As Team Dar-us-Salaam Grabs Eighth MIST Win, a Reason to Celebrate for All

Community News


Photo by Zubair Nizami.


Refusing to surrender its seven-year-winning streak, Team Darussalam (DUS/Al-Huda School) swept up its eighth first place trophy at the annual Muslim Inter-Scholastic Tournament (MIST) held from March 30-April 1, 2012 at the University of Maryland, College Park, setting the spotlight on the school’s iron-firm success and on a record-shattering tournament that has transformed the landscape of the Muslim community since its establishment nearly ten years ago.

Established in 2003, MIST is a nationwide competition that pits high school teams against each other in over 31 competitions, varying from math to prepared essay to short film to Quran memorization, in a three-day-weekend packed with educational workshops, activities, and competitions centered around one theme. MIST has 11 regional tournaments scattered across the U.S., from California to New York and Texas to Toronto; top 5 winners from all regions compete in MIST Nationals.

This year, a record number of 639 competitors and 69 teams from as far as Richmond, Virginia and Hagerstown, Maryland competed - a nearly double hike compared to 2010’s 35 teams and 352 competitors.

Team Eleanor Roosevelt, an MSA representing Eleanor Roosevelt High School, snagged the 2nd place prize for the third year in a row, aggressively cutting away at the first place point lead and giving DUS a force to reckon with.

Regional Director Adam Kareem said point differences between DUS and the second-place team reduced from about 100 to 30 points in the last two years.

“In the past, DUS has won by almost double the point score of second place. The competition is really increasing,” he said.

DUS’s success has been attributed to the team’s passion, their coaches, and level of preparation. Some said they believe the backbone of the school’s community has given the school an upper hand while others believe its sheer size – over 40 competitors – is a factor.

“Yes, they do have a large team which helps improve their chances,” Kareem said, “But having a larger team doesn’t necessitate an overall victory.”  
This year, ER and Western Tech placed 2nd and 3rd respectively, compared to Islamic Saudi Academy – DUS former longtime competition – and its 50 members.

“You couple a desire to win a dedicated coaching staff and you have a formula for success that’s hard to beat,” Kareem said.

Public schools, many public school competitors assert, have more difficulty establishing meeting rooms, organizing events, and rallying community support around their cause – factors many believe give private schools an upper hand in the competition.

“There’s huge stigma associated with being on the Darussalam team,” Arif Kabir, a former DUS competitor, former assistant coach and current judge, said. “I saw it in the judging room this year - it’s almost as if the stereotype is working against the team, hampering down school spirit.”

“My teammates were actually bawling into my shoulder,” DUS freshman Raadia Khan said. “We couldn’t believe we [won].”

MIST’s year 10-year-streak

Winning teams aside, MIST has been credited with bringing together MSAs, honing Muslim youth’s identities, and bridging the divide between day-to-day interests and student’s religious responsibilities, giving competitors “an arena to explore their Islamic understanding and express it in a way that speaks to who they are,” Kareem said.

MIST offers a set of unique competitions not offered readily in other venues – including short film, fashion design, improv, and spoken word – allowing competitors to try new projects and gauge their potential, competitors said.

This exploration has transcended beyond high school and into-post graduate life, Sanjana Quasem, a former competitor and worker in the public health field said.

Others competitors cite the Islamic, hyped, energetic, and God-fearing atmosphere as the highlight of their weekend. “There’s a real sense of brotherhood and sisterhood,” a Sherwood High School competitor said, “You don’t see it that often everywhere.”

MISTs key, however, is that it serves as a dual enrichment system – run primarily by college-students just a few years older than the high school competitors.

“Whether you are a competitor, volunteer, organizer, judge, or speaker, there is so much that you can give to MIST but at the same time, so much you can take for your own personal development - and that is what I find most beautiful about MIST,” Quasem, a long-timer DC MIST organizer stepping down this year, said.

