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With between 2500 to 3000 American Shias--a diverse gathering  of all shades and colors and backgrounds--from different states participating in the very first UMAA Convention, held at Grand Hyatt Regency Hotel at Washington DC on the Memorial weekend ( May 23-25), it was an overwhelming experience.. To quote Dr. Hasnain Walji, President of World Khoja Ithna Ashri Federation, it was a phenomenal event, the first of its kind. Syed Mazhar Jafri of Chicago and many other participants called it the first Shia convention ever held.

Br. Partomeh (an Iraqi Kurd leader) went further. He said that he had never seen some thing like this in the Shia world. He called it the first Shia Convention in the world. Imam Hasan Qazwini (L.A.) and Shaikh Hasham (MI) also called it the First Shia Convention. It was spectacular--  a heart-moving experience indeed, to see the Shia families, parents and children-- young and old even babies, who had traveled from as far as Texas, California and Louisiana.  A
brother had tears in his eyes while expressing his enthusiasm for being there and witnessing the happy and radiant faces of the participants. A volunteer broke down in tears, when the Program Manager patted him on the back for the good work he and his colleagues were doing. Amanat Ali, the Security Chief, another volunteer from New York was speechless, with moist eyes when an organizer admired his tireless dedication.

Sister Rukhsana from New Jersey, a Director of the Muslim Foundation, New Jersey said the UMAA convention had laid the foundation for support for Shia families that will help keep our youth within our value system; our youth, she said,  will look forward to coming to the convention every year. Another lady who came to the podium during the feedback session at the conclusion of the convention said that she was over-whelmed with the experience and that she had discovered old friends at the convention.

Dr. Walji said that he met several old friends who he had not seen in years and had made new friends. Iqbal Naqvi (NJ) of UMAA and his wife were delighted to meet their one time neighbors, Dr. and Mrs Jamil Asghar Arastu (PA) after 13 years.  A young girl, Farrah Khan from Chicago said that UMAA had filled a long-awaited need and like many others she volunteered her time to work for UMAA in the future. The Program Agenda of the UMAA Program was admired by the participants for its diversity of the topics and variety of quality speakers.

The four main sessions two each on Saturday and Sunday  were fully packed all the time in the session, nobody leaving during the sessions. Additionally the daily six workshops, covering myriad subjects, both for the youth and the old, attracted good numbers. The stalls in the hallways and in the Exhibition Room with a variety of things, books, clothes, jewelry and videos and an Islamic Art exhibition were added attractions. The youth and children were provided sight-seeing tours on both days.

The local Idara-e-Jafria very kindly hosted a dinner for the guests at their premises in Maryland. UMAA provided 8 buses to transport guests to and from Hyatt Regency.
The Program concluded with a Banquet on Sunday night at the Hotel, which was attended and addressed by Abbas Mirakhor, the Executive Director, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the U.S. the Deputy Secretary Defense, Paul Wolfowitz. Whereas Mr. Mirakhor enthused the audience with his remarks inspired by Rumi's mysticism while greeting the audience for arranging this event, Paul Wolfowitz congratulated the organizers and UMAA on organizing the first convention of Shias in the United States and for making their voice heard. He encouraged
the audience to get involved because through participation they will make a difference.           

Towards the end of the meeting a special note of thanks was placed on record in a full session by the convener, Dr. Parvez Shah, to express gratitude of UMAA and its associates to all those who had cooperated and  worked hard to get the message across to the Shias nationwide in such a short period of time. Dr. Shah thanked the participants for the big turn over and his colleagues and associates at UMAA who had worked hard to make this happen. He announced, amidst a big applause, that UMAA will hold its  2nd Annual UMAA Convention at
Washington DC on the Memorial weekend (May 2004).

Audio/Video of the Convention.


These files can only be viewed using Windows Media Player and cannot be downloaded. 


Session 1  -  Session 2  -  Session 3  






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