Maryland, DC and Virginia students faced off against some of the brightest youth of the nation at MIST (Muslim Interscholastic Tournament) Nationals held this year in Detroit the first weekend of July.
DC previously won MIST Nationals in 2010 and 2011, but lost the first place title to the NY team this year by a mere margin of 2 points, despite NY’s team having almost 50 more competitors than the DC team.
Most competitors purchased a package through DC MIST that bought them a ticket for the University of Maryland coach busses that took them to Detroit, as well as a hotel room. For some competitors, MIST Nationals doubled as a vacation, and they drove to the competition with their friends and family.
MIST began in Texas in 2002, founded by a high school student who wanted to have a way to bring together high schoolers. MIST’s main objective is to promote creativity and leadership. The nationwide competition now takes place in over ten regional locations, and every year, the top five winners from each regional competition represent their respective team at the national competition.
Students face off against other students in topics ranging from math and science to Islamic knowledge and Quranic recitation. “Everyone wants to put forth their best in front of the judges, competitors and most importantly, Allah,” during the competition said DC team member Amina Iro.
Competition was considerably more heightened in this year’s tournament. “More competitors this year were focused on winning and giving it their all [rather than] coming to Nationals for fun,” remarked DC’s regional director Tara Mohammed. “Seeing the level of competition expand brings us closer to attaining our goals… of personal development and leadership through [the] competitions.”
MIST has brought together high school students through its unique competitions. “Despite the fact that everyone is on a different team, chanting for their own, there’s the unspoken common knowledge that we all do MIST as a way of growing as people and as Muslims through whatever competitions we are involved in,” said Amina Iro. In comparison to the regional competition where schools have rivalries, MIST Nationals is a lot more relaxed and friendly. The various DC teams that attend Nationals band together to represent their region as best they can.
Contestants learn how much MIST has helped them once they’re done competing. “One really starts to notice the value of MIST, the lasting bonds its cultivates, and the fact that the time has now come to hone in on the abilities discovered at MIST and exert them towards purposes far greater than simply competing against other talent, to grow up in a sense,” said Naeem Baig, a long time competitor from DC that won first in the overall individual awards.
The awards ceremony is all nerves and excitement for the competitors, it’s the time for them to cheer on their teammates and find out how well their hard work paid off. DC’s efforts paid off in the end, they’d solidified their place as the undisputed region, and have their eyes set on first place for next year.