Annual Conference 2012 NASIMCO Post (Special Edition)


32nd Annual NASIMCO Conference 2012


Theme: "Islamic Education in a New Era"

The 32nd Annual NASIMCO Conference took place on Saturday, June 9th, 2012. It was hosted by the Islamic Jaffaria Center Inc. at the Hilton Garden Inn, Fort Lauderdale in Florida. The Conference was well-attended by member Jamaats, educators, delegates, invitees and guests.   

Group Pic 


Address by President of NASIMCO

GN_2012The 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, in particular, the Zainabiya Child Sponsorship Scheme in Haiti which has sponsored 60 children since its inception in January of this year. He elaborated on the development of the Capacity Building Programs, on current initiatives such as the e-Learning project and the Skills and Census Database. With this overview of NASIMCO's activities, the President thanked his Executive Council and staff for the support and hard work they had shown throughout the year. He then deliberated at some length about the theme that had been chosen for this year's Conference, emphasizing the need for attention to Islamic Education, especially among the youth of the community. He stated NASIMCO's commitment to the Madrasah Center of Excellence project being undertaken by The World Federation and hoped the deliberations of the conference would be a building block to moving forward on this initiative in North America.  



Address by the President of The World Federation     


MoledinaDr. Asgharali Moledina expressed his endorsement for the theme of the NASIMCO Conference and spoke at some length about the Madrasah Center of Excellence, which has taken on a formal structure since its inception and is working towards making its objectives a reality. He then went on to detail aspects of the World Federation Foundation Fund, joined by Br Sadique Jaffer who emphasised the importance of the Foundation Fund and the benefits that its success would yield.


Presentation on Knowing Your Rights     


Br Mohamed Sabur, from Muslim Advocates, made a presentation on interacting with law enforcement and protecting oneself at the border. After giving some background on Muslim Advocates and their work, Br Mohamed shed light on surveillance and intelligence gathering. He presented some statistics and details about the way in which surveillance has affected Muslim organizations. He emphasized that organizations should talk to an attorney before speaking with law enforcement. And finally, Br Mohamed gave tips for dealing with agents at the border and showed a short video clip to demonstrate the advice given, such as knowing what to expect, letting agents know if questions are inappropriate, asking for a supervisor if necessary and keeping a record of what happens.


Discussion Forums

Challenges in Educating Children in Islamic Teachings - Br Naushad Mehrali


NaushadBr Naushad Mehrali, Head of the Madrasah Center of Excellence with The World Federation, spoke about the current challenges in educating children in Islamic teachings by firstly defining what Islamic education is. Many scholars have agreed that the formation of moral character and behaviour (known as tarbiya) is central to Islamic education. This meant not merely acquiring knowledge, but being morally transformed by it. Br Naushad then went on to talk about the different forms in which this type of education can or should be achieved. Among these were the home, the weekend Islamic schools and the pulpit, and the challenges faced in each of these forms of education. One of the key challenges he addressed was that of the perception of Islamic schools in the community, whether it be at the parent level, the Jamaat Executive level or among the youth themselves. And finally, Br Naushad Mehrali elaborated on some of the ways in which to address and meet these challenges, including the implementation of key standards, formal processes of evaluation, a global curriculum framework and the sharing of best practices.


Changing Times and Adapting to New Teaching Techniques - Dr. Hasnain Walji


HWaljiDr. Hasnain Walji, past President of The World Federation, spoke about changing times and adapting to new teaching techniques. He began his speech with the important lesson that the challenges of today cannot be addressed with the solutions of yesterday. On this note, he went on to elaborate on the ways in which the challenges that come with changing times can be met. He gave an overview of the way in which technology has changed through the generations and the impact it has had on the youth of today. From this, it became immediately evident that teaching techniques also had to be adapted. Teaching today has to be interesting, fun, inspiring and hold promise of a future desirable reward. The current generation consists of more self-directed learners and it should be our objective to create critical thinkers and change our mindsets about how Islam should be taught.


eLEARN: eLearning - Edification and Achievement in Religion by NASIMCO


HKarimBr Hasnain Karim addressed the conference and began with a brief update about the eLearning project so far. To date, the eLEARN team has come together to create the project charter, has completed the project plan document and published the Request for Proposals. Looking forward to the next stage, Br Hasnain Karim took the conference through sample elearning sites, webinars and actual multimedia content to replicate the way in which the eLEARN portal would operate. And finally, he addressed the question of where the material for the portal would come from. Available text material will be used, a team of scholars will be engaged, new material will be developed and there will be collaboration with existing weekend Islamic schools.



