By Sahrish Saleem, MMNS
The change of venue from the Union ballroom with its stained glass windows to Washtenaw Community College with its contemporary hall did not dampen the mood of the Muslim Students Associationâ€™s Michigan Muslims Banquet (formerly the MSA Eid Dinner). Over two hundred people from all communities pooled into the hall, festooned with black and silver balloons.
The new location allowed attendees to relish a catered dinner from Sultanâ€™s Restaurant instead of the bland food typical of the Union. The program began with Master of Ceremonies Noha Moustafa and Ahmed Hozain announcing that all ticket proceeds would be donated for Gaza relief through Islamic Relief. This was followed by MSA President Yamaan Saadeh who welcomed the guests and introduced Imam Moataz Al-Hallak who spoke about the importance of brotherhood in the Muslim Ummah and loving one another for the sake of Allah (SWT).
The guests enjoyed a scrumptious dinner of fetoush salad, hummus, chicken and rice. The entertainment began with Sultan Sharrief, a University of Michigan graduate student, previewing his semi-biographic film, Bilalâ€™s Stand; a film that follows the struggle of a Black Muslim high school student in Detroit who gets accepted to the University of Michigan, but must balance family and religious dilemmas. MSA brothers joined together to revive an old tradition, increasing brotherhood by becoming nasheed artists for the evening. They performed â€œAhmed, Ya Habibiâ€ with tabla accompaniment and a solo tabla performance. The audience showed their enthusiasm and spirit joining in, clapping and singing along.
The main attraction of the evening was comedian Obaida Abdul-Rahim, of the Phatwa Factoryâ€”a T-shirt company, with humorous messages for Muslims. Obaida pulled the crowd in satirizing a variety of topics all communities are guilty of, some of which included Facebook, awkward situations surrounding marriage and boasting about airport security difficulties.
Finally, came the moment that everyone was waiting for â€“ the brothersâ€™ and sistersâ€™ skits. The sistersâ€™ skits exceeded expectations, with sketches such as â€œTGIJ: Thank Goodness Itâ€™s Jummahâ€ and a Muslim parody of â€œCan I Have Yo Number,â€ originally from MadTV. The brothers started off on a serious note, performing a skit reflecting the situation in Palestine. They transitioned into more humorous ones, with sketches such as â€œWho Wants to Win A Million Dinar,â€ based on Slumdog Millionaire, a movie trailer of â€œMuslim Minority Report,â€ and the renowned Banana Manâ€”continued from last year. Although filled with many subtle inside jokes, the brothersâ€™ skits managed to live up to expectations.
Although the debate will continue as to whose skits were funnierâ€”the brothersâ€™ or the sistersâ€™â€”everyone agreed that the dinner ran successfully and this time, everyone enjoyed the food.