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Archive for May, 2007

05 31 07

South Brunswick Sentinel: A day to play and pray in So. Bruns.

Hundreds of competitors gather for Islamic Games

More than 75 teams composed of about 600 Muslim athletes converged upon South Brunswick on Saturday for the 2007 Islamic Games.

Hosted by Crossroads South Middle School and sponsored primarily by the Islamic Circle of North America, this year's event resurrected the games after a hiatus since the early 1990s.

The games were started in order to fill what organizers saw as a need for more opportunities for young Muslim athletes to compete. The event's founder, Saludeen Nausrudeen, said that many Islamic parochial schools don't have enough athletic programs, especially for girls, and noted that certain religious requirements can make sports difficult for more devout athletes. To address this, the Islamic Games were born.

The event accommodated the Muslim faith by having breaks for prayer, separate areas for male and female competitions, and by having Halal foods available. Participants were also expected to follow, as noted on the schedule, "proper Islamic manners and etiquettes" at all times, which mostly meant observing good sportsmanship and clean language. Islamic dress codes were also expected, with the itinerary saying "if you can pray in it, you can play in it."
There was a large degree of diversity among the games' participants in
many different areas. Some were as young as 9 while others were well
into middle age. Some men sported large, thick beards while other chins
were hairless. Women and girls present were in various states of
coverage – some wore a modest head scarf, others sported garb that left
only their eyes exposed, and many others were somewhere between. Almost
all females, however, were in long sleeves and pants, keeping to
traditional Islamic dress codes.

Teams came from all over the region and a few from as far away as
England, representing parochial schools, youth groups and other
organizations. Meanwhile, the games saw participants ranging from
hardcore athletes to interested amateurs.

"I usually run track meets for school, and this was the only Islamic
one I went to," said Muhammad Ahsan, who, after preparing for two
weeks, came to the Islamic Games to finish first in the 4×200-meter
relay event. Out of breath at the end of his race, he said he felt
"very great."

Woodbridge's Saeed Aziz, meanwhile, was playing volleyball, a game he
noted that he hadn't played for the past eight or nine years, and even
then had done so only casually.

Girls events were held mostly in the gymnasium or, if outdoors, in
fields separate from where boys were playing, as per Islamic
traditions. As Abir Catovic, of Montgomery, watched young girls playing
volleyball, she noted that the event was a good opportunity for them to
get an early start on sports.

"I think it's a good start. It's a nice thing to get these young Muslim
girls to play sports and meet people from other communities, which is
pretty nice, and overall I think it's nice," said Catovic.

Competitors said that the Islamic environment for the games made for an
overall positive playing experience. As coach Wael Hamza, of
Westchester, N.Y., took a short break from a soccer match, he noted
that players weren't shouting, fighting or cursing at each other, which
helped his team concentrate more on the game. He also expressed that
participating in the games brought other benefits.

"We got to meet so many people from outside our area. We drove all the
way from New York, we drove one-and-a-half hours, and as you can see,
we're having fun and winning the games, and I think it's beautiful,"
said Hamza, who said he has been involved in soccer for his whole life.


05 27 07

Islamic Games held at school


SOUTH BRUNSWICK — About 600 Muslim athletes descended on Crossroads South Middle School on Saturday for the first-ever Islamic Games.

Kids ages 8 to 17 kicked soccer balls, shot basketballs, spiked volleyballs, rounded wickets and ran sprints in the first annual event sponsored by the Islamic Circle of North America.Hassan Syed, 13, of North Brunswick, was scrambling up to the last minute to put together a soccer team fit to compete in the games.

"The team that we were versing, they were much more experienced. They were registered a long time before us," Hassan said after the disappointing 4-1 loss.

But the day wasn't a complete loss — Hassan and his teammates all said the game was very competitive, and made for a good challenge.

"I like how they competed with us and how tough they were," said Ahad Shahid, 11, of Edison, who plays in leagues in Edison.
"The game wasn't that bad," said Alamzeb Khan, 11, of Booten, who wants
to play basketball in next year's games. "But I cost the team two goals
because two of them bounced off my foot and went in the goal."

But as his teammates sat around him eating post-game snacks, no one seemed to be too concerned about it.

"I've known them a long time," he said.

Ahmed Soliman, 17, of Woodbridge, was nearby waiting for his basketball
game to begin. With basketball drawing the most participants, many
teams waited a long time for their games to tip off.

Soliman, who was a wrestler at JFK High School in Woodbridge before
transferring to Piscataway's An-Noor Academy, said he decided to
compete on a whim.

"I was playing basketball and my friends told me about it," he said. "I had nothing better to do so I came along."

Others had been looking forward to the weekend for a while. Taahir
Latif, 16, of South Orange, jumped at the opportunity to play cricket.

"We always play cricket at our mosque," said Latif, who goes to the
National Islamic Association in Newark. "So when we saw a chance to
play in a cricket tournament, we decided to go for it."

05 25 07

Let the Islamic Games begin

Muslims from throughout the Northeast to gather in So. Brunswick Saturday

SOUTH BRUNSWICK – More than 600 Muslim student-athletes from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania will play and pray at Saturday's 2007 Islamic Games.