After the keynote addresses, the Conference attendees were split into two groups for the workshops. The objective of the first workshop was to identify how Islamic schools can be given higher priority within the community and what resources are needed to achieve this. Among the factors identified here were: greater parental involvement, involving of learned scholars, relevant curriculum, additional learning time and upgraded facilities.


The objective of the second workshop was to identify what lessons can be learned from the experiences in Islamic Education thus far and how our learning practices can be moved to the next level. Among the factors identified here were: a unified curriculum, a full review of delivery methods to student-lead learning, discipline, scouts programs and a structured framework to get parents' 'buy-in'.


Member Communication  

Each member Jamaat in attendance at the conference had a chance to share a best practice or put forward a recommendation or appeal to NASIMCO and its general membership. The following is a brief summary of presentations made:


-          Allentown Jamaat (Shia Ithnasheri Jamaat of Pennsylvania)

The Allentown Jamaat presented their proposal for a Burial Assistance Plan. They are looking to create their own plan, starting with money from lenders and donors for a reserve fund with benefits payable on a 5-year vesting schedule. They also have plans to begin an initiative for burial with the Life Insurance Policy where NASIMCO or the local Jamaat can be the beneficiary

-          Buffalo Jamaat (Jaffarya Islamic Center of Niagara Frontier, Inc.)

The Buffalo Jamaat gave a presentation about their newly built center and the various activities that they are organizing. Examples are camps, azadari, Sunday school, picnic, interfaith events, iftaars and sports. They expressed their needs with relation to a cemetery

-          Kitchener Jamaat (Islamic Shia Ithna-Asheri Jamaat of Kitchener-Waterloo)

The Kitchener Jamaat presented a report on their proposed center for religious and social activities. She gave a brief overview of the center's history, which is a growing one due in part to the location of large companies in the Kitchener area. A site plan was shown to the conference along with various details about the center  

-          London Jamaat (Al Mahdi Al Muntadhar Union)

The London Jamaat presented a report of their various activities and the multi cultural membership they serve.

-          Maryland Jamaat (Imam Mehdi Education Center)

The Maryland Jamaat gave an overview of their center and the various facilities incorporated therein such as a swimming pool, tennis courts and segregated halls. Photos of the center were shown to the conference

-          Miami Jamaat (Islamic Jaffaria Association Inc.)

The Miami Jamaat firstly expressed their pleasure at being able to host the 2012 NASIMCO Conference and welcomed the guests to their city and center. They went on to talk about their various activities and Madrasah

-          New Jersey Jamaat (Muslim Foundation Inc.)

The New Jersey Jamaat hosted the NASIMCO Annual Conference 2011 and since that time, their center has been completed with a ghusl room and they have taken on the services of a resident alim. The center has hosted interfaith meetings, organized blood drives and taken part in 'Muslims Against Hunger' campaigns. They have also launched a solar power initiative, the benefits, challenges and investment opportunities of which were presented to the conference

-          Orlando Jamaat (Husseini Islamic Center)

The Orlando Jamaat informed the conference about the various properties they have purchased and their future plans for them. Two of the properties have already been leased on a long-term basis. The purchase of a fourth property is being finalised

-          Ottawa Jamaat (Islamic Shia Ithnasheri Jamaat of Ottawa)

The Ottawa Jamaat gave some background about their center and then presented some ways in which NASIMCO could help them. Among these were continuing the Resident Alim grant, assisting the center with the specific needs of their youth, sharing success stories and best practices and synchronizing the madrasah system with others across North America