Jumpstarting MSAs

The private school’s success and ongoing competition with the public school has been accompanied by a shifting landscape for Muslim youth as MIST connects and strengthens MSAs across the region.

In recent years, the strength and size of public high school has been increasing. Herndon High School joined with 6 members and now has over 30. Blair High School, Western Tech High School, and dozens of other schools came with similar numbers.

“Before members of high school MSAs were largely disconnected - they are now thrust into situations that require them to work as a team. Students who may not have had a strong Muslim identity or background are now regularly meeting with their fellow Muslim peers to prepare for their competitions,” Mahvish Ameen, DC MIST’s former regional director and a competitor for three years, said.

“It’s the rallying point we need,” Osama Eshera, a University of Maryland senior and former top four-year-competitor with Atholton High School, said.

“A great trend is starting - new schools and MSAs we’ve never heard before are emerging and joining,” former ER competitor and current coach Sheima Gimie said.

Only until a few years ago, the now-winning ER team with nearly 29 members was one of these unknown. Gimie was the only person on the team.

“I didn’t think others would be interested – a Muslim weekend-long tournament with registration costs included? Nope,” Gimie said. However, when she casually introduced MIST in response to a “how was your weekend” question at an MSA meeting, students were drawn in.

“No one knows how ER got to the top except for Allah (SWT),” she said. “We were just determined to have someone walk across the [awards] stage once.”

In 2008, the team’s only winning was team banner – and now the team has scooped up trophies for over a dozen competitions.

The recent success and growth of public school teams has bolstered the efforts of many teams, parent and coach of Richmond’s James River High School, Mohammed Rais, said.

On the flipside, some MSAs struggle to limp forward as MIST quickly takes the center-stage of MSA activities, overriding some members’ desires to “just have fun.”

At Clarksburg High School, a freshman, excited to finally join MIST, filled the MSA bandwagon with all the necessary ingredients: she formed a brand-new MSA within weeks of joining the school, recruited a sponsor, and had almost a dozen committed members by her side. Yet, she competed was the only person to compete on behalf of her team.

For Springbrook High School - a school that has a stake in MIST for over five years as compared to Clarksburg’s fresh fling- the story is similar.

“For the past two years, the only time he had an MSA meeting that consisted of more than two people was in January - when we got pizza,” former president of Springbrook’s MSA, Adam Hussain, said. “When I questioned this anomaly, I was told that I was ‘obsessed with MIST’ and that it was ‘a waste of time.’”

The MIST Board is looking forward to more expansion in the future, especially by developing and honing team coaches.

“Many times what we’re seeing is teams that need coaches that are willing to push them, set up practices, and really work to prepare the them for the competition ahead,” Kareem said. “This is something that MIST is in increasing need of as the numbers of participants continue to grow.”

Dual Enrichment

While MIST has provided a support area for MSAs, it is also working to pop college campus bubbles that disconnect many college students from community activism while forcing area masajid to be drawn into Muslim high school youth, MIST organizers said.

Within MSAs, the close collaboration of George Washington, George Mason, University of Maryland, College Park, and Baltimore organizers to be involved in each other’s college-campus events while encouraging organizers to bridge gaps between college youth and the older community – gaps that can often emerge as MSAs become mini-replacements for community masajid.

“When one part of the Ummah aches, the whole the aches,” Jamal Aladdin, a former UMD student and current marketing committee chair, said. “It’s easy to replace that body with the college community.”

Organizers and volunteers regularly reach out to masajid and community members to coordinate, sponsor, and help with the event, a key factor which increases the level of familiarity between people and prevents potential disconnects.

“Most of our board members are quite active in their college communities, as well as the Muslim community, and as a result, MIST serves as the stop-gap of our generation’” Jamal Aladdin, a former UMD student and current marketing chair, said. “We give khutbahs about MIST, approach local businesses and masajid for information sessions and sponsorship, or even walk a parent through registration.”

