The annual Islamic Society of North America convention, which was held this past weekend in Illinois, is the largest on the continent—this year approximately 40,000 people attended to take part in panel discussions and seminars. It’s also a bastion of shopping stalls offering every Muslim product imaginable, which leads the UK’s Guardian newspaper to wonder whether it has become “more about shopping than spirituality.”
The huge convention centre was packed with 333 stalls catering for the modern Muslim’s every need, including a digital Qur’an audio player, festive Ramadan lights, a pre-packed funeral kit, halal jerky and a mobile phone application that provides daily prayer times for more than 12,000 cities worldwide.
It’s a straw man argument, apparently, because the article provides no source for the criticism that the convention is too materialistc. Instead, it mostly offers quotes from attendees who share their enthusiasm for what’s on offer and say the convention is a great place to do the kind of shopping you don’t necessarily have access to in your hometown—which sort of makes it like a big, religious Comic-Con, only without the scary D&D nerds in costumes.
A veteran convention visitor, Fawad Siddiqui, 28, says the best stalls were the ones that show how activities, chores and rituals can be “Islamicised”, and recalls how an alarm clock that emitted a call to prayer five times a day was an instant hit when it was unveiled.
Islamic Society of North America