July 4th, 2010
09:14 PM ET

Female leaders speak at largest Muslim convention in U.S.

Editor's Note: CNN's Soraya Salam is attending this year's Islamic Society of North America Convention in Rosemont, Illinois and sent this report:

Four prominent female American Muslims were among the many speakers Saturday at the 47th annual Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) convention, thought to be the largest event for Muslims in the United States.

Among the women speakers were Debbie Almontaser, a longtime educator and founder of the Khalil Gibran International Academy in Brooklyn, New York; Robina Niaz, a social worker who founded the organization Turning Point for Women and Families to help domestic abuse victims in New York; and Tayyibah Taylor, editor-and-chief of Azizah Magazine, which aims to be the voice of Muslim women.

They described fulfilling dreams of making a positive impact on their communities by heeding their faith’s call to live a life of service to others.

In addition, Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan State Representative for the 12th House district, shared her experience leading a grassroots campaign and the major role her faith played in inspiring her towards activism. She was met with enthusiastic applause from the audience after stressing the saying of an Islamic scholar who told her, “After you take care the needs of your home, you must take care of the needs of your community.”

You can see streaming video from the conference here.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Islam • Leaders

soundoff (43 Responses)
  1. Logiczilla

    2 women in the picture are not wearing the hijab and all of them are showing their faces to men who are neither their husband, children or brothers. They will go to hell.

    July 12, 2010 at 3:12 pm |
  2. suleiman

    Sr Umme Omar may Allah bless u and all muslims. U've shown a perfect example of how a good muslim should react when in a debate with a non-believer. In any debate, when one party begins to utter abusive words, it shows that that particular party has run totally out of ideas. And umme remember too in our Holy Qur'an revealed to prophet Muhammad (S.A.W.): And those before them had plotted, but to Allah belongs the plan entirely. He knows what every soul earns, and the disbelievers will know for whom is the final home.

    July 11, 2010 at 10:56 am |
  3. bill constantine

    The biggest problelm with Islam is that everyone, women and men interpret the Koran in their own way, and please do not say that it is not so..Men can take more then one wife, can divorce a women very easy. stone the women but not the men..Religion sucks in many places because people get power from it..and a living...Just loving your fellow man and have respect for them is not enough for everyone...When was the last time that you told someone in your family that you loved them? gave them a hug...helped some one out of the way...I am for the serpas for the moslem women to cover their face, but from the neck down they should be naked...I love them....Nevgreco..

    July 7, 2010 at 11:24 am |
    • Lydi

      To say that is no different as saying that all Christian women should wear prayer caps and be naked, except for that. That is a rather disrespectful, objectifying remark. As a woman, regardless of belief, I am ofended by that comment.

      July 7, 2010 at 11:40 am |
  4. waseem bangash

    You must study the detailed interpretion of koran verses before quoting them or forming opinion/understanding. When koran says for man full share and woman half of that in inheretance, it is becuase man has the entire responsibility of taking care of wife and children while woman can opt not to work. Also woman after marriage has full share in husband property and similarly other logical reasons. Please study the complete interpretation of every verse of koran, before forming your opinion. Thanks.

    July 7, 2010 at 6:48 am |
    • Reality


      The OT/Torah and NT have been analyzed by hundreds of historians over the last 200 years. Said analyses have resulted in exposing the myths and embellishments of these books. Said analyses have also resulted in books like the new Torah for modern minds and Thomas Jefferson's bible. Unfortunately, the same has not been done to the koran. Until it is, no Muslim male can be trusted because of the passages supposedly revealed by mythical Gabriel to some warmongering, womanizing (11 wives), con man Arab named Mohammed demands male domination of females and world by any means.

      July 7, 2010 at 10:53 am |
    • Lydi

      And you are absolutely certain, because you are Muslim and have studied with EVERY Imam, that there are absolutely NO revisions or commentary on the Quran? Unless one is living the religion and culture one professes to "know," one does not.

      July 7, 2010 at 11:38 am |
    • Reality


      We await any references that show that the koran is being analyzed and rewritten to reflect its myths and embellishments.

      July 7, 2010 at 6:03 pm |
  5. Lydi

    One should not confuse Faith and Belief with Doctrine and Religious Politics. They are simply not the same. The latter cause innumerable hardships for the former.