The competition has also helped put high school age youth on the map in area masajid, Ameen said.
“A lot of the high school teams regularly meet at local masajid as they are preparing for the competitions since it is a common area. Thus, in addition to high schoolers meeting, talking, and working with their Muslim peers more often, but you see them now coming back to the masjid even after MIST has ended because it has become a more familiar place to them.”

And in many families, MIST is a household name, becoming what Sehrish Ameen, a former competitor and current organizer, called “a family oriented event.” This year’s theme challenged students to examine the American Muslim family system, themed “Reconnecting our Hearts to Home.”


For many competitors, coaches, and community members MIST has become a second-home. “That’s what our team, our region has become – a family,” Gimie said.”

MIST hopes to the expand DC MIST to the nation’s capital – though named after DC, the regional tournament garners few teams from the Washington area.

A former organizer, who asked to remain anonymous for this article, believes the MIST board needs to challenge itself to move beyond planning for a single-weekend.

“Moving forward, I think MIST needs to make a concision decision about how it plans to be a means through which all of its participants (organizers, competitors, judges) plug-in to our larger community,” the source said.

As part of a long-list of expansions, DC MIST has begun to cast a wide net for experiences judges and community members to create dialogue with the larger community.

It organized a community involvement fair for the first time this year, calling nearly a dozen community organizations, including Al-Maghrib Institute, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, and the youth counseling forum, Nur Youth Forum, to set up booth and pitch what they do to the MIST community.

The dream? “MIST should reach every high school in the Maryland, DC, and Northern Virginia in the same way that these schools field basketball and football teams,” Kareem said.

“It’s one of those things that’s just so good that you want to share it with everyone and it does so much good that you really need the support of everyone,” Kareem said.

“For one it has definitely gotten people married. If that’s not a fruit of MIST after a decade then I don’t know what to tell you!”

The top 5 winners from DC MIST will be competing against ten other regions at MIST Nationals in Toronto from July 6-8.


The following are the top 5 winners

1. Sabeen Rana – Barrie School
2. tubah shafi – Bowie High School
3. Tashawn Jackson – The Floets
4. Aqsa Arain – Gar-Field Champions
5. aisha samaila – LHS Saxons


1. Safiyah Cheatam – Western Doves
2. Ishaaq Ibrahim – Wootton MSA
3. Rahma Zakaria – Dar-us-Salaam
4. Farah Elherazy – Team ISA
5. Taaj Clark – Eleanor Roosevelt High School

1. Ali Waseem – Sherwood
2. Arsla Arain – Gar-Field Champions
3. Rumeesa Rais – James River High School
4. Ankur Vaidya – Western Tech
5. Sadia Naseem – Eleanor Roosevelt High School

Digital Computer Art
1. Anhar Karim – Deen Champs
2. Mohamed Idiris – Dar-us-Salaam
3. Ghaziyah Khalid – Hammond High SChool   
4. Laiela Ahmad – Salisbury
5. zubda khokhar – Hammond High SChool

Fashion Design
1. Na’imah Abdus-Shakur – Eleanor Roosevelt High School
2. Zahra Aligabi – Dar-us-Salaam
3. Amirah N. Fareed – Herndon High
4. tasneem abukhdeir – Western Tech
5. Azizah abdul-samad – Team Blair

1. Eleanor Roosevelt High School
2. Atholton Raiders
3. Dar-us-Salaam
4. Team Blair
5. Springbrook MSA

Test One
1. Hamdi Kamus – Springbrook MSA
2. Omer Ahmed – tjMSA
3. Rana Suliman – Team ISA
4. Yaser Qazi – Colonials
5. Bhre Sumitro – Team Blair

Test Two
1. Zaid Bilgrami – MoCo Rockets
2. Danish Akbar – MoCo Rockets
3. Fatima Khan – Dar-us-Salaam
4. Nimra Chaudhry – Western Tech
5. Suldano Abdiruhman – Western Doves

