Conferences and Speakers:
A Partial Primer
Revised, October 2004
Still a Draft Copy Needs to be Revised
Discusses how and why Muslims should organize conferences, seminars and public get-togethers. Provides instructions on the correct Islamic etiquette and procedures when inviting guest speakers to come and give lectures on these occasions.
A much needed guide on the subject. An insightful and practical treatment of Islam using this particular context. One of a kind and extremely useful. Makes easy and interesting reading.
Should we or should we not make this document public, that has been the big question on my mind for quite some time. This is something I started to write months, even years, before September 2001. In one form or another it has remained in private circulation for years.
There is no getting away from the fact that for years and years I was unhappy with the way some of us did certain things in the name of Islam and Muslims. I wanted things done better – more professionally; with greater candour and openness; and with a greater sense of accountability. In a word, more Islamically. Because, Islam to me is the best and finest way of doing things – anything and everything.
The topic of conferences, conventions and speakers has been a big one on my mind for a long time. The horror stories I have seen and heard are too many to recount. The question becomes what do you do about it? Do you keep complaining and griping forever or do you do something practical and useful to fix things, to make things better? I think I have done a bit of both.
I have managed, from time to time, to put down some of my ideas in writing. That is what you are reading right now – a collection of ideas on this topic – conferences and speakers – that I trapped in words whenever the opportunity and the occasion arose.
That is why this is far from a complete or comprehensive manual on the subject. I call it a Partial Primer because there are a number of aspects of this issue that this booklet does not cover. And the reason for it, as always, is the pressure of time and resources. If Allah grants me time and resources, I would like to write a fairly comprehensive guidebook on this subject at some time in the future, or quite possibly revise and update this one.
In the meantime, I hope and pray Allah will make this booklet useful to those who read it. My goal is to make things better for the Muslims – and for the non-Muslims. And to make Islam better understood – and appreciated – by all.
Whatever success Allah grants me in that I am grateful to him for that.
- The Only Way to Do Things
- Purity of Intention: Where it all Begins
- But a Convention, Why?
- Some Ideas You Can Use
- Nothing but the best
- Full Disclosure
- More on Guest Speakers
- Speaker’s Work-related Needs
- Other Assistance and a Serious Taboo
- How to Treat the Audience
- How to Treat Non-Muslims
- Whatever Happened to Cleanliness?
1. The Only Way to Do Things
So, my dear brothers and sisters, you have a program and you want a guest speaker! How nice! How wonderful!
Mashallah! is what we say when we see something good and wonderful happening. We can always say “Wow!” but as anyone can see, Mashallah! has an edge. Mashallah! gives us more.
Islam, as you know, is the best. Best in every way you can think of. Therefore, everything you do in the name of Islam has got to be the best. And you have to work hard to make it so – within your own abilities, circumstances and resources. You don’t have a choice.
What you do, therefore, is either the best – or it is almost not Islam.
This includes the seminars and conferences you organize and the speakers and performers you invite. Here are some ideas on how to go about getting guest speakers for your program the right and proper way, the Islamic way I should say – and, if you ask me, the only way.
I am saying the only way, because the world is a competitive place. In a competitive environment, the things that are successful are often the ones that are the best. They are the things that are really useful. So Islam offers the world the ultimate goodness in everything. It offers the pinnacle of excellence. With regard to everything we do or need, it offers us the right and the best way of doing things. That is why I call it not just the best way but the only way.
It is a different matter that some of us may not have this sense of Islam as the best and the finest practical way of doing things. Or some others among us may think that Islam is the best “religion,” whatever that means, while they see some of the latest corporate developments as being the best in practical terms.
It is also likely that some others among us may know what is and what is not the best and the right way of doing things. But they may reserve their best for their dealings with the world of non-Islam – what they consider to be non-Islam – while giving Islam and the so-called Islamic work their second best.
But let us not worry about that. Let us just do what we can do – what we need to do. And let us do it to the best of our abilities. The rest of the world will take care of itself. And Allah will take care of his world. He always has.
Therefore, let us right now, you and I, begin and build a new culture of excellence, honor, grace, style, class and dignity in the things we do as Muslims and using the beautiful name of Islam. A culture where we offer and accept nothing but the best in the name of Islam and Muslims! Much the same way as we expect, demand, if only we could, and accept nothing but the best for ourselves and our families! Much as the non-Muslim world around us in the West – at least in theory – would not accept from us manners, conduct, performance, products, output or culture which is not the best from its own point of view.
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