    July 6, 2010 at 4:43 pm |
  6. Lydi

    I feel the need, as a Christian, to chime in on belief. There are PLENTY of Christian churches that profess ideas other denominations do not. Saying that only fundamental Islam is the "true" practice of the faith would be like saying that ONLY fundamental Chirstianity is the "true" practice of Christianity. That would mean that I, as a Christian woman, could not work outside of my home, if my husband chose not to allow be as "men are in subjugation of their wives," which is not a wholly accurate interpretation of New Testament scripture.

    Also, if a non-Christian were to use phrases such as "absolute lies" when told by a Christian what the typically regarded tenants of Christianity were, that would be seem as incredibly disrespectful. However, it has been done in this forum by Christians to Mulsims. By the way, that is also an afront to Christian teaching that states we are to be tolerant, accepting and respectful of others.

    And then there is the idea that the Quran needs to be "rewritten." The same could, then, be said of the Christian Bible. After all, Islam, Judeism AND Christianity are all Abrahamic religions – we all started with the SAME 5 books. I invite any Christian to look that up! In fact, the Bible HAS, in a sense, been rewritten. The Counsil of Nicea took it upon themselves to determine what books would or would not be included in the accepted cannon and deemed ANYTHING not included to be heretical.

    BEFORE one goes spouting hate and intollerance at Islam, I suggest taking a good, hard look at your own religion. It is far from blameless either. After all, it was the Christians who waged 5 separate crusades on the Muslims.

    July 6, 2010 at 4:36 pm |
    • Reality

      The OT/Torah and NT have been analyzed by hundreds of historians over the last 200 years. Said analyses have resulted in exposing the myths and embellishments of these books. Said analyses have also resulted in books like the new Torah for modern minds and Thomas Jefferson's bible. Unfortunately, the same has not been done to the koran. Until it is, no Muslim male can be trusted because of the passages supposedly revealed by mythical Gabriel to some warmongering, womanizing (11 wives) Arab named Mohammed demands male domination of females and world by any means.

      July 7, 2010 at 10:50 am |
    • Lydi

      BEFORE one goes spouting hate and intollerance at Islam, I suggest taking a good, hard look at your own religion. It is far from blameless either. After all, it was the Christians who waged 5 separate crusades on the Muslims.

      July 7, 2010 at 11:34 am |
    • Frogstomp

      I am an atheist and whle I think Islam is the religion that is causing the most problems in the world today, christianity has been no picnic either, over the course of history. Do what you want to do, and believe what you want to believe, but I feel absolutely no obligation to be respectful of your superstitions, especially when they call for abuse or even murder of others.

      July 10, 2010 at 5:26 am |
    • Frogstomp

      I am an atheist so I am constained by having to explain or justify my own set of ridiculous ancient superstitions. It is so typical that you bring up "hate and intolerance" and the crusades.

      July 10, 2010 at 5:33 am |
    • Inas

      Lydi, one word, I have to say that I admire your open mind.... my brothers and sisters in humanity, the Quran is not like any other book, you have to understand that some of the translation of this great book is not right, i do speak both Arabic and English and i can see what is wrong and what was missing, look at the miracles that book spoke of which been recently discovered, and what really annoys me that God put all of that knowledge into the hand of an illiterate person Muhammad (Peace and Blessing be Upon him) to let people understand that this can never be written by him, how can i write when i can't even read.... open your mind freely before you jump into judging something, nobody would lose or gain but you when you open your mind....Islam respect all other religion, Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him) was never a womanizer, there is a story behind every one of his marriages and before he died he asked Muslim to treat their wives with mercy and insisted on it...dear friends, it took prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessing be upon him) 23 years to deliver the message of God, that can't be explained in few minutes, if you are interested you can go and search fruther....ask yourself why someone like "cat stevensen" would leave the fame, money and convert to Islam, just because Islam is stupid????? think again.... we Muslim loves every other person who has different beliefs and we are ordered to treat people in a nice way but without follwoing their leads....you have to undertand another thing, there is ahuge difference between religion and culture....the arranged marriage of instance is more of culteral thing, now Islam is different, Islam arranges for the first meeting between the man and the woman, if they like it, they meet again and again and if they like it they go with the engagement and if after few months of engagment things go right, they get married....now you are adopting the same style by creating eharmony.com right? but do you knwo what is the difference, on those website, you don't know who you are dealing with????? but in Islam, each one knows where the other came from and what past and present he/she has and best of all, the woman is staying at her own house, and the man is coming to see her with all respect.... please think again....such a subject requires far more studying than just throwing blames here and there and shooting in the air....always remember you are the winer or the loser of such a reserach....so make your decision...whether you believe in what I say, or you don't...trust I am not going to be affected.... and neither any of the Muslims.... Aslaam Alikum

      July 11, 2010 at 1:35 am |
  7. Umme Omar

    Allah is not a man nor is he a father. According to the Prophet Muhammad, heaven is under the feet of mothers.

