The 27th Annual Riyaadah
By Abu Usamah
The Riyaadah is defined as "a physical exertion or sport", and is an annual athletic competition, Islamic cultural affair, and convention. It is being held July 17-19, 2009, in Philadelphia at the Temple University Complex. This national event is the occasion where communities from around the country come together to compete in various athletic activities and interact with each other in a spirit of brother/sisterhood and unity.
Although this year marks the 27th year of the event, the genesis of the Riyaadah goes back even further. The origination of athletic competition among the Muslim communities in America was first initiated upon the formation of the Dar ul-Islam Movement.
In 1969, Ya-Sin Masjid under the leadership of Imam Yahya Abdul-Kareem, invited other communities to join them in forming a national Dar ul-Islam federation. Masjid Mu’min/Islamic Revivalist Movement in Cleveland, OH, under the leadership of Imam Mutawwaf Abdus-Shaheed, was the first community to join. Masjid Muhajadeen in Philadelphia, PA, under the leadership of Imam Ali Ahmad, was the second. These three founding communities grew tired of the boasting as to who was better in basketball, so they decided to have a tournament competition. Thus in 1969 the first Dar ul-Islam Olympic Games were held at Pratt University in Brooklyn, NY.
As the Dar ul-Islam Movement expanded with community programs such as the Rad (which was organized by Al-Hajj Hussain Abdellah) for the men, the Janatul-Muminaat for the women, the Jawaala (scouts) for boys and Binatul-Muslimah (Muslim girl scouts) for girls, this created an impetus for a greater variety of athletic events and family activities at the annual competition. At its zenith 31 different communities including those from Canada and the Caribbean participated in the competitions.
In 1982, with the discontinuance of the Dar ul-Islam Movement, Imam Jamil Abdullah Al Amin reorganized the Riyaadah to what it is today to again bring together different Islamic communities and foster a national brotherhood and sisterhood. Over the past 26 years the competition and activities have grown to include Qur’anic recitation, track and field, martial arts, theater, lectures, sisters-only activities, rides and games for children, and much more.
The organizing committee is making an exhaustive effort to reach out not only to communities that have participated in the past, but also to those who have not. This collaboration will help to strengthen families in the Deen and build capacity within each individual masjid in these turbulent times.
Join us in the spirit of Islam and togetherness. You will enjoy yourself, your family will enjoy themselves and your Islamic consciousness will strengthen, Insha’Allah – all at the same time!
For more information visit www.riyaadah09.org.
Abu Usamah (Akil Fahd) is the Chair of SHARE Detroit