Test Three

1. Raneem Saleh – Dar-us-Salaam
2. Tasneem Shaikh – Team ISA
3. Nadia Rentia – tjMSA
4. mantaqaa kabir – Bowie High School
5. Safiyah Cheatam – Western Doves

Test Four
1. Samiha Islam – Eleanor Roosevelt High School
2. Areeba Rashid – LHS Saxons
3. Yusra Gimie – Eleanor Roosevelt High School
4. Omar Malik – Centreville High School MSA
5. Junaid Ahmed – Park View Patriots

Brothers’ Memorization
1. ibrahim hussen – Team Blair
2. Muhammad Coovadia – Cavaliers2012
3. adnan zaber – Dar-us-Salaam
4. AbdurRahman Williams – Western Tech
5. Karam Hijazi – Dar-us-Salaam

Sisters’ Memorization
1. Aisha Ali – Eleanor Roosevelt High School
2. Sumaiyah Khan – Dar-us-Salaam
3. Yasmine Eshera – River Hill High School
4. Izza Qureshi – Space Ninja Smurfs
5. Yasmeen Chapman – Dar-us-Salaam

Brothers’ Advanced Memorization
1. Usman Qadri – Smithsburg High School
2. Adib Laskar – Eleanor Roosevelt High School
3. Musab Muhie – Dar-us-Salaam
4. Abdulrhman Elamin – Team Blair
5. Musaabir Laiyemo – Team ISA

Sisters’ Advanced Memorization
1. Mamata abdou – Team Blair
2. Sakinah Ishaq – Dar-us-Salaam
3. Zakiyyah Ishaq – Dar-us-Salaam
4. Vivian Zohery – Team ISA
5. Maryam Laiyemo – Team ISA

Brothers’ Tajweed
1. Abdullah Ahmad – Herndon High
2. Naeem Baig – Dar-us-Salaam
3. Hamza Choudhury – Team Blair
4. Mohammed Hayat Tayyab Marso – Parkdale High
5. Warsame Hired – Bowie High School

Sisters’ Tajweed
1. Zahra Nizami – Dar-us-Salaam
2. Nishwath Samiya – Eleanor Roosevelt High School
3. Zaakira L. Ahmed – Dar-us-Salaam
4. Yasmine Elhelaly – Team ISA
5. Sayema Tareq – Wootton MSA

1. Misba Samiya – Eleanor Roosevelt High School
2. Walee Khan – Team Blair
3. Osama Naeem – Dar-us-Salaam
4. Zakariya Adam Salhan – Dar-us-Salaam
5. Adam Hussain – Springbrook MSA

Prepared Essay
1. Urooj Fatima – Eleanor Roosevelt High School
2. Nimra Chaudhry – Western Tech
3. mostafa salameh – Team ISA
4. Iman Ahmed – Dar-us-Salaam
5. Ali Waseem – Sherwood

Extemporaneous Essay
1. Bisma Rais – Midlothian High School
2. Humaira Haq – Western Tech
3. Saad Guliwala – tjMSA
4. Adam Hussain – Springbrook MSA
5. Kaiynat Amir – Cosby Titans

Original Oratory
1. Adib Laskar – Eleanor Roosevelt High School
2. Aziza Salako – Dar-us-Salaam
3. Amina S. Thomas – Dar-us-Salaam
4. Tehzeeb Hassan – P.B.U.H. (Posterity Brings Us Hope)
5. Sarah Ahmed – P.B.U.H. (Posterity Brings Us Hope)

Extemporaneous Speaking
1. Attiya Latif – Smithsburg High School
2. Ahmed Elsayyad – Deen Champs
3. zubda khokhar – Hammond High SChool
4. Naseeb Riaz – MCS Hawks
5. Faraz Ahsan – Eleanor Roosevelt High School