    July 6, 2010 at 3:10 pm |
    • Reality

      Give it up Umme Omar, Mohammed was an illiterate, warmongering, womanizing Arab filled with the lust and greed for the riches of other kingdoms. He never spoke to some "wingie, thingie" named Gabriel. Bottom line, you are the victim of one of the biggest con games ever pulled.

      July 7, 2010 at 10:42 am |
    • Frogstomp

      We are all the victims

      July 10, 2010 at 5:21 am |
    • KERRY

      Reality and Frogstom do you have any PROOF for your words?

      Here's PROOF about ISLAM from another MUSLIM WOMAN 🙂




      July 12, 2010 at 11:50 am |
  8. Umme Omar

    According to Allah's ook Al-Quran, Jesus Christ (PBUH) was a servant and Prophet of Allah and he was Christ son of Merium. There is one who chapter 'Merium' in Quran. There is one who chapter "An-Nisa' dedicted to women in Quran. Ayesha (RA), the mother of Believers, was the 2nd biggest narrator of Hadeeth (Prophetic Traditions) after Abu Harairah in terms of number of traditions.

    July 6, 2010 at 3:08 pm |
  9. Umme Omar

    Muslim women can not only speak, they can write too 🙂 Sr. Sheima and I are just two of them.

    July 6, 2010 at 3:01 pm |
    • Umme Omar

      Benazeer Bhutto was the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Khalida Zia was the prime Minister of bangladesh. How many woman presidents did USA produce so far?

      July 6, 2010 at 3:03 pm |
    • Reality

      Benazeer Bhutto was the Prime Minister of Pakistan. Yes indeed she was and what happened to her? Assassinated for being a female? For being a member of another Islamic cult? Or both? And all approved by some passage in the koran?

      July 7, 2010 at 10:38 am |
  10. Joe

    Wow, who knew Muslim women could speak. How can you hear them through that black helmet thingy.

    July 6, 2010 at 2:37 pm |
  11. Umme Omar

    Additionally, Islam put restrictions on the unrestricted polygamy of the Arabs of the time, and put many laws in place to protect the well-being of women.
    If women in the 'Muslim' World today don't have their rights, it is not because Islam did not give them to them. The problem is that in many places alien traditions have come to overshadow the teachings of Islam. But ut is a big proof that Muslims did not invade new lands by force, rather it conquered the hearts by teaching and practicing good moral values.

    July 6, 2010 at 2:30 pm |
    • Frogstomp

      Absolute lies

      July 6, 2010 at 2:45 pm |
  12. Umme Omar

    Even though many aspects of Islam are misunderstood by non-Muslims, the ignorance, misinformation and incorrect assumptions that are made in regards to Islam's treatment of women are probably the most severe.

    Numerous verses of the Qur'aan make it clear that men and women are equal in the sight of God. According to the teachings of Islaam, the only thing that distinguishes people in the sight of God is their level of God-consciousness. Due to this, many people are surprised to find out that Islamic Law guaranteed rights to women over 1400 years ago and that women in other cultures only obtained their rights recently. For example, Islaam clearly teaches that a woman is the spiritual equal of a male. Also, according to Islamic Law, women have the right to own property, operate a business and receive equal pay for equal work. Women are allowed total control of their wealth, they cannot be married against their will and they are allowed to keep their own family name when married.

    Additionally, they have the right to inherit property and to have their marriage dissolved in the case of neglect or mistreatment. Also, Islam does not consider a woman an "evil temptress", and thus does not blame women for the "original sin". Women in Islam participate in all forms of worship that men participate in. Actually, the rights that Islam gave to women over 1400 years ago were almost unheard of in the West until the 1900's.

    Islam gives great respect to women and their role in society; it gives them the right to own property, marry who they want and many other rights. Also, it should be mentioned that the Prophet Muhammad's mission stopped many of the horrible practices in regards to women that were present in the society of his time. For example, the Quraan put an end to the pagan Arab practice of killing their baby daughters when they were born.

