BY KATHY CHANG, Sentinel
SOUTH BRUNSWICK, NJ — Members of the Muslim community took to the sporting fields at the Crossroads Middle Schools for a day of fun and food recently.
Asim Kahn, president of the New Jersey Chapter of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA-NJ), based in Somerset, said the organization’s objective is to engage the youth in the community, and a great way to do that was to host nine competitive sporting activities, from cricket and soccer to table tennis and volleyball.
The sports day, held April 27, was open to both Muslims and non-Muslims.
“This is the second year we are holding this event, and it was an effective outreach [the first time], so we decided to hold it again,” Kahn said.
Approximately 1,100 athletes participated, and more than 1,000 spectators enjoyed the events, as well as a bazaar that included a variety of vendors selling clothing and jewelry.
During the sporting events, a Paterson man, Haji Ibrahim, 60, made a pledge to run a full marathon around the track at the middle school, equating to about 300 laps.
“He started at 6:30 a.m. and finished around 11:30 a.m.,” Kahn said. “He did this for the victims of Boston [where three people were killed and hundreds were injured in two bomb explosions on April 15] and to show that we are against any form of extreme terrorism.”
Among those in attendance April 27 was Ibtihaj Muhammad, a member of the U.S. National Fencing Team.
“This is my first time here,” she said. “My sister joined a volleyball team, and I came to support her.”
Muhammad, 27, of Maplewood, said she travels around and speaks on the subject of empowering women, particularly to show that there are opportunities for Muslim women.
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“Sports are not really a routine activity,” she said. “My mom introduced me to the sport of fencing because it was a sport [in which] I would be fully covered.”
Muhammad took up fencing in 2000 as a freshman at Maplewood High School. As part of the U.S. National Fencing Team, she gets to travel across the nation and to various countries for competitions.
She also serves as the fencing coach at Maplewood High School.
“It has been a great experience,” she said.
Muhammad said she unfortunately did not get to compete in the Olympic Games in London last summer, but her goal is to make it the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
The ICNA was established in 1968 in response to the growing need for a supportive Muslim community in North America. The Muslim Family Day, first hosted at Six Flags in 2000, now attracts nearly 50,000 a year at several parks nationwide.
The grassroots organization focuses on self-development, education, outreach and social services.
For more information about the ICNANJ, visit home.icnanj.org. Contact Kathy Chang at firstname.lastname@example.org
Article Courtesy: Sentinel