Annual Islamic Convention Is A Muslim Shopper's Dream

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

“Spirituality and shopping at US Muslim convention” [Guardian]

(Photo: ISNA)


Edit Your Comment

  1. dbeahn says:

    Well, you know this is probably the only major convention where they don’t worry about a terrorist attack. Sad, really.

    Also popular was an alarm clock that called for the person waking up to “Go blow up some infidels today!”

  2. Amelie says:

    No, your comments are what are sad.

  3. Three Word Chant says:

    Not only are the above comments sad, but I find it ironic that the UK Guardian is breathlessly reporting that perhaps this convention is more about shopping than religion. We have something like that too – its called Christmas, it consumes the entire country, and seems to now start the day after Halloween (also ironic that the holiday now skipped is called Thanksgiving).

    Perhaps I don’t see the connection between Christ, a tree, and an XBox, but I digress.

    Holidays will inevitably become commerical, but let’s not report it like “look at those crazy Muslims loving shopping more than their holidays”

  4. Namilia says:

    @dbeahn: ya beat me to it..XD

  5. jwissick says:

    What is sad is that people still actually believe that Islam is a religion of peace. A Pew Research Center poll showed that 13% of Muslims IN AMERICA and 25% of younger Muslims in America think that suicide bombing to defend Islam is acceptable… and five percent of all the Muslims in America surveyed said that they had a favorable view of Al-Qaeda.

    BTW, there have been more than 9410 deadly terrorist attacks carried out by Muslims since 9/11.

    Hardly peaceful by any standard.

  6. jwissick says:

    My reply did not get posted but in a nutshell: What is real sad is that most people still believe that Islam is a religion of peace… It clearly is not.

    If this doubles after my last try… sorry.

  7. thepounder says:

    To me this is just a story about shopping, which makes me wonder why it’s “news” at all… oh, right, it’s shopping done by a large gathering of Muslims, so let’s all be afraid that the hottest selling item is a hot pink Gucci suicide vest.

    About Christmas shopping — it’s the businesses and some silly people who take Christ out of Christmas. It’s not actually called “X-Mas” for a reason. Sure, the gifts are nice, but that’s not what the whole Holiday is about… except for stores that sell all the stuff we buy for Christmas. Oh well…

    BTW, love that word “Islamicised”…

  8. Uhhh…welcome to the world of conventions…

    Also, supply, meet our good friend demand.

  9. Eukaryote says:

    I was actually thinking that this was exactly the kind of place that a psycho right-wing Christian nut job would love to bomb. Eric Rudolph, Tim McVeigh, etc…

  10. Elviswasntmyhero says:

    Leave it to the *foreign media* to paint a picture of Muslims that fails to portray them as wild-eyed bomb throwers.

    “The Muslim American community is commercially motivated – that’s why they’re in the US, for the economic opportunity, and they’re frank about that. Muslims here want to be upwardly mobile. They don’t see it as an evil.”

    “It is this prosperity that has led to greater cohesion and participation in society. A study from the Pew Research Centre showed Muslims in America to be middle class, mainstream and integrated.

    AAAAAHHHHH…MY EYES!!!! Somebody turn on FOX NEWS!

  11. Elviswasntmyhero says:

    Leave it to the *foreign media* to paint a picture of Muslims as anything but wild-eyed bomb throwers.

    “The Muslim American community is commercially motivated – that’s why they’re in the US, for the economic opportunity, and they’re frank about that. Muslims here want to be upwardly mobile. They don’t see it as an evil.”

    “It is this prosperity that has led to greater cohesion and participation in society. A study from the Pew Research Centre showed Muslims in America to be middle class, mainstream and integrated.”

    AAAAAHHHHH…MY EYES!!!! Somebody turn on FOX NEWS!

  12. Namilia says:

    …the new comment system stinks.

  13. jywhitney says:

    I’ve actually been to this conference for several years, out of interest (not Muslim). The bazaar is large, but I think one would only need to look at the program to see that the focus is not spiritual. Many of the lectures are on economics and politics: []

    @Elviswasntmyhero Do you happen to know any Muslims? Those abroad do make some judgements about America based on their media, but as exemplified by your post, we do the same to them.

  14. @Ditch1852: “Perhaps I don’t see the connection between Christ, a tree, and an XBox”

    Maybe you’re playing the wrong XBox games. Lumberjack Jesus II: Rage Against the Green is just killer-diller. ;)

  15. EtherealStrife says:

    @jwissick: Yes because we have nothing to fear from Anti-Muslim terrorist groups like the Tamil Tigers.

    @Elviswasntmyhero: lol

    “One justice is 83-years-old, another has cancer and another has a heart condition. Would it not be possible for God to put it in the minds of these three judges that the time has come to retire?”
    OMG OMG TERRRRORORISTS!! Oh wait, it’s just Pat Robertson. Operation Supreme Court Freedom. ROFLMAO YOU’RE SO FUNNY!

  16. EtherealStrife says:

    @EtherealStrife: ” BY ETHEREALSTRIFE AT 09:11 PM”


  17. Sonnymooks says:

    I learned not to long ago not to call Islam a religion of peace.

