Youth Programs Director Gihad Ali was invited to participate in the annual conference of the National Council of Nigerian Muslim Organizations. CIOGC member, the Nigerian Islamic Association, was the host organization this year. Known as “Platform” and held at the Westin O’Hare Hotel December 24-28, 2015, “during which youths and adults assemble with the purpose of improving their understanding of Islam while building a sense of community,” the conference attracted over 1000 people from all across the country.
Ms. Ali spoke on two panels at Platform. The first was a presentation on non-traditional careers for over 80 youth ages 16-20 in attendance. Joining Ms. Ali on the panel were Sheikh Rachid Belbachir, Abdul Afees Dairo, Ndidi Okakpu, and Laila Muhammad, who collectively offered advice on pursuing meaningful careers, balancing higher education with religious education, and learning to manage time so that one is accountable to community, family, and self.
One hundred parents attended the second panel, titled “Educating and Protecting Our Youth.” Habeeb Quadri, Laila Muhammad, and Ms. Ali addressed several parent concerns, including issues of police brutality and racism against black people, as well as anti-Muslim sentiments. In addition, the panelists addressed communication, respect, and friendship between child and parent.
Ms. Ali also led a workshop at the MAS-ICNA convention, held December 26-28, 2015, at McCormick Place in Chicago, and attended by over 15,000 people. Billed as “one of the largest and most diverse Islamic conventions in North America,” it was a powerful opportunity for Ms. Ali to introduce her work to a number of the most prominent American Muslims in the U.S. and Canada. Her presentation—“Tackling Community Issues: Taking the Holistic Approach”—focused on the respective strengths and limitations of direct service, education, advocacy, and community organizing as ways to effect change in the community.