-          Toronto Jamaat (Islamic Shia Ithnasheri Jamaat of Toronto)

The Toronto Jamaat spoke about their multi-purpose center and the many facilities available. They made a plea for donations towards the paying of their outstanding debt and invited all Jamaats to visit their center

Programs and Reports


The reports session consisted of the Secretariat Report, the Capacity Building Report, the NASIMCO Census and Skills Database Report and the Women's Needs Assessment Report under WF. Sr. Saajida Rhemtulla briefly reported on the various initiatives undertaken by the NASIMCO Secretariat over the past year. This year had seen a rise in fundraising and relief efforts and the respective responses to NASIMCO appeals from over North America. In particular, emphasis had been placed on the Zainabiya Child Sponsorship Scheme in Haiti which provides education, room and board to children affected by the earthquake. Sr Saajida also spoke about the financial assistance being provided by NASIMCO for education scholarships, Resident Alim grants, camp assistance and economic hardship. And finally, she elaborated on the improved communication and transparency between NASIMCO and member Jamaats and NASIMCO and the wider community.


Cap_buildingCouncilor Siddika Jessa began her report with the hadith of Imam Ali (AS) "You humans think you are insignificant when there is a whole universe contained within you". She spoke about how the Capacity Building programs bring out the potential of each participant and called upon two participants of the Minnesota Leadership Development Program to share their experiences and testimonials. The two participants, namely Br Aliredha Walji and Sr Fatema Walji gave their perspectives on the various parts of the programs that had impacted them and how they had used the experience in their everyday lives. Sr Siddika encouraged Jamaats to get in touch with NASIMCO to give their members the chance to benefit from these programs.


Councilor Raza Dhanji delivered a report about the progress of the Census and Skills Database form over the past year. He began by launching the published directory that each participant of the conference had received. The directory was put together from the forms submitted and included data from 438 families in total. He spoke about the challenges that had been encountered along the way, such as poor collection despite continuous reminders, the importance of the forms not being conveyed to the Jamaats and missing information on many forms. Br Raza Dhanji pointed out that while the current directory was a huge achievement, there was a lot that could be done to improve it. He made recommendations for a second phase of the project.


shyroseCouncilor Shyrose Jaffer Dhalla spoke about the Women's Needs Assessment under WF. She reported on the action plans in place for key areas, which included marriage, divorce, widows, education, health, social and jamaat issues and focussed particularly on the latter. Sr Shyrose made the case that women should enjoy voting rights in the Jamaat, participation, representation and leadership within our communities. She elaborated on some of the strategies that the team is putting in place to achieve their goals and an action plan for the entire community, which included an outreach program, meaningful opportunities being created and the ensuring of multiple avenues of participation.



The Election Chairperson elected at the conference was Dr. Hasnain Walji of Los Angeles and assistant was Br Sabi Ahsan of Toronto. The Election results are as follows:


President - Br Gulamabbas Najafi (Toronto)

Vice President - Br Shabir Karim (Minnesota)

Treasurer - Br Syed Imtiaz Naqvi (Toronto)

Councilor from Tier 5 - Sr Shyrose Jaffer Dhalla (Toronto)

Councilor from Tier 3 - Sr Siddika Jessa (Vancouver)

Councilor from Tier 2 - Br Sadique Jaffer (New York)

At-Large Councilors:

-          Br Hussein Ismail (New York)

-          Dr. Mohsin Jaffer (Miami)

-          Br Mustafa Karim (New Jersey)

-          Br Mazahir Ali (Miami)


Note: The President elect, Br Gulamabbas Najafi later nominated Habib M Habib of Seattle to the position of Secretary General who was confirmed at the 1st Executive Council meeting..

Note of Appreciation

NASIMCO would like to take this opportunity to express its sincere thanks to the Islamic Jaffaria Association Inc. for the tremendous effort put into hosting the 32nd Annual NASIMCO Conference in Miami. 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.