    Not because I have anything against or for it. Some of the muslims I know simply hate the term and told me they found it offensive.

    They (and I disagree, but its not my religion) think the term implies pacifism and they find that offensive.

    As a rule, I try not label anyones religion in any way, positive or negative, unless its a label they themselves would use.

  18. Sonnymooks says:


    What makes you think a militant Islamic extremist, wouldn’t find this offensive and want to bomb it? You think the Taliban would have been cool with this? I doubt Al Quada is looking at those muslims with pride and wishing good things for them.

  19. spinachdip says:

    @dbeahn: Yes, because conventions are such a frequent target of jihadist attacks. Why, the other day, I was at a mobile home convention in Hilton Head and this guy comes in with a bomb inside his shirt. We’re all rolling our eyes, like, “Oh no, not this shit again!”

    Oh wait, that never happened. Dumbass.

  20. spinachdip says:

    @Sonnymooks: Didn’t bring President Bush bring the “religion of peace” thing into the popular lexicon (even if he didn’t come up with the term itself)?

    But hey, the strawman has always been the preferred rhetorical device of wingnuts and alarmists.

  21. asherchang says:

    @jwissick: That’s strange. I looked at Pew
    Research’s report and its table on the question “Can suicide bombings
    be justified?”, asked of Muslim Americans, showed the following results.

    Not Justified 80%__85%


    Granted, later on in the report, there is the question, “Are suicide
    bombings ever justified?”, and it showed the statistics you quoted. But
    that’s different because this question asks people to look at the
    situation in the shoes of the perpetrators, and can evoke empathy for
    the people driven to such extremes.

  22. olegna says:

    Polls, shmolls. I can find a poll that says 65 percent of Americans stupid enough to believe that Saddam Hussein orchestrated the 9/11 attack. But when I talk to people around me: none of them believe that.

    There are at least 1.3 billion Muslims in the world and a lot of people talk about them like they all personally know Osama bin Laden.

    Yes, there is a problem. Islam is the youngest of the three desert paternal Abrahamic cults (yeah, I just said that) and may are still literally interpreting the Quran in ways Christians have learned not to literally apply Deuterotomy (ie Jesus said divorce is a sin for which you go to hell) to their day-to-day lives.

    A sliver of Muslims have used the Quran’s equivalent of the Old Testament’s Deuterotomy (ie kill all non-Christians) to engage in murderous acts (which predominantly kill other Muslims, by the way). But these moronic confaltions made by hillbilly Americans don’t help solve the problem.

    And when Americans begin to realize that “collateral damage” IS TERRORISM, then they too can begin to adjust their actions accordingly and we can begin to come to some reconciliation in this whole “clash of civilizations” thing.

    North American Muslims are, by the way, part of the solution not the problem. They have an average of 4.3 years of college education, they’re the wealthiest and most educated minority in North America. (In a way they’re like “the new Jews”.) They can lead the way in non-violent political reforms in the countries from which they came. And we non-Muslim North Americans should be helping them do that.

  23. olegna says:

    PS – Another thing about this poll nonsense. If Pew headed to rural Kansas and started asking Christians if in some hypothetical situation where Christianity was under assault from heathens who want to wipe out the faith would they give or take lives in a struggle to defend Jesus, what the hell do think they’re going to say?

  24. Jesse in Japan says:

    I can’t believe I’m the first person to suggest this, but, damn, they have a convention for everything these days.

  25. dbeahn says:

    @zouxou: No, what’s sad is that Muslims can’t seem to keep other Muslims from blowing up innocent men, women and children for no other reason than not being Muslim. Until that happens, *I* am not going to take the chance that the Muslim person I’m looking at ISN’T one of the radical assholes. A case of “a few bad apples”? Maybe. But it’s WAY too high a price to pay to take the chance.

    As for the Muslims that don’t believe in the extremist crap? If you don’t want to pay the price for what your brothers and sisters in Allah are doing, then stand up and DO something about it. As long as you stand by and do nothing, you’re just as guilty as the people blowing themselves up.

  26. dbeahn says:

    @spinachdip: And apparently you lack the mental capacity to recognize “irony” when it presents itself.

    Oh, wait. You said you were at a mobile home convention. That would explain that. Enjoy your Jerry Springer.

  27. No, what’s sad is that Muslims can’t seem to keep other Muslims from blowing up innocent men, women and children…

    @dbeahn: Last I looked there were plenty of Christian people committing murder and plenty of other Christian people doing nothing to stop it. How many murders have YOU stopped in the last week?

    If you choose to ignore the fact that there ARE in fact Muslims trying to make a difference that is your problem.

  28. …recalls how an alarm clock that emitted a call to prayer five times a day was an instant hit when it was unveiled.

    Hey, I would love an alarm clock that you could set multiple alarms on at one time.

  29. gibsonic says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation:

    I have an emerson that has two alarm settings and it automatically sets the time and date and remembers previous alarm settings even after a power outage. (It get’s the time/date via radio signal from the PBS stations)

  30. King of the Wild Frontier says:

    @dbeahn: And you did what to stop Timothy McVeigh, exactly?

