IMI’s First North American Young Leaders’ Conference


IMI’s First North American Young Leaders’ Conference was a resounding success with packed sessions and tremendously positive feedback on the substance of the conference by all participants. The report below highlights each session and the contributions of our young leaders throughout the conference, starting with the content of this piece that was also written by/based on content from young leaders in attendance.

#IMIYLC Opening
By Zain Rehmani

The Opening Session, emceed by Shabbir Kirmani, started with tilawat by Ismael Khaliq. It's always refreshing and captivating to see young children accomplish incredible feats such as memorizing over half the Quran. Subhanillah.

The first speaker to welcome young leaders and participants was Dr. Nusrat Naqvi, the Conference Chair. She reviewed the goals of this conference, both today and in the future. She was passionate when speaking, and it helped grab the audience.

Dr. Irfan Zaidi then welcomed everyone as the President of the Host Chapter, IMI Florida. He began with Surah Fatiha for the victims of the Peshawar massacre. He focused on the present and primarily the future of IMI and the work that needed to be done.

The Keynote Address was presented by Dr. Naweed Syed. He was a strong speaker who connected with the younger generation—perhaps more so as he said “I have no ‘Power’… I have no ‘Point’.” His humor and wisdom as well as historical and scientific references, made for a very strong address. He focused on “You”. Empowering young leaders by ensuring they know that they can change the world, they are capable and they are the ground-breakers. His discussion sparked genuine engagement with my own interests in technology, medicine, research, entrepreneurship, leadership, ingenuity, and motivation. His final take-home message was: Don't stay in your comfort zone.

Dr. Quyyumi, IMI’s Global President, then provided a brief overview of IMI from its inception to its contemporary state. He also addressed the question of what we can do to impact the organization.

Mohamed Shariff addressed the youth next on the importance of giving: he pointed out the sadistic reality that higher-income individuals tend to give LESS, whereas middle-class and lower-class individuals give MORE. He emphasized that the norms must be amended and people must discover value in GIVING BACK. One must be willing to help others rather than consistently help themselves. Give rather than get.

Sakina Rizvi, IMI HQ’s Chief Program Officer spoke next. She focused on the priority of the future: education. This is critical not only nationally, but also internationally. She discussed IMI’s global effort that focuses on education. She explained the primary purpose of today's fundraising dinner (fundraising for education that ultimately gives opportunities for successful careers), and asked respectfully for donations (many people move to their bags to provide a donation). She expresses the importance of helping through donations (giving everyone an equal opportunity to succeed) and provided valuable information on projects like NEST I as to how everyone can be involved—highlighting that now everyone in attendance is a part of IMI as a result of the registration dues!

Dr. Naushad Noorani, IMI Canada President and IMI’s Board of Regents’ Member, spoke briefly about NEST I to further highlight this project. He emphasized that the NEST I project allows young doctors to have a safe haven to call home and focus on pursuing their goals to learn more and attain their objectives to become a successful professional.

Maulana Sayid Kashmiri closed out the evening with a short dua/prayer. He gave very inspirational advice on living in today's western culture in America while maintaining Islamic values and left all with the message: "Be the BEST. Don't settle." He inspired the youth to not only learn but also to teach and brought together everyone in the audience.

During the course of the evening, several people were recognized briefly as well that provided an understanding of the effort and dedication that these individuals went through in their endeavors to change society. Individuals recognized were Dr. Nusrat Naqvi, Sakina Naqvi, and Farhan Zaidi.

A Special Tribute to Dr. Shakir Mukhi was also held in recognition of Dr. Mukhi’s selfless contributions towards improving access to education for our community internationally. Dr. Imtiyaz Sheikh and Dr. Nusrat Naqvi presented a tribute plaque by IMI to Dr. Shakir Mukhi’s daughter, Dr. Ruhayna Mukhi.

Honoring Dr. Shakir Mukhi

Dr. Shakir Mukhi was born in India and raised in Tanzania. He graduated as a medical doctor from India in 1978 and emigrated to the United States in 1980 after serving local hospitals in Tanzania from 1978-1980. Dr. Mukhi was a very successful physician in New York and Rhode Island. He treated thousands of patients voluntarily. He would risk his own comfort to help anyone regardless of their faith. He ran successful businesses in different parts of the country that provided employment to hundreds, all while ensuring that he never neglected his family.

