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33rd Annual NASIMCO Conference 2013


 NASIMCO Post (Special Edition)

"Strengthening Families, Building Community"


The 33rd Annual NASIMCO Conference took place on Saturday, May 4th, 2013. It was hosted by the Shia Ithnasheri Islamic Jamaat of Los Angeles at the La Habra Community Center in La Habra, California. The Conference was well-attended by member Jamaats, delegates, invitees and guests.  
After recitation of the Holy Quran, the President of the Host Jamaat,  Br Khalil Dewji, opened the conference by welcoming the delegates and guests from all over North America.


Address by President of NASIMCO


Conference LA_GN In his address to the conference, the President of NASIMCO, Al-Haj Gulamabbas Najafi, welcomed all the delegates and guests to the conference and expressed his pleasure at seeing Jamaat representatives. He touched upon the fact that this year, NASIMCO came face-to-face with challenges in the implementation of various procedural changes that were required for government compliance in the transfer of funds. He thanked the new Treasurer, Syed Imtiaz Naqvi, for his help and guidance in overcoming these challenges and was happy to report that considerable progress had been made in this regard.


The President also updated the conference on the development of the Al Mahdi Center project in Haiti where land has been purchased for the reconstruction of the Islamic orphanage that was damaged during the earthquake in 2010. More recently, relief efforts have included the Pakistan Genocide Relief Appeal. Br Gulamabbas Najafi expressed NASIMCO's distress at the suffering of the families of those who have fallen victim to the brutal and unwarranted attacks. NASIMCO continues to collect funds to assist those who are injured and he appealed to member Jamaats to raise funds for this cause among their respective memberships. 


The President then spoke about the theme of this year's conference. It has often been claimed that many of the challenges faced by our community today have their roots at the 'family' level. This year's conference, he explained, aimed to take a bottom-up approach. Perhaps, he surmised, if we are able to strengthen our family units by offering the correct resources and services, we may see that the by-product is a stronger, more united, more progressive community.



Conference LA_Head Table
From left to right: Syed Imtiaz Naqvi (Treasurer, NASIMCO), Br Shabir Karim (Vice President, NASIMCO), Br Gulamabbas Najafi (President, NASIMCO), Br Habib M. Habib (Secretary General, NASIMCO), Br Munawer Rattansey (Vice President, The World Federation)


Message from the President of The World Federation    


Al-Haj Dr. Asgharali Moledina was, unfortunately, unable to attend this year's NASIMCO Conference and expressed his regrets in his message to the conference. He also acknowledged NASIMCO's support for The World Federation and assistance in resolving a number of matters. Dr. Moledina counselled the conference towards unity and then commended the theme of the conference. The community, he said, can play a significant role in ensuring that there are adequate programs and provisions to ensure the continued spiritual growth of these families. The message ended with a dua for a fruitful and vibrant conference that would further prepare the community for the arrival of the beloved Imam of our time.

Address by Vice-President of The World Federation 

Conference LA_Munawer The Vice President of The World Federation, Al-Haj Munawer Rattansey, began his address by noting the relevance of the conference theme to the workings of The World Federation of KSIMC and its moto: We Exist to Serve. He then went on to brief the conference about some of the key activities that The World Federation is currently undertaking. The first among these were the efforts being made towards the Eradication of Poverty. Br Munawer touched on the various ways in which The World Federation was trying to achieve this goal, including Housing Projects in conjunction with Africa Federation, Microfinance projects, the provision of education in several parts of the world and, linked with this, the Zainabiya Child Sponsorship Scheme. The Vice President then went on to speak about another key project of The World Federation: The Madrassah Center of Excellence (MCE). He elaborated on the four workstreams, namely Curriculum Development, Teacher Training, Learning Resources and Assessment and Evaluation. Thus far the response has been positive and the initiative is progressing steadily.


Two upcoming initiatives that Br Munawer also discussed briefly concerned the World Federation's aim to connect the international community are the Business and Professionals Directory and the Generation Plan. He mentioned and commended the work of Media team who made a substantial contribution to the External Relations of The World Federation. The Vice President then spoke at some length regarding the Ramadhan Relief Appeal, thanking Jamaats for their support and explaining how the funds were utilized. He ended by describing the efforts of The World Federation to meet community-wide challenges such as marriage, economic and political challenges.


Dialogue and Discussion


In keeping with the conference theme of Strengthening Families, Building Community, three couples from difference phases of life had been invited to share their life experiences. The purpose was to generate discussion on how best families can address challenges and optimize opportunities in North American society.


