, the Capacity Building Report, the NASIMCO Census and Skills Database Report and the e-Learning Project Report. Sr. Saajida Rhemtulla briefly reported on the various initiatives undertaken by the NASIMCO Secretariat over the past year. In addition to responding to general enquiries, producing bi-monthly newsletters, creating moonsighting announcements and sending out death announcements, the Secretariat has coordinated fundraising and relief efforts, obtained government matching for Pakistan Flood Relief funds, managed the administration and logistics for various camps, and assisted in capacity building initiatives and tabligh work.


Councilor Siddika Jessa reported on the Capacity Building activities over the past year and the impact they have made on the attendees and respective communities in which they have been held. She demonstrated a small exercise to give the conference a flavour of what the programs entail and the outcomes they produce. She referred to the binder that had been distributed to all present, which included written reports and testimonials from past programs and encouraged Jamaats to get in touch with NASIMCO to give their members the chance to benefit from these effective programs.


Councilor Arif Jacksi delivered a report about the Census and Skills Database form wconf3hich is to be released by NASIMCO later this year. The intended layout, information collection, and use of the form were presented at the Conference 2010 and issues brought up at that time have since been resolved. The form now meets the requirements in the Privacy Act and caters to a good range of personal, family and professional data. Jamaats were requested to send the number of forms needed into NASIMCO so the appropriate arrangements can then be made.


The new e-Learning project being undertaken by NASIMCO was introduced by Vice President, Shabir Karim who explained how the project had been conceptualized from the Tabligh Task Force. A video presentation, put together by the e-Learning project team and Masumeen Media Works, was then played, which explained the eLEARN in more detail. The structure of the project, the intended audience, reasons why such a project is required, timelines, requirements and future projections were all covered as part of this presentation. This information will be available on the NASIMCO website soon.


Membership Applications from Buffalo Jamaat and Boston Jamaat


NASIMCO had received two applications for membership. The first was from the Jaffarya Center of Niagara Frontier NY, Inc. and the second was from the Imamia Muslim Foundation Inc. The Secretariat, with directions of the Executive Council tabled the application at the 2011 NASIMCO Annual Conference with recommendation to the Conference to accept both applications as they satisfied all requirements for membership under the NASIMCO Constitution. Both Jamaats gave brief overviews about their respective Centers and activities and both were unanimously approved for membership to NASIMCO.


Report on The World Federation Conference


Two main aspects of the Thirteenth Ordinary Conference of The World Federation were Women's Needs Analysis and an update on the Foundation Fund. Councilor Shyrose Jaffer Dhalla reported on the first and Councilor Sadique Jaffer on the latter. Shyrose Jaffer Dhalla reported on the unique challenges faced by women in North America, especially as regards to financial and educational support. She also touched on the prevalent feeling that women's voices are not heard and that they are looking for crevices to express themselves.


Sadique Jaffer discussed the "why", the "how" and the "when" of the Foundation Fund. The World Federation has a long-term goal of self-sustainability, which is one of the primary reasons for the Foundation Fund. The way in which they propose that this will be achieved is a two-day Donor Symposium where potential donors and philanthropists of the community will be invited. The target fund for this first phase of the Foundation Fund is $2.5 million. The additional fundraising, phase two, will be aimed at other members of the community with a target fund of $2 million. The timeline set out to accomplish this is from May 2011 to September 2013, where investments are scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2012.


Note of Appreciation

conf5NASIMCO would like to take this opportunity to express its sincere thanks to the Muslim Foundation Inc. for the tremendous effort put into hosting the 31st Annual NASIMCO Conference in New Jersey. NASIMCO would also like to appreciate all the volunteers and behind-the-scenes workers for their time and commitment to making the Conference a success.