Dr. Mukhi was a dedicated worker and believed deeply in education and community service. Whether in the slums of Poona or the villages of Uttrapradesh, Dr. Mukhi was there with his resources to help establish schools and support deserving students. He also helped students secure futures by funding their education from grade one to MBBS. While he never acknowledged that he was instrumental in their career, the students continue to tell stories of his generosity.

Dr. Mukhi was also elected the Vice President of Husseini Madressa in 1997, as well as the acting President of a New York Center in 1998. He was instrumental in bringing communities together through his philanthropic work. He was a God-conscious human being, a physician, a successful businessman, a loving husband, a compassionate father, a community worker, and a devout Muslim whose spirituality was evident in his demeanor. Dr. Shakir Mukhi passed away in 2014 and is survived by his wife, Batool, and three children, Ali, Abbas and Ruhayna.

December 25, 2014

Morning Meditation and Stress Relief

Dr. Sakina Raj and Ms. Nurrunnissa Raj conducted the morning session discussing and demonstrating techniques for meditation and stress relief. Participants not only understood the reasoning behind each of the moves but also the benefits of each movement individually. A second session was requested for women only (to demonstrate some of the ground movements that was subsequently coordinated for the afternoon as well.

Giving You the Tools to Make a Difference

7 Habits of Highly Effective Communicators

Marzia Hasan, introduced by Zain Abbas, presented 7 Habits of Highly Effective Communicators. She focused on the need for human connection—both verbal and non-verbal. She highlighted 4 main items that effect communication: 1. Preconceptions; 2. Human skills; 3. Passionate listening; and 4. Active and passive communication.

Mrs. Hasan also emphasized seven effective ways to improve communication: 1. Cultivating self awareness; 2. Maintinaing a beginner’s mind; 3. Listening to understand; 4. Checking for understanding; 5. Speaking for yourself; 6. Appreciating; and 7. Passionate listening.

Time Management

Dr. Jacqueline Fewkes, introduced by Faisal Quyyumi, first discussed main points about time management and the main topics for the lecture. She also distributed a time management "quiz" at the beginning of the session to get the audience's attention very effectively.

The first topic introduced is Procrastination, with discussing the following issues: 1. Understanding the problems with procrastination; and 2. Developing methods to reduce procrastination. The discussion then led in to Scheduling, and its connection to procrastination. Dr. Fewkes emphasized that "scheduling is related to prioritization", and discussed how to create a to do list and how to share your schedule and priorities with others to get input as to how well prioritized your "list" is.

The workshop moved to focus on Goal Setting—its importance and relationship to the previous topics discussed. Participants engaged in a "goal" activity, in which they wrote their goals and then ranked them based on priorities. Participants talked about intentionality of setting academic and social goals, followed by a movie clip from "Dead Poets Society". Dr. Fewkes then spoke on the extensive amount of success youth can achieve with Time Management and how what we do leaves an impact on the generations coming after us, relating the metaphor from the poem ‘The Bridge Builder’ of a bridge and how "one man can make it, but it is used by thousands for many years". She also touched on the Gibbs Reflective Cycle, which is useful for reflecting on developing your skill of time management. Dr. Fewkes concluded her workshop with a third exercise, "The Board of Directors", through which participants selected people who influence our decisions in terms of goals and created a hierarchy for support and feedback from them.

Overall Dr. Fewkes was very friendly, effective and kept the audience attentive. She used various methods of delivering her information, which made the workshop very dynamic and kept the audience intrigued forcing them to ask very helpful questions.

Connecting You to Mentors in Health

This session, moderated by Abdullah Jawad, began with introduction of each mentor in health related fields. The mentors not only shared their educational paths but also their personal stories and experiences, including the challenges and rewards. Panelists also engaged fully with the audience with an open Q&A segment.

Dr. Farhan Zaidi, emphasized that the process of medical education was hard but he moved forward keeping his ultimate goal of restoring function in mind and that mentors played a significant role for his guidance along his career path.

Dr. Abbas Ali said his goal was to save lives and during his experiences through medical school in Hyderabad (India) and the University of Michigan, understands that one needs to differentiate him/herself from others as the greatest challenge is that there are more applicants than seats. One must distinguish him/herself and passion is required.

Dr. Mubarak Mirjat studied to be a physical therapist through very challenging environments—often times no lights etc. But his love for social work and improving lives meant he persevered and achieved his goals.

