MUNA Youth show off their trophy for winning the high school debate at the 11th Annual Mafiq Foundation Muslim Youth Debate Tournament. Photo courtesy of Mafiq Foundation.
Al Rahmah School in Baltimore became more and more crowded as excited competitors and guests alike gathered at the 11th annual Muslim Youth Debate Tournament on Saturday June 29, 2013.
Twenty teams competed and over 100 people attended the event that empowers young Muslims to become the leaders of the future.
The Mafiq Foundation launched the MYDT in 2002 so that Muslim youth in the area “could have public speaking and critical thinking skills to implement in the real world,” according to Mostafiz Chowdhury, an organizer of the event and president of the Mafiq Foundation. Students ranging from 6th to 12th grade can compete in the event, a forum for Muslim youth to tackle real world issues from multiple viewpoints.
A welcome speech by Mafiq and an Al-Rahmah School representative opened the event, and after a Quranic recitation, the teams were ready to begin their long day of argumentation. A coin toss by the judges determined who would argue on behalf of the proposition and opposition.
Topics ranged from social media and carbon emission taxes to the second amendment and the idea that change is not progress. Spectators watched the debates with excitement. “I really enjoy watching not only my daughter’s debate… but also listening to all the other ones,” remarked Misbah Awan, parent of DUS team member Zohaa Awan. “It’s all very well done.”
Following a break for a lunch of sandwiches provided by Subway, the competition resumed after salaah. The high school teams that made it into the semi final debated the topic “Faith based governments are the solution”, while the middle school teams argued on whether “we should focus on universal brotherhood rather than Muslim brotherhood for the purpose of Dawah”.
After the judges made their decision, four teams advanced to the final debates. Al-Fatih Academy was against Muslim Ummah of North America (MUNA) youth, a Bangladeshi Muslim organization from Baltimore, debating the topic “This house will rock the boat”. The two teams argued whether or not the Muslim Ummah, which Al-Fatih Academy interpreted as the house, was rocking the United States, the boat in their interpretation. The debate had the audience hanging on to the speakers’ every word, perched on the edge of their seats.
Al-Fatih Academy and Roosevelt Middle School debated the topic “morality is relative” in the middle school round, and after both teams provided their riveting arguments, the judges announced their decisions. MUNA youth won the high school debate, while Al-Fatih Academy won the middle school debate.
As the competition came to an end and the awards ceremony wound down, competitors were happy with what they had gotten out of the day. “There was a sense of excitement and intense rivalry as teams debated,” said Tahmiid Hossain, 14, from MUNA youth. “I was happy that my team came through… but I like knowing that there will always be room for improvement.” Contestants learned a lot by competing. “The competition will help me if I need to argue with someone outside of this environment,” stated ICM team member Muqeet Ahmed, 16. The MYDT helped first time contestant Zohaa Awan, 13, of the DUS team “start taking risks and challenges” that she couldn’t before she began competing.
Mafiq hopes to continue the Muslim Youth Debate Tournament annually and see improvements in both the event and those participating. Long time instructor Faiza Alvi was impressed by the success of the tournament, “I can feel the power in your words” she told the competitors during the finals, however she believes that the competition is still in need of more professional judges. Faraz Ahsan, a current judge and previous competitor agreed. “It would help to have at least 2-3 judges in every room to ensure that scores are even… but that can only happen if we get more volunteers!” However, Mafiq remains confident about the tournament, and will take the MYDT national this year at the ISNA Convention in DC.
Champion: Al Fatih Academy - Asiya Ahmad, Dhuha Baig, Ibraheem Farooq
Runner-Up: Rising Muslim Ummah of North America (MUNA) - Taharath Sheikh, Ilsa Mir, Saima Ahmed
Top Debater: Ilsa Mir
Champion: Muslim Ummah of North America (MUNA) - Wasif Sikder, Tahmiid Hossain, Tajbik Sheikh
Runner-Up: All Dulles Area Muslims Society (ADAMS) - Mona Hagmagid, Maryam Ahmad, Omar Farooq
Top Debater: Tajbik Sheikh