Thousands to attend Muslim convention in Tinley Park
By Mike Nolan firstname.lastname@example.org August 30, 2013 8:32PM
Imam W. Deen Mohammed II poses with his wife, Robin, at the 24th annual Muslim Convention in Tinley Park. Mohammed is the grandson of former Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad. | Mike Nolan~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 2, 2013 6:36AM
As the parking lot of the Tinley Park Convention Center began filling for the 24th annual Muslim Convention, Imam W. Deen Mohammed II likened the three-day event to a “family reunion.”
As many as 5,000 Muslim faithful are expected to attend the convention, which, while still a spiritual celebration, has evolved to include activities such as financial planning workshops and seminars for young adult entrepreneurs.
The convention’s focus is to “really bring the national leadership and as many of the following out to see where we are and where we need to be,” said Mohammed II, a Richton Park resident and grandson of the former Nation of Islam leader Elijah Muhammad.
But the convention, first held in Tinley Park five years ago and open to the public, also features events such as a fashion show, children’s activities, a business expo and the New Africa Marketplace, showcasing a variety of product vendors. It continues through Sunday evening.
Sponsored by The Mosque Cares in East Hazel Crest, of which Imam Mohammed II is president, the convention has carried on some initiatives in the black Muslim community that his father, Warith Deen Mohammed, helped bring about while adding others to make it more inclusive, Mohammed II said. The title imam is similar to that of reverend or pastor.
Some of those efforts, in areas such as education and economic development, have broadened the ministry’s reach, he said.
“I see us as a facilitator,” he said.
His father was elected supreme leader of the Nation of Islam after Elijah Muhammad’s death in 1975. At the time of his father’s death in September 2008, a New York Times article noted that Warith Deen Mohammed had worked to lead a “more traditional and racially tolerant form of Islam for black Muslims,” shunning the vitriol that Elijah Muhammad had used toward whites.
Dropping the Nation of Islam name and later encouraging mosques to operate autonomously under the ministry of his son, Warith Deen Mohammed guided his followers more toward the religious mainstream and led prayers at both inaugurals of former President Bill Clinton, according to the Times story.
Others, such as Louis Farrakhan, who revived the name Nation of Islam, rejected those mainstream ambitions.
Mohammed II said the Tinley Park center was first used as the convention’s site five years ago, but the event was later held in New Jersey. The Muslim convention returned to Tinley Park following the convention center’s expansion, completed in the summer of 2011.
He said that, based on previous conventions, anywhere from 3,000 to 5,000 people could attend this weekend. In addition to filling hotel rooms nearby, the convention, through widespread advertising, helps to promote Tinley Park’s center, Mohammed II said.
For information regarding the convention and tickets, visit www.themosquecares.com or email email@example.com. Tickets can also be purchased at the door.