Youth and family the focus of second annual conference

By Lindsay Ducharme

On November 9th and 10th members of Markaz-Ul-Islam, the Fort McMurray Islamic congregation, gathered to learn more about one of the most important aspects of life, family.

Sheikh Maqsood, director or Imam at Markaz-Ul-Islam, said the annual event decided to focus on family and youth due to the unique challenges of raising a family in Wood Buffalo. “Each year what we try to do is focus on the common weakness that we have, not only in the Muslim community, but in general in Fort McMurray.

“The main issue is the youth because parents are working so hard the youth are just being ignored a lot of the time.  iPads and iPhones have become baby sitters, we just tell our kids to go stay busy with that because we are busy working,” he explained.

“The youth are the assets, they are the future of our country and our city.  The parents come from a different culture, so for them to hear from the speakers who were born and brought up in Canada, it helped them a lot to get the perspective of a Canadian youth who was brought up here.  They also heard from a Muslim youth who practices his religion, but is also a good citizen of the country.”

“For the youth we had a talk about ideal youth, which focused on responsibility.  As the future leaders they have to be doing more than just sitting around on the internet and all these different websites, wasting their time.  They need to be more active in the community helping out and volunteering in the community,” he continued.

Maqsood explained that each year the topic on the conference changes.  The theme of last year’s inaugural Islamic conference was living in the Wwest and balancing tradition.  He said it looked at “how to mix religion and culture while living in Canada; how do you live as a Muslim and preserve your religion while at the same time being a good citizen of the country

The close to 1,000 people who attended this year’s two-day conference, praised the sessions as “relevant to their lives”, believing they can put into practice much of the information and techniques learned. Maqsood said session’s topics included how parents should deal with their young kids in Canada and how those seeking to get married should go about selecting a spouse. “There was also a large focus put on technology because nowadays technology is very advanced so every child has iPhones, iPads, tablets in their hands and they are always on them.”

“Some workshops were teaching parents how to balance the technology use; how to limit their internet use without supervision.  There was another workshop, which I really liked which was about the harms of TV, showing why a lot of TV is not good for kids, it harms them and they are just stuck sitting and looking, and it’s not health.  They were all about parenthood, the youth and family matters.  A lot of good things happened,” he continued.

Maqsood, who is also a teacher at the Islamic school, said that while the conference is only in its second year, they are hoping to expand it next year making it a biannual conference.

For more information on Markaz-Ul-Islam and upcoming events and conferences, visit their website at