Dr. Asghar Naqvi shared a compelling story of his 19 years of schooling and change towards rediscovering faith. His emphasis was on both the value of education and spiritual change. He learned to rely on God, changed study habits and his group of friends to improve his own life. He developed himself through his journey and emphasized that confidence is also important in moving forward.

Dr. Sohel Sachak emphasized passion. His own journey in pharmacy was based on an informed choice of the options present in the field. He also highlighted that young leaders should never stop the journey, keep learning and exploring life and all opportunities. Most importantly, don’t lose faith.

Dr. Sarfaraz Hasni focused on careers in Research and presented options for pathways in health including various ways in which to pursue and strengthen research skills.

Connecting you to Mentors in Your Field

This session, facilitated by Maheen Ali, began with introduction of mentor in a range of fields including Finance, Business, Banking, Education, Law, Advocacy and the Non-Profit Sector. The mentors fielded questions first sharing their educational background and career paths thus far.

Dr. Nusrat Naqvi shared her background discussing the support and inspiration of her own parents as teachers. She emphasized that she pursued knowledge beyond textbooks and teachers to attain deeper level of understanding and further knowledge. Her advice was to always "Be your word; say what you do". She also recommended assigning oneself a role model to learn from.

Adnan Shamsi gave a snapshot of his career trajectory complete with failures, lessons learned and changes. During undergrad he wasn’t sure what to do so he tried his hand at engineering—that required chemistry. To his huge shock he received an F and realized he needed to try something else. He emphasized that one needs to “embrace failures as learning experiences.” He was recruited by Bank of America and worked in corporate finance. He decided to switch trajectories for more work life balance and moved over to personal finances. He cited Eleanor Roosevelt’s quote: "Do something that scares you every day" as advice to live by and cautioned against credit card (mis)use. Another very appealing point "You are the average of the five people you associate with" so chose wisely.

Azra Khalfan, CEO of Plaques by Azra, shared her very traditional, cultural background as a backdrop for her experiences. Her own priorities include family that led her to run her business—one that was started by her parents. She emphasized mentorship and noted the need to cultivate them always mentioning her own recent expansion of networks due to her experiences in Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Small Businesses program and work with the Tory Burch Foundation. With regards to advice, she urged pushing oneself as “the magic happens outside your comfort zone”. A significant anecdote was one of the Pepsi-Co CEO sitting next to her on the plane. She dressed normally (i.e. modestly with a scarf) and prayed during the flight. She was a bit unsure of whether he had preconceived notions as they didn’t speak initially. While most people may feel uncomfortable and question how to behave, she emphasized “take your Muslim identity with you wherever you go; don’t forget who you are.” The CEO was impressed by her firm principles and started talking to her and they have been in touch ever since. Her advice on success was that it is not defined by money. “It is daring to do the impossible.”

Sakina Rizvi shared her career trajectory starting with undergraduate majors in Middle Eastern Studies and Religion. She worked in educational development with AMIDEAST to foster understanding between people of the Middle East/North Africa and North Americans as well as the US Director for the American Institute of Pakistan Studies. She got her JD from the Washington College of Law, American University, passed the NY and NJ Bar exams and worked in various arenas like civil rights with the ACLU, peace-building and constitution drafting for countries. She heavily emphasized, “pursue your passion”: she added that her majors during undergrad were non-traditional, and most people were unsure of what to make of it; yet, post 9-11, the same people from the community applauded her choices after it recognizing the need for work in this area. She also knew she wanted to pursue advocacy and not litigation, but took a position with Bloomberg after law school while also volunteering with IMI. At Bloomberg, she “felt like she was cheating herself for the sake of money” so she left it and went through interviews with the IMI Board to begin working as a consultant focusing on international projects, advocacy and IMI’s UN axis. As other panelists, she echoed that success was not all about money, people’s perception of your choices, but feeling fulfilled.

Finally, she shared personal stories of trust, support and communication. Use examples that they will be able to relate to of where you want the work to take you: ie going into international development may be too intangible: what does it mean; how do you frame it in a religious/community context so it resonates with your parents’ viewpoints. She also emphasized that it’s not always easy, but her advice is to make sure you work at good communication and trust for parents/family support as for her they are the ones that support her the most.

