The Islamic Women’s Council of New Zealand (IWCNZ) held its annual conference in March with the theme “Fragrance of Faith” attended by more than 200 delegates from all parts of the country as well as guests from overseas.
Several speakers addressed the Conference held in Wellington in March 16 and 17, 2018, attended by government officials, politicians and community leaders.
At the Open Session held at the start of the Conference with invited guests including a local City Councillor, President of International Muslim Association of New Zealand, the Head of Secret Intelligence Service and senior public servants.
There were kind words of welcome by IWCNZ National Co-ordinator Dr Maysoon Salamah, and Hazim Arafeh, President of New Zealand’s peak Islamic body, FIANZ.
Selflessness and Care
Aliya Danzeisen spoke about selflessness, using the example of a tree which gives away its leaves, branches and trunk over the course of its life.
She used this example to talk about giving as much as we are able, while those taking should be mindful of not depleting the resources of the giver.
Farah Shah gave a lively talk entitled ‘Modesty does not mean ugly, followed by Dr Salamah reminding ‘delegates of the efforts of ‘Youth in the Prophetic Light.’
We were lucky to have visitors from Malaysia attend the Conference.
The women shared their knowledge of Asmaa-ul Husna (the names of Allah).
In the early morning, participants performed martial arts like Bojutsu and Taekwondo.
Islam and Culture
The second day began with a Workshop on the differences between Islam and culture, and how young people must negotiate the spaces between the two.
This was followed by a panel discussion on ‘Fragrant Dreams and Visions.’
I talked about dealing with despair and hopelessness, using references from the Holy Quran and Sunnah and giving practical solutions to those in difficult situations.
Noeleen van de Lisdonk talked about the experiences of Maori Muslims, and the struggles they face within the Muslim community to be recognised and have their needs addressed.
Another sister told of an education project developed by her extended family in Northern Pakistan, based on her grandfather’s vision.
The final speaker spoke on professionalism, and the need for Muslim women to aspire to excellence in both religious and worldly affairs.
Adventure and Togetherness
The afternoon was taken up by various excursions such as high tea, kayaking, rock-climbing and a walk in the city. These were followed by a health session with Dr Hanifa Koya, a medical specialist, and workshops by young Muslim women.
The highlight of the Sunday was the IWCNZ AGM, which included a review of the year’s activities and finances, and appointment of a new Administrative Council.
This was an opportunity to recognise the contributions of Danzeisen, who was stepping down.
We were also addressed by Dr Eva Nisa on Muslim women in the digital age, looking at recent trends and areas of concern.
Lawyer Deborah Manning spoke about security issues related to the Secret Intelligence Service and NZ Customs.
IWCNZ was formed in 1990 to bring Muslim women together, representing their concerns at a national level, and supporting them to organise locally.
Annual conferences have been organised since 1990, rotating between five cities in New Zealand.
Anjum Rahman is a Chartered Accountant by profession. She speaks and writes on issues relating to Islam and champions the cause of work. She lives in Hamilton. The above article, which appeared in Australasian Muslim Times issue dated April 20, 2018 and has been edited and reproduced here with the permission of the Editor of the publication. Email: email@example.com; Website: www.amust.com.au
Anjum Rahman (left) with others at the Conference
(Picture Courtesy: Australasian Muslim Times)