  31. gibsonic says:


    i love it when people who really have never read the Bible start quoting it as if they are an expert.

    Deuterotomy is in the old testament. Guess what part of the Bible Jesus appears in? NEW Testament.

    “Jesus said divorce is a sin for which you go to hell”

    The Bible actually permits divorce due to infidelity and in that situation ONLY as the people have hardened their hearts to God. In other words divorce isn’t a automatic or even preferred solution to infidelity, but is offered as a way out if people are unwilling to love as God commands.

    All sins are created equal in God’s eyes, according to the New Testament teachings of the Bible. You can burn in hell for even one if you haven’t turned your heart towards God/Jesus in repentance, according to the Bible.

  32. RandomHookup says:


    Well, you see, X is the first letter of Christ’s name in Greek (Chi) and Jesus was put in a box in that manger in Bethlehem when he was born, just like in all the nativity sets you see. Therefore, an XBox is a perfect gift for honoring the Son of God on a Pagan solar holiday.

  33. gibsonic says:


    this made me chortle.

  34. spinachdip says:

    @dbeahn: Look, Alanis, let’s try not to use big people words when we don’t fully know what they mean.*

    I don’t want to get too deep into semantics, but one of my bigger pet peeves is over-/misuse of “irony”. Perhaps you meant “hyperbole” or “joke” or maybe irony’s cousin “sarcasm” – use of those devices can often be ironic, but they are not interchangeable. A better example of irony is, say, someone who doesn’t understand irony chiding someone else for not seeing it.

    *Unless you put “irony” in quotes to indicate you’re being ironic about your use of ironic, which would been totally awesome and mind blowing.

  35. spinachdip says:

    @spinachdip: er, would *be*

  36. ShadeWalker says:

    i think all religions are crazy. Any religion that says it’s ok to kill in the name of your god is a big no no. from the crusades to the jihads to the ethnic cleansing.

    where’s the love people?

  37. gibsonic says:


    Mormons have the love…for multiple wives!

  38. gawkimo says:


    I didn’t say Deuterotomy was the New Testament or that Jesus was in the Old Testament.

    Read my post again without getting your pious panties in a wad.

    Secondly, the NEW Testament (like all religious books) is rife with contradictory information, but the Gospels are very clear:

    Since you’re such a Biblical scholar and know my own standing on my knowledge of the verse, I’ll let you read Matthew 5 and Luke 16 which clearly state that divorce leads to adultery, which is a sin.

    And Jesus is directly quoted as saying that “it has been said” that divorce is OK, “but I tell you” it leads to adultery. (Please pay attention to where I have put the quote marks, since you misread my original post I feel I should point that out here.)

    I love when Christians get all freaked out when people talk about inconsistencies and human rights abuses in their “living book”, but some of them are more than happy to take a shit on the Quran.

    PS: I’ve read all three of those desert Bedou paternal religious “living books” and I find most of it to be horse shit.

  39. Three Word Chant says:


    Touche, salesman. Although, Lumberjack Jesus II: Rage Against the Green might be what finally makes me go out and get an XBox 360.

    Either way, I’m Jewish, and I’m thinking a fun Consumerist contest that is perfect for starting an argument would be [Religion name], religion of __________.

    I’m thinking Judiasm, religion of controlling the media and causing conspiratorial plots and money and noses would be a good start, but I’m sure I can be one upped.

    Methinks people take things too seriously sometimes (Rufus 12)

  40. dextrone says:

    *90% chance you will read the entire thing before *

    Hmmm, people never read IMPORTANT THINGS.

    If you have a question ask someone that knows the answer, not someone who has no clue what they’re doing but they’re your “buddy” or you favor their opinion.

    I’m sad at how many people don’t know this:

    The Quran says that there will be hypocrites, who openly announce they are Muslims and even may say they support peace. IN REALITY(NOT reality TV) , however, they’re lying. Additionally it is said that those hypocrites are more harmful than ANYTHING ELSE.

    And I found many people taking surveys as authority, WELL, I don’t know how that happened.

    Many of us are trying to preserve what the Quran’s actual message is, however the GENERAL PUBLIC HAS NO CLUE, therefore media companies take whatever one they see can make more $$$$ in terms of advertising revenue.

    THAT’s not all I have to say, BUT

  41. dextrone says:

    Sorry for some reason it logged me out:

    Please erase the last line and the first line should read:
    “*90% chance you will NOT read the entire thing before considering it’s a piece of junk if you believe that Muslims are bad and it says “kill the infidels”*” May I remind you that the people who said that indefinitely have no clue what they said at that moment due to the fact that it does not say ANYTHING TO THAT EFFECT, or even the exact same thing in the Quran.

    I’d like to know who said that. INFACT, it says something along the lines of respect everyone and help everyone.

  42. loueloui says:

    Let me guess, it was an explosion of savings!

    Really the only thing I think this convention was missing was a few well camouflaged snipers.

    And, before anyone accuses me of being a racist let me say this- I hate anyone who tries to destroy my country, or kill me, regardless of race, color, creed or religion of peace.

    You can bet Daniel Pearl wasn’t a racist, and look what happened to him. I would rather be despised, and alive, than well thought of and dead.