Held at Crossroads South Middle School, the event will feature competitions in basketball, soccer, volleyball, cricket and various track and field events, with about 30 different Muslim parochial schools and organizations taking part from around the region. The large number of participating athletes might be explained by what the event's organizers say is a general lack of athletic programs for Muslim schools around the area. In fact, this observation became the basis for the Islamic Game's founding by Salaudeen Nausrudeen when he was still in high school.

"Muslim schools, numbering almost 40 in New Jersey, [often] do not have sports or athletic programs, which is why we are doing it in May and not deep into the summer because a lot of Muslim schools can participate and be part of the action," said Nausrudeen.
Muslim students who want to take part in sports will sometimes join up
with local youth leagues, but for the more devout among them, this can
sometimes be a problematic proposition. The requirement that believers
pray five times a day, the need for separate Halal foods, as well as
certain dress and behavioral codes can isolate a Muslim athlete from
his or her peers both physically and socially. Nausrudeen, who
professed a lifelong interest in sports, felt this was regrettable
given his feeling of the positive impact sports can have on young

"We need the Islamic Games because [for] Muslims, especially of the
female gender, there's particular circumstances or conditions that they
have to abide by, and if a Muslim woman was to go to a basketball team
or soccer team as per normal, then there is definitely going to be
something that does not fit in with her religion," said Nausrudeen.

Providing an appropriate forum for athletic competition was what
Nausrudeen set out to do when he founded the Islamic Games while he was
still in high school in the late '80s. While the event went into
hibernation due to fading interest, he noted the revival of the games
came from an outpouring of demand from Muslim students.

"There's been a groundswelling from Muslim youth and parents [asking],
'What are we doing? Are we going to be spectators all our lives?' We
should be actively involved on the court also or on the track. …
There's nothing Islamic about basketball or volleyball or soccer, but
the way you play is what makes it more Islamic," said Nausrudeen.

Specifically, the event will feature breaks for prayer, Halal food and
general encouragement of good sportsmanship. Most of the funding for
the games comes from the Islamic Circle of North America, one of the
largest Muslim organizations in the country. It has also caught the
attention of Imam Shraj Wahg, a prominent spiritual leader in the
greater metropolitan area, who participated in the first Islamic games
as a basketball player. Organizers also expect a lot of spectators for
the games and also noted that there has been community interest from
people of other faiths as well – Nausrudeen said that many of the teams
have non-Muslim players as well.

The theme for this year's games is "Strong Inside, Strong Outside,"
because the organizers want to encourage participants to improve
themselves both athletically and spiritually.

"The inside needs to be strong, which is why there is faith, prayers
and fasting," Nausrudeen said. "But while you build on the inside, the
outside also needs to be built, so the Islamic Games need to provide a
channel, a forum, for the outside to show."

Nausrudeen praised the South Brunswick School District for its support
in the event, saying everything was done very professionally. The event
is scheduled for Saturday 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. It will have medals and
trophies for winners and will also feature fun and games for children.
More information can be found on the event's Web site,

05 23 07

ICNA-NY Cosponsors 22nd Annual Muslim Day Parade

On September 9, 2007 the Muslim Foundation of America will be holding a parade to showcase the beauty and diversity of American Muslims and to encourage unity amongst them. To coincide with the parade the MFA has also announced an essay contest. Various themes have been set according to age groups for Muslim Children. For Ages 9 to 13 the essay topic is "Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is the best Role Model". For ages 14 to 18 the essay topic is "Man is the Best Creation of Allah (S)". For ages 19 to 23 the topic is "The purpose of my life". For more information please visit or email:

05 21 07

Speaker: Islam should not be judged by the actions of Muslims

By Annie Martin, The Daily Northwestern

American culture's recent focus on terrorism and the treatment of women in several Muslim-dominated countries has caused many Americans to misperceive Islam as oppressive and violent, said Sabeel Ahmed, a representative from a Muslim organization in Chicago.
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05 10 07

Mid Atlantic Muslim-Catholic Dialogue Approves Document On Marriage

WASHINGTON (May 11) — The Mid Atlantic Dialogue of Muslims and Catholics met at Immaculate Conception Center, Douglaston, NY, April 17-19, 2007, to conclude its first round of work. Convened in 1996 by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), the working group has looked at Catholic and Muslim perspectives on marriage and how the respective traditions treat the issue of interfaith marriage, which has become increasingly common as a result of demographic shifts.
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05 3 07

A personal account: Malika Rushdan on the Bronx Mural

by Mailka Rushdan, May 3, 2007
I first discovered Aerosol Arabic while surfing the internet, browsing art related sites. An aspiring artist myself, I joined an Islamic Artist listserve, this is where I came to know of Mohammed Ali’s work. When I first saw Br. Mohammed’s work I was truly inspired. I remember the graffiti breakdance era in the USA and was in awe of how Br. Mohammed infused graffiti art with the art of Arabic Calligraphy and then took it to the streets – simply brilliant concept in Dawah!
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