Conference LA_Panelists 

The Conversationalists were Br Mujahid and Sr Hanna Chandoo (young couple), Br Mujtaba and Sr Seema Ali (parents of youth), and Dr. Mohsin and Sr Nasreen Ali (empty-nesters). The dialogue was a fruitful one, with several issues coming to light. Of these, the first was that of finding a suitable spouse for marriage. From the discussion that ensued on this subject, it was clear that younger members of the community perceive this as a challenge and that although the Jamaat and community do play a role in the process, it is often a covert one. The discussion yielded the outcome that, in order to make Jamaats more instrumental in the spouse selection process, they need to facilitate workshops, retreats or sessions within an Islamic environment.


Another important outcome purported by parents of youth was that the lines of communication between parents and their growing children should be kept open, regardless of topic. In addition, youth today look for the reasoning and explanations behind the rules that are being laid down for them. Jamaats can assist by firstly promoting forums and discussions among parents of youth, and secondly by holding communication or development workshops for both the youth and parents. The topic of youth engagement within the community was also raised by the moderator, which lead to the awareness that the way youth are treated by the leaders of the community has a large role to play in how engaged the youth will be. 


When a home becomes a so-called 'empty nest', a series of emotions are experience by parents, which were explored to some extent by the oldest conversationalists on the panel. Ideas for coping with such feelings were shared. The discussion then moved to the way in which the community could benefit from the time that couples found when their children left home. Time, it was determined, is often the most valuable thing that can be offered. Youth and parents of youth seldom have enough time with their various commitments whereas 'empty-nesters' are able to offer this.


Other discussion points that were raised included the issue of language and the importance of maintaining other languages besides English; and challenges in the generation gap between parents and children and support that the community can offer to bridge this.


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:


- London Jamaat (Al Mahdi Al Muntadhar Union) 

The London Jamaat updated the conference on their newly completed Ghusl/Kaffan area and other renovation work undertaken over the past year. The center is still fundraising for phase 2 of the project

- Los Angeles Jamaat (Shia Ithnasheri Islamic Jamaat of Los Angeles)

The Los Angeles Jamaat's presentation focussed on the strength and involvement of the youth within the community. Youth are continuously encouraged to take positions of leadership, run with ideas and are provided support as they go through different phases in their lives

- Maryland Jamaat (Imam Mehdi Education Center)

The Maryland Jamaat made a presentation, stressing the importance of the upbringing of children, from a very early age and how this directly impacts difficulties and challenges that arise later on

- Miami Jamaat (Islamic Jaffaria Association Inc.)

The Miami Jamaat shared best practices from their Madrassah, including an online Quran program and computer-based platform for the Madrassah curriculum. The Jamaat has also undertaken local interfaith work

- Minnesota Jamaat (Anjuman-e-Asghari)

Representatives of Anjuman-e-Asghari Jamaat shared a best practice from their center, which was the live conferencing of Alims to deliver lectures for their programs. Br Mohsin Kassam then gave a brief update on the status of the Anjuman-e-Asghari's capital project

- Minnesota Jamaat (Imam Hussain Islamic Center)

A representative of Imam Hussain Islamic Center briefly showcased the center. She then spoke about a new venture that is being undertaken by them in collaboration with Anjuman-e-Asghari, which is a medical clinic within the center

- New York Jamaat (Shia Ithnasheri Jamaat of New York)

The New York Jamaat is looking to embark on a project of investing in real estate to help create a source of income to maintain the center and assist with welfare needs of its members

- Seattle Jamaat (Ithnasheri Muslim Association of the Northwest)

The Seattle Jamaat presented some of their regular activities and initiatives, such as blood drives, Farsi classes, special children's programs that run simultaneously to the main lecture and an active social services program 

- Toronto Jamaat (Islamic Shia Ithnasheri Jamaat of Toronto)

The Toronto Jamaat shared an incident that had recently taken place in their community, which had placed them in the limelight witht he police and local media. The center was absolved of blame but it encouraged the Executive Committee to look internally at mitigating the risk of future incidents

- Vancouver Jamaat (Shia Muslim Communities of British Columbia)

The Vancouver Jamaat gave an overview of their center, school and madrassah. He then highlighted IT advancements such as online streaming of programs and the Az-Zahraa app for the iphone. Another advancement is the introduction of barcodes that are used on gravestones so that visiters to the grave can scan a barcode and get a photo and information about the deceased person, submitted by their family

Programs and Reports


The reports session consisted of the Secretariat Report, the Social Media and Good Governance of Non-Profits Report, the Capacity Building in North America Report, including the Leadership Development Report and the Youth Retreat Report; the WF Foundation Fund Status 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. 2013 has seen new successful new initiatives such as the Helpers of Husayn (AS) Blood Drive, which was well received throughout Jamaats in North America, with a total of 370 pints of blood being donated. The Secretariat also reported on the various relief efforts, especially the Ramadhan Relief Appeal of 1433 and the Fill My Cup Appeal. Sr Saajida apprised the conference of the improved communication and transparency between NASIMCO, its member Jamaats and the wider community.