Interaction from the audience also raised very good questions, with candid answers from panelists. It was a highly inspiring session with very good discussion and input from all sides.

Residency Guidance & Alternative Pathways for Physicians

By: Shahan Sibtain

The first ever IMI Young Leaders’ Conference in Orlando FL, provided a platform for medical students and young physicians to know more about residencies in the US. The session was headed by a motivational and inspiring line up of speakers which included Dr. Shujayat Ali (Dubois Medical Center, PA), Dr. Hammad Jafri (Physician, University of Florida), Dr. Saba Jafri (Baymeadows Pediatric Care, FL) and Dr. Sarfaraz Hasni (NIH, DC). (The session also evolved naturally to combine the subsequently scheduled research session into this segment.)

After a brief introduction, the panel of speakers shared their expertise with young physicians and medical students. They not only talked about the importance of scores but also the importance of research, externship and electives for IMGs. Dr. Shujayat talked about the importance of a good CV and how it can impact your interview and increase your chances of selection for residency. Dr. Hammad laid emphasis on how to choose what program and what specialty is right for you. Dr. Saba highlighted all the qualities a Program Director or a Selection committee is looking in a candidate for residency.

Dr. Sarfaraz Hasni brought a new domain to the seminar by introducing the Alternate pathways for residency. Apart from this many other aspects ranging from preparing application to interview preparation were covered.

Everybody found the panel’s view very informative, interactive and innovating. Questions were raised based on different scenarios, and what expectations from community based programs compared to university programs. Concerns related to specialty specific residency were also brought up during the session and every question was properly addressed and answered to full satisfaction. In conclusion, the students found the seminar very beneficial and the speakers were equally delighted by the input and participation from the students.

Showcasing our Youngest Mentor: Syed Haider Abidi

Haider Abidi is a final year Engineering Science student at the University of Toronto, Canada, specializing in Engineering Physics. In addition to his academics, Haider is also a part of the ATLAS collaboration (that received recognition by Nobel Prize in Physics in 2013), contributing to the Higgs Boson measurement at the LHC, CERN. He plans to continue to graduate school and obtaining a PhD in particle physics, with the research focused on the Higgs Boson. The LHC and ATLAS will restart in 2015 with upgrades that will allow them to probe into previously unexplored regions of Nature. This research will try to answer some of the questions concerning matter-anti-matter asymmetry and dark matter.

Undergraduate & Graduate Applications

Undergraduate Applications

Dr. Jacqueline Fewkes

Graduate Applications

Sakina Rizvi*

*Our original speaker was called away for a family emergency resulting in the changes to this session for general content on personal statements and recommendations at the graduate level.

Dilemmas in Student & Professional Life

This discussion was introduced by Nurunnisa Raj with Aqae Sayyid Kashmiri, Marzia Hasan and Azra Khalfan fielding questions and facilitating discussion amongst participants. Issues discussed included work-life balance, gender and religious considerations in academic and professional life.

One pressing issue that attendees raised was of representing themselves as Muslims in schools or professional spheres given the current Islamophobia.

Advocacy: Local to International

Sakina Rizvi, IMI HQ’s Chief Program Officer, presented advocacy basics—starting with a discussion of what advocacy entails at the most basic level (persuasion) and tips for successful advocacy strategies and crafting campaigns at local and international scales. The discussion also included the practical applications and thoughts on recent efforts in community based advocacy. IMI’s advocacy efforts over the years were also touched upon including health priorities and advocacy for the rights of healthcare workers in Bahrain and for the protection of our global membership battling anti-Shia violence.

  • I cannot express the profound impact IMI has had on my life: from the incredible opportunity to serve on the Arbaeen Medical Mission to the insightful career guidance and special programs for Young Leaders that I’ve benefitted from!

    Looking back on this life-changing experience, I know that without the months of work for this program at IMI HQ, the Annual Arbaeen Medical Mission would not be possible.  

    So support HQ. There’s a visionary new project for IMI’s physical Global Headquarters and Intentional Community, the first-of-its kind in North America.  The project will care for our aging communities through facilities like Assisted Living AND brings IMI long-term financial security.  It’s a future our community deserves.  

    This Ramadan, as you explore ways to give back, look into the Arbaeen Medical Mission, and please donate to IMI HQ now because it’s on every one of us to make sure this vision is tomorrow’s reality.

    Mohammed Akbar
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