Despite Weather, ISWA Fair Draws Crowds

Community News
Ali Serhan was selling his organic honey on the steamy, hot June day at the Islamic Society of Washington Area (ISWA) Annual Fair in Silver Springs, MD. The medicinal honey comes from around the world including Yemen.


He sold 35 bottles at his stall,  as the event wasn’t ‘very crowded.’ Close to his booth was a stall selling bubblegum pink stick horses and moroccan jilbabs,The early morning thunder and rain had deterred many from stepping out, but those who came were in for a day of food and fun in the grassy area behind the ISWA masjid.

Serhan’s organic honey through the Islamic Bookstore website and his family frequently sell at masajid after jumuah. “Do your blood work before you start using our honey and then do it again after,” said Serhan, as he bags two bottles in a brown paper bag, ”I guarantee you it that it will heal if you use it the way I tell you.”

“We had a very good attendance, we got a little scared because of the rain that kept some of the vendors away, but those who prevailed made well today; they were very happy,” said Sheikh Housein, President of ISWA. He thanked the volunteers and supporters, who helped make the event a success, especially the kids in the community.

Helping Hands, a non profit was present as was the Red Cross collecting registrations for a blood drive. “It is the first time we had the Red Cross here,” said Imam Faizul Khan.

The fair is multicultural and multiethnic event with 43 countries represented at the fair according to the organizers. People came from Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey for the caribbean delights and in support of ISWA.

The funds raised from the fair will be used for renovating the parking lot so ample parking is available for Ramadan, said Housian. ISWA has been holding this event for well over 25 years.

Clothing, medicinal, kids gifts and ladies attire booths did really well in the pre-Ramadan days. The food was completely sold out including 140 lbs of Jamaican- style fried chicken pre-soaked in buttermilk, 100 lbs of Guyanese goat curry and 50 lbs of West African fish, as well as a case of plantains and West Indian dal puri. Two makeshift stoves on bricks held a vat of oil, where Jamaican style chicken was fried by volunteers and served on the spot.

Eight dollars got you a meal according to the sisters who cooked, as they cleaned up the booth at the end of a long and fruitful day.

Some mothers were disappointed as the the kids activities were not available. “It is the summer and I came for the kids, that is the only thing that I was concerned about,”said a sister from Cherry Hill. “We had to cancel the moon bounce and other kids activities because of the weather,” said Imam Faizul Khan.

Nzinga Kokayi, from Washington DC, sat at a table enjoying the company of friends who she hadn’t seen for a long time; she has attended some ISWA fairs in the past.  “I enjoyed the variety of things to purchase and being able to meet up with friends. The goat curry was exquisite and at a great price.”