    July 6, 2010 at 2:24 pm |
    • Frogstomp

      All easily refuted PC myths

      July 6, 2010 at 2:37 pm |
  13. Sheima

    The Quran does not allow abuse and of course not killing or honor killing. All Islamic scholars agree with this, unfortunately many Muslims follow their cultural upbringing and not the religious teachings. The Prophet Muhammad pbuh forbade the killing of women, children and noncombatants and the wars fought were in self defence due to the pagans' fear of the prophet's popular message of worshipping 1 God instead of multiple idols. The prophet pbuh married mostly widows and divorcees for whom it was taboo at that time for men to marry. Please read the Holy Quran instead of looking at what some misguided Muslims do.

    July 6, 2010 at 9:24 am |
    • Frogstomp

      I'm sorry but that is completely and utterly false. Islam as the fundamentalists practice it is the true Islam. The more relaxed, unobservant, and non-literal muslims deny that the unpleasant elements of Islam are "true Islam" and brand true statements about Islam as "hate speech". I can refute every single claim in your post.

      July 6, 2010 at 2:33 pm |
  14. Sheima

    Unfortunately there are Muslims who break the laws of their religion. The Quran does not give husbands the right to abuse or kill females. The prophet Muhammad (pbuh) never beat his wives. There is NO report of this. Also he said "The best among you men is he who is best to his wife". And he said "How can you beat your wife in the day and then sleep with them at night". The Quranic verse that many people misinterpret is actually trying to prevent beating by telling men to first talk to their wives and if that doesn't work then don't share beds. So it is guiding us to talk about things before resorting to hitting.

    July 5, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
    • Reality

      Sheima, as per your koranic analysis, if talking fails then it is OK to abuse/kill your wife or daughter. In the non-Islamic world that is a felony punishable by life in prison, execution and/or substantial time in prison. You might want to review what some mythical angel "revealed" to your womanizing, warmongerng founder.

      July 5, 2010 at 10:17 pm |
    • No Pride

      Sheima, you are a comfortable and happy muslim wife as many many muslim wive around the world... but others -who lack of experience and knowledge about islam- not understand, we must forgive them..

      July 6, 2010 at 12:47 am |
    • Reality

      What is in the koran that we non-Islamics do not understand? Do you really believe some mythical angel told the warmongering, womanizing Mohammed that koranic "honor" killing was OK? Clean up the koran and then get back to us. Untll then, any follower of the koran cannot be trusted!!!!!

      July 6, 2010 at 7:54 am |
    • Frogstomp

      A quote from Muhammed from the Hadith: "A man will not be asked as to why he beat his wife." In other Hadith Muhammed gave permission for men to beat women who have "become emboldened against their husbands". Also, your claim that Muhammed never beat his wives is untrue if you believe the Hadith where Aisha says about Muhammed, "He struck me on the chest which caused me pain and then said: Did you think that Allah and His Apostle would deal unjustly with you?" In other words, he hit her because she deserved it.

      July 6, 2010 at 2:11 pm |
  15. The real reality

    You obviously have no knowledge of the Quran if you say it gives men the right to abuse/kill females. I actually laugh now at the pure ignorance of such statements. If you actually took the time to open and study it, you would find no such thing. Plain and simple. But I bet you wouldn't care to be broad minded enough to do that.

    July 5, 2010 at 3:17 pm |
    • Reality

      So RR Islamic honor killing is not occurring and the following never happened?

      Between October 2004 and May 2005, eleven Muslim girls were killed by their families in just two regions (there are 20 regions in Holland). After that, people stopped telling me I was exaggerating." – Ayaan Hirsi Ali

      July 5, 2010 at 10:14 pm |
    • Frogstomp

      Really? How about these passages from the Quran? "Men have authority over women because God has made the one superior to the other" (Quran 4:34) "Your women are a field for you to cultivate so go to your field as you will" (2:223) "Get two witnesses, out of your own men, and if there are not two men, then a man and two women, such as ye choose, for witnesses, so that if one of them errs, the other can remind her" (2:282) "marry women of your choice, two or three or four; but if ye fear that ye shall not be able to deal justly with them, then only one, or a captive that your right hand posesses" (4:3) "Allah thus directs you as regards your children's inheritance: to the male, a portion equal to that of two females" (4:11) "Good women are obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them" (4:34)

      July 6, 2010 at 1:56 pm |
    • Reality

      More information about how male Muslims treat women:

      Islam’s widespread practice of female genital mutalation which was approved by Mohammed himself in a hadith.

      July 7, 2010 at 10:34 am |
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.