Students model Islamically run modern institutions like hospitals, television stations
Outlined by Shaykh Safi Khan of the Dar-us-Salaam community three years ago, the concept of an Islamic Fair finally rose above just wishful thinking and planning as Al-Huda School, a private, Islamic school in College Park, Maryland finally hosted its first school-wide Islamic Fair on Tuesday, May 22, 2012.
The goal of the Islamic Fair was to give each class from grades KG-11 the opportunity to creatively and competitively find practical ways of implementing and applying the Islamic concepts they learn beyond just their classroom and daily worship and into their everyday life. Unlike a traditional science fair where individuals present projects, the Islamic Fair is based on class projects which model how Islamic principles would be implemented today in real world applications like an Islamically run hospital or television station.
Living in a day and age when Islam is viewed as an archaic and narrow-minded religion rather than a lifestyle by not only non-Muslims but Muslims as well, the organization of such an event was crucial for the efforts of Al-Huda School. Br. Abdul Qaadir Abdul Khaaliq, the head of the Islamic Studies team, hopes that the Islamic Fair helps the students “realize that Islam is actually very broad and not limited or necessarily limiting to things we need to do in life...”and leads them to finding their own, Islamically permissible ways of implementing Islam during these modern times.
The uniqueness of this event was in it being able to encompass all aspects of life, all the while keeping focus on the goal of keeping Islam the priority . It combined the competitive and scientific aspect of the Science Fair, the Islamic aspect of the Quran Competition, and even the social aspect of Game Night, all without losing focus of the goal- a true reflection of Islam’s ability to be applied everywhere, reflected Anjum Khan, homeroom teacher for the 6th grade girls.
Though it was late in the school year, students were able to deliver far more than what many thought possible. The creativity and motivation the students displayed shined through on all grade levels, from the Islamic television channel, “OUT (Our Ummah Today)” concept presented by the eighth grade girls, to the “Dar Al-Shifah” hospital founded by the sixth grade girls, and to even the da’wah phone application developed by the eighth grade boys- leaving many of the staff and judges in awe. Efforts were not restricted to just older students-- third graders were able to put together a public service announcement video for the event. However, the students also created projects with the intent of more than just the day in mind; many of the students expressed their interest in taking their ideas beyond just a presentation in a classroom and having their creations and ideas actually manifest themselves into the outside world. Waad Mohammad of the 8th grade, remarked, “We want our project for the Islamic Fair to be something like the Muslim Link - which was created by students of the Al-Huda school - and went on to be something the community benefits from.”
Many of the students shared the feeling of being an Ummah on the day of the Islamic Fair. Personal issues were put aside as they all worked together to revamp their classrooms into the concept they had brainstormed throughout the week. “We were able to learn what we didn’t know and we all did it as a class. It really made me feel like I was a part of an ummah!” commented Zamzam Salhan of the 6th grade who learned that practicing archery was a part of Islam after visiting the 7th grade girls Islamic Recreation themed room.
There was a joyous atmosphere surrounding the classes as they prepared throughout the day. “It showed that you can do a lot with Islam and also have fun in a halal way!” exclaimed Anissa Ahmed, of the 7th grade.
Despite this being the first Islamic Fair, both teachers and students are looking eagerly towards the coming years. Students are already brimming with ideas to make next year’s Islamic Fair more memorable, with the hopes that soon, it won’t simply be a school wide event, but rather a community event, as envisioned by Br. Safi Khan. The Islamic Fair left a feeling of hope and inspiration in the air. Nabila Zerrarka, homeroom of 9th Grade Girls, reflected, “It made me think all their ideas are possible, it’s a seed that needs to be taken care of.”