Brothers’ Improv
1. Dar-us-Salaam
2. Herndon High
3. Eleanor Roosevelt High School
4. P.B.U.H. (Posterity Brings Us Hope)
5. Team ISA

Sisters’ Improv
1. Western Doves
2. Team ISA
3. Bowie High School
4. Dar-us-Salaam
5. Team Hebron

Short Fictional Story
1. Aisha Khatib – Western Tech
2. Amina Iro – Eleanor Roosevelt High School
3. Khadra Said – Lake Braddock Secondary School
4. Nayeem Ali – Dar-us-Salaam
5. Abeerah Younus – Western Tech

Poetry - Literature
1. Rahma Zakaria – Dar-us-Salaam
2. Gullnar Syed – Midlothian High School
3. Rana Suliman – Team ISA
4. Blanca Villeda – Parkdale High
5. Jai Nawzadi – Herndon High

Poetry - Spoken Word
1. Naeem Baig – Dar-us-Salaam
2. Aysha Hoque – Lake Braddock Secondary School
3. Taaj Clark – Eleanor Roosevelt High School
4. Malwand Gulban – Lake Braddock Secondary School
5. Azizah abdul-samad – Team Blair

Children’s Book
1. Maheen Khan – Henrico High School
2. Na’imah Abdus-Shakur – Eleanor Roosevelt High School
3. Jannah Asaad – Dar-us-Salaam
4. Mohamad Foualdi – MCS Hawks
5. Aymon Malik – Dar-us-Salaam

Scholastic Bowl
1. Eleanor Roosevelt High School
2. Western Tech
3. tjMSA
4. Dar-us-Salaam
5. MoCo Rockets

1. Faraz Ahsan – Eleanor Roosevelt High School
2. Leila R’ghioui – Seton Keough
3. Syed Ghazain Jaffery – P.B.U.H. (Posterity Brings Us Hope)
4. Samee Khan – Herndon High
5. Tahmina Achekzai – tjMSA

Math Olympics
1. Nadia Rentia – tjMSA
2. Samiha Islam – Eleanor Roosevelt High School
3. Omar Malik – Centreville High School MSA
4. Syed Hossain – Herndon High
5. Muhammad Talha Salis – Dar-us-Salaam

Brothers’ Nasheed
1. Lake Braddock Secondary School
2. The Floets
3. Team Blair
4. Dar-us-Salaam
5. South Lakes

Sisters’ Nasheed

1. Hammond High School
2. Western Tech
3. Team Blair
4. Eleanor Roosevelt High School
5. Team ISA

Business Venture

1. Barrie School
2. Eleanor Roosevelt High School
3. Gar-Field Champions
4. Team ISA
5. MoCo Rockets

Research Methods
1. Western Tech
2. Eleanor Roosevelt High School
3. River Hill High School
4. MCS Hawks
5. Team ISA

Community Service Project
1. Dar-us-Salaam
2. Lake Braddock Secondary School
3. P.B.U.H. (Posterity Brings Us Hope)
4. Briar Woods High School MSA
5. Eleanor Roosevelt High School

Science Fair

1. Herndon High
2. Briar Woods High School MSA
3. Park View Patriots
4. Dar-us-Salaam
5. Team ISA

Short Film
1. MoCo Rockets
2. Dar-us-Salaam
3. tjMSA
4. Deen Champs
5. Team Blair

1. MCS Hawks
2. Dar-us-Salaam
3. Bowie High School
4. Eleanor Roosevelt High School
5. Towson

1. Eleanor Roosevelt High School
2. Dar-us-Salaam
3. Team ISA
4. Deen Champs
5. Seton Keough

Brothers’ Basketball
1. Team Blair
2. James Madison
3. MoCo Ballers
4. Stuart MSA
5. Paint Branch

Sisters’ Basketball
1. Lake Braddock
2. TIE: James Madison and Dar-us-Salaam
3. Western Tech
4. TIE: Team Blair + Wootton MSA
5. N/A