The Crescent Report

April 29, 2010

A Day at the CSID Conference, A Day Well Spent

Filed under: From the Desk of Imam Mahdi Bray — Imam Mahdi Bray @ 3:01 pm

Yesterday I decided to get away from the never ending work at MAS Freedom, reduce some personal stress, and relax.  So what did I do?  I spent the entire day at the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy (CSID) 11th Annual Conference.  This marvelous event brought political experts, scholars and leaders from the US and Muslim world together to Washington, D.C. to give presentations, debate issues and promote strategies vital to the real interests of our nation and the Muslim world.

The polemics were framed within the conference theme ‘US Relations with the Muslim World: One Year After Cairo.’  Dr. Radwan Masmoudi, President of the CSID, and Professor Peter Mandaville of George Mason University, the program Chair and a rock star among Islamic Studies academicians, welcomed the conference participants.

Following the welcome, there was a panel presentation on ‘Perspectives on Muslim Engagement’ which featured a high energy presentation by the U.S. State Department Special Representative to the Muslim Community, Farah Anwar Pandith.  Ms. Pandith while representing the Obama administration policy toward the Muslim world,, did provide refreshing room for self criticism and pushback.   Speakers in the session provided varied assessments of the President Obama’s speech to the Muslim world from Cairo, and highlighted both the expectations raised in the address and the impact of the speech on US relations with the Muslim world.

However, the reality check came at the luncheon.  At the table, I was joined by MAS Executive Director Hossam Al-Jabri of Boston, Dr. Welton Gaddy, Executive Director of the Interfaith Alliance and a very interesting sister from Bangladesh who took great pride in the role that women play in the governance of her country.  I swiftly consumed an excellent salad and pasta dish while listening to speeches by the dynamic duo, Professor Tariq Ramadan and Reza Aslan.  They were introduced by Congressman Keith Ellison, the Democratic representative from the 5th Congressional District of Minnesota.llison.  I’m sure my readers remember Congressman Ellison;  he’s the Congressman who took his ceremonial oath on the Quran owned by Thomas Jefferson.

As I listened to the dynamic duo, I heard a sober critique of US policy that is often at variance with a stated value of Democracy, the fallacy of the war in Iraq and currently in Afghanistan, the importance of Islamic movements, pluralism and open and transparent governance in autocratic regimes in the Muslim world that are allied with the US.  In the meantime, while enjoying a fabulous dessert, I reflected on Professor Ramadan’s comments on the importance of the African American experience in the body politic of America as well as its significance in the American Muslim community.

I concluded my day with informative parallel sessions and a plenary session that included Salah Ali Abdulrahman, Member of Representative Council of Bahrain and of the Islamic National Party, along with Professor Mecham of George Washington University.  During the final break before the concluding remarks by Rashad Hussain, President Obama’s Special Envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, I ran into Nihad Awad of CAIR and secured a much needed ride home.  We both exchanged comments on the significance of CSID and the conference.

Having learned as a result of my attendance at the conference that Muslim countries are better referred to as Muslim majority states, I traveled home with Nihad feeling fully relaxed and rested.  Yes, I know that only a beltway political junkie could understand the relaxation that one can experience by attending a function with gravitas like the CSID Conference.    But like observing a splendid piece of art, I was stimulated and as we say in the “hood”, completely “chilled”.

CSID is a serious player in the arena of US and foreign policy vis-a-vis the Muslim world.  The American Muslim community and its leadership really need to support this important institution.  Look what it did for me.  Thank you CSID.  You made my day.

Imam Mahdi Bray

Quote of the Day:

“No person can make another person free. Freedom is something internal.  All you can do is give the opportunity for the freedom and the individual must make his own emancipation.”


1 Comment »

  1. That is so true about Freedom being internal. In life, I seek Freedom to be who I was before I was born. I am a documentary filmmaker. I would like to interview Madhi Bray. Please email me so that I can provide detailed information.

    Comment by Layla — April 30, 2010 @ 10:43 am

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