"The problem facing our people... is bigger than all other personal or organizational differences. Therefore as leaders we must stop worrying about the threat that we seem to think we pose to each other's personal prestige, and concentrate our united efforts toward solving the unending hurt that is being done daily to our people here in America."
- Malcolm X
“Tell me what material benefit is a "leader" if he does not, to some extent, devote his time, talent and wealth to the alleviation of the poverty and misery, and elevation of his people?"
- Ida B Wells
We recognize that Imams play a pivotal role in caring for the spiritual and emotional health of American Muslims and their families. BMPC2017 will explore the role of leaders in facilitating community healing. To facilitate this dialogue, we have convened the Imam Roundtable, a historic meeting of 30+ Black Imams (religious leaders) from around the country. These leaders will engage in dialogue about compassionate leadership and community well being.
Imams, Muslim chaplains, youth directors, and other community leaders are often seen as primary caregivers within the Muslim community. However, due to the lack of training in pastoral care or counseling, many Imams (religious leaders) and Muslim chaplains often find themselves overwhelmed by those seeking counseling for various problems such as, intimate partner violence, substance use, stress, anxiety, and depression. Dr. Osman Ali, a Muslim psychiatrist co-authored a study in 2005 entitled “THE IMAM'S ROLE IN MEETING THE COUNSELING NEEDS OF MUSLIM COMMUNITIES IN THE US. This study found that that "Imams are asked to address counseling issues in their communities that reach beyond religious and spiritual concerns and include family problems, social needs, and psychiatric symptoms…Imams are less likely than other clergy to have formal comprehensive counseling training that might help them to effectively address their communities’ multidimensional needs".
The Imam Roundtable will offer these leaders an opportunity to reflect openly on their experiences as leaders and respond to questions such as:
What community issues keep you awake at night?
What are some of the most difficult or challenging aspects of your role as Imam?
How do you strive to balance family commitments and community obligations/demands?
What types of support do you need in order to be more effective?
What strategies do you use to care for your own personal and emotional well being?
Our primary goal for the Imam Roundtable is meaningful and substantially interactive conversation between the participants and the listening audience--a safe, productive space where we can listen and learn from the perspectives of everyone present, and in turn, grow stronger together. To facilitate this, the session will be moderated by a discussant(s)--who will direct the flow of the conversation throughout to ensure that we incorporate as many voices possible from amongst those who are in attendance.
To this end, we have also provided a short pre-conference reading assignment consisting of the first two chapters of the book, LEADING WITH COMPASSION: ANCHORING LEADERSHIP PRACTICES IN PROPHETIC TRADITION BY LOUAY SAFI. The material in the chapters will provide a basis and overall framework for the discussion we will engage in at the conference. We encourage everyone attending the conference to read these chapters and come with questions and reflections for the Roundtable.
For a COMPLETE LIST of Roundtable Participants, click HERE: