Building Ties Through Taraweeh: 1500 Attend DMV Unity Iftar

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On July 25, 2014 over a fifteen hundred Muslims gathered to break fast and pray in the Ritchie Coliseum at the University of Maryland, for the Second Annual Night of Unity—a Multi Masjid Iftar and Taraweeh, coordinated by the Muslim Youth DMV Council. 16 youth groups are a part of this organization.

Families in the region were excited that one of their favorite events of Ramadan was coming back for the second year. The event costs $10,000 to host and is sponsored by the area masajid and with donations from community members.

Media Spokesman Ammar Ibn Yasser from Dar us Salaam (DUS), part of the DMV Council for the past year, said that Islamic Society of Baltimore (ISB) took a lot of responsibility this year. “They brought in a lot of volunteers and sponsorship. DUS hosted the location,” he said.

According to Ibn Yasser, PGMA played a big role and DAT, the Islamic Research and Humanitarian Services (IRHSA), Islamic Society of Washington Area (ISWA), Muslim Community Center (MCC), Islamic Community Center of Laurel (ICCL), Mclean Islamic Center (MIC), Masjid Fatima, Nur Foundation,  Islamic Center Northern Virginia Trust, Muslim Family Center, Maryam Islamic Center, First Hijrah Foundation in Washington DC, ADAMS and Dar Al Hijrah joined in to help support this community building effort.

Arif Kabir, an active member of the MY DMV Council, was very happy to see more masajid join in the efforts towards unity. These youth group leaders have the desire to bring the Muslim community together, reduce turf wars and remove discord between the community.

Some changes from last year included vending spaces opened for organizations and individuals. Fatima Waseem and Zara Tariq had set up a stall of custom made Islamic calligraphy. Brothers from the inititaive were at the event urging people to take the 60 seconds it takes to send a letter to the President, Senator and Congressmen about Gaza through their website. Helping Hands, Creative Muslims, Islamic Leadership Institute of America also set up booths. There was also a bounce house for children set up outside the coliseum.

A high note of the events was that after the first eight rakat, a woman took her shahadah, causing the witnesses to erupt in takbiraat, glorifying Allah for her guidance.

Sh. Adam Butt (DAT) led the Maghrib salah, while Imam Haroon Baqai of DUS performed the isha salah. Qari Mohammad Zahid of ISB treated the audience with a beautiful rendition of Surah Abasa and Humaza in the Warsh style of recitation and the worshipers cried with Imam Safi Khan as he recited Surah Qaaf during the last rakahs, while dedicated volunteers cleaned up the coliseum.

MCC’s Sh. Muhammad Abdullahi’s voice resonated with verses from Surah Furqan, Hafidh Abd Al-Baasit Khan (PGMA) recited Surah Nisaa, and Surah Naba was recited by Sameer Ali of the Islamic Research & Humanitarian Services, Imam Faisal Khan of Islamic Society of Washington Area was represented by Qari Muhammad Ishaq.  Hafidh Hammad Hai represented ICCL as as last year’s favorite young qari, Masihullah Bhaiyat was out of the country. New on the scene was Dr Mohamed Abu Talib of the Muslim Family Center in Columbia, MD.

Qari Mohammad Abid (Nur Foundation) recited choice verses from Surah Ibrahim. Br. Ibrahim Khan (MIC) recited from Surah Hadeed. Qari Fahad Hijazi lead the witr salah with a profoundly moving dua.

Prince George's Muslim Association (PGMA) generously donated their catering services for the event and provided the dinner. Imam Azzarri of PGMA was featured to attend but Allah blessed him with a new baby in his house the very same day, so he could not be a part of the night but he was in people’s duas. The Council was hoping Imam Magid of ADAMS would join them.

There were more sisters involvement this year led by Shaima Gimie of PGMA who brought in sponsorships, as well as managed logistics for the women and child care. This year the council had arranged for 1500-2000 guests. She coordinated the female volunteers. Many young women were seen helping set out the food, watching the children so the parents could pray in peace, and cleaning up.

The Muslim Youth of DC, Maryland,Virginia (DMV) prepared for the event for three months. This year’s event flowed more smoothly as the the venue was at the same as last year. More events and coordination are in the works, says Ibn Yasser.

There was a little confusion amongst the sisters section about the lines leading to the iftar tables, so some attendees suggested that the council could work on planning that aspect of logistics differently next year.

The Muslim Youth Council of DMV recognized  the Imams after each set of rak'ahs.

The youth honored the imams and teachers in the DMV area as ‘they are the ones who inspired [them].’

Tawheed, an attendee from Maryland, suggested that only the imams that attend should be recognized at the event, as precious time is wasted making announcement when leaders do not  to show up to the event. “It just makes it look like the event and youth are not important to them,” he said. However, others felt that this was unfair as many local imams are sitting in itikaf during the last ten days of Ramadan, so even if they wanted to attend they could not as they are bound by the rules of itikaf.

Sister Hajaratu attends PGMA, she was very happy with how organized the event was. “Wow!”, “Ma sha Allah,” commented attendees as they left the hall on the last fleeting days of Ramdan, looking forward to meeting again next year.