Conference LA_Mujtaba Br Mujtaba Datoo delivered a report on the Board Orientation and Governance Seminars that are offered to incoming Executive Committees of Jamaats. The Orientation Seminars are aimed at assisting members with implementing best practices, managing expectations, defining roles and responsibilities and providing advice on Accountability and Transparency. They included information on maintaining a Registered Charity Status, record keeping, information on demographics for the Jamaat, setting timelines, sub committees and ad hoc committees, crisis management and security, to name a few. The program is a powerful one in that it provides Jamaat leaderships with a tangible framework within which to undertake their various activities.



Councilor Siddika Jessa began her presentation with a short video on 'World Class People'. She then posed a poignant question regarding how much money or time Jamaats spend on their resources. Money is often spent on structures and community centers but training members of the community is rarely invested in. Sr Siddika opened up the floor to ask attendees of the conference who had attended a LDP to give their feedback about it. Three different people shared their experiences, all of them focussing on how the program had helped them in both their personal and professional lives. Sr Siddika referred the conference to the reports of the LDP in Minnesota and Allentown, which were included in the conference binder. She also advised the conference of the upcoming LDP in Vancouver, which will be the 8th program to be held in North America.


Conference LA_Youth Retreat Br Mohamedabbas Walli and Br Yaseer Moledina reported on the Youth Leadership Retreat under the Capacity Building Program. They explained that one of the key challenges among North American communities is youth apathy. The Youth Retreat creates a forum for youth to re-engage themselves and encourage them to offer their skills back to the community, thereby empowering the community. The Youth Leadership Retreat teaches youth to think outside the box and builds their Project Management skills. When the youth came back, they are motivated to mobilize initiatives within their communities. Br Mohamedabbas and Br Yaseer appealed to the Jamaat leaders to find their brightest youths and encourage and sponsor them to attend this year's Youth Retreat. The presentation ended with a trailer of this year's retreat.


Councilor Sadique Jaffer reported that in less than a year, The World Federation Foundation Fund team has raised a total of US$1.7 million. The Foundation Fund is ambitious to be a strategic investment fund in order to create the necessary income stream for the World Federation's long term growth and sustainability. The team is discussing with Br Muhammad Amarsi to chair the Investment Advisory Team, which would be responsible for identifying suitable investment. The team has a goal of reaching a seed capital amount of US$5 million within the next 12 months. Br Sadique requested and urged the conference for their moral and financial support. He explained that the funds for the WF Foundation Fund are deposited in a separate account of The World Federation.


Councilor Shyrose Jaffer Dhalla spoke about the Women's Needs Assessment under WF. The Women's Needs initiative involved firstly determining the challenges faced by women in our communities with the aim to promote the advancement of women. Once the needs had been determined, an action plan was put into place and the initiative is now in its third phase. This phase includes the implementation of the strategies. Sr Shyrose then continued to give a brief outline of activities undertaken in North America to advance women.


Conference LA_Ladies

Proposed Amendment to the NASIMCO Constitution

A proposed amendment to the NASIMCO Constitution had been tabled. After deliberations at the conference, the following amendment with the accompanying note was adopted unanimously:


Amendment to Article 4: Membership


2. For purpose of this clause membership shall be defined as those organizations established as religious, non-profit organizations, as recognized by the applicable local law and so registered with the local governmental bodies, and also have in their bylaws and/or constitution, women's right to cast their own vote and to hold office in any capacity in the organization. This clause will apply to new members effective from the moment this amendment is passed. 


RE: Membership


This conference strongly recommends the existing membership to review their constitution and endeavour to be in compliance. This recommendation shall be reviewed at the next Annual Conference in 2014.

Note of Appreciation


Conference LA_SIIJLA NASIMCO would like to take this opportunity to express its sincere thanks to the Shia Ithnasheri Islamic Jamaat of Los Angeles for the tremendous effort put into hosting the 33rd Annual NASIMCO Conference in LA. 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.