By Susan Schwartz, MMNS
The Islamic Center of Hawthorne, through its youth group, hosted a second annual Al Muâ€™akhah Banquet — the word means brotherhood in Arabic — in Hawthorne, Ca. this past Saturday evening. The event, titled: Beyond Names and Faces, was well attended and featured Muslim youth groups from Islamic Centers throughout the Southern part of the state.
Attending groups included, but were not limited to: Culver City Girlsâ€™ Youth Group; Islamic Center of Orange County Youth Group; Al Ansar Youth Group, and the Islamic Society of Corona-Norco Youth Group.
After a brief introduction, a reading from the holy Quran followed.
The performance portion of the evening began with entertaining rap music performed by the Bengali Crown Family, a group of young men of Bangladeshi origin. Skits, video tapes and poems were presented to an enthusiastic audience. While humor was often the main ingredient of each performance. it was a humor that dealt realistically with such serious topics as Islamophobia; respect for parental authority, and the very real need to see – as the theme of the event stated – the person behind a face and a name.
A video clip on â€œIslamophobiaâ€, though performed in a satirical vein, reminded the audience of the too real situation that faces Muslims in their daily life. A segment on high gasoline prices, again intended as humor, drove home the inescapable truth that materialism with respect to the ease and convenience of driving a car can negatively impact oneâ€™s spiritual life.
â€œThis has given me something to think about when I meet someone.â€ said a young woman after the first half of the event.
Sheikh Yassir Fazaga from the Islamic Center in Mission Viejo addressed the audience. He urged his listeners to see the person behind the face and the name. He urged his audience not to hesitate to proclaim feelings of friendship, and to see in a non-Muslim a potential Muslim.
The evening included prayer and an excellent Middle Eastern meal.
Groups which supported the Al Muâ€™akhah banquet included, but were not limited to: Islamic Relief (IR); the Muslim American Society (MAS); In Focus newspaper, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC).
Two booths were present: the aforementioned In Focus newspaper and the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation.