Over the past few years the Annual Islamic Games attracted much excitement and participation. Since the Islamic Games is developing at a rapid pace and will soon be launching its Regional Games, I thought it would be best to share a bit of history with the TSM readers. The Islamic Games was initially a project of the Muslim Workers Activites (MWA), a very active organization made up of brothers and sisters primarily from Guyana, South America. Most of their members were youths and very involved in Islamic development, sports and athletics; as a result they started the Annual Islamic Games to bring Muslim athletes and their family together to compete in unity and brotherhood, and that was the beginning.The original organizing committee included Merajudeen Khan, Salaudeen Nausrudeen, Fazal Rahaman, Abuzar Ahmed, Aftabuddin Nausrudeen, Shaikh Abdullah Adhami and a few others. The small but very focused group successfully organized the Games from 1987 to 1991. During those initial years, the games grew rapidly from just a few hundred athletes to more than 800 athletes annually. Events included basketball, soccer, volleyball, track & field, cycling, arm wrestling and other non-competitive events.
Some of the past participants of the Islamic Games included Imam Siraj Wahhaj, Imam Jamil Al-Amin, Omar Amanat and many others who are today very successful and productive American Muslims. Participants came from NY, NJ, CT, PA and other nearby states and represnting an array of Muslims organizations and ethnicities. After 1991 the Islamic Games were put on hold. With a re-energized team and a stronger vision, the Islamic Games made its modern debut on Memorial Weekend 2007 with some assistance from ICNA. The response to the Games was phenomenal, more than 600 athletes participated in 2007 and that number grew to more than 1700 in 2008. Spectators grew from 1500 in 2007 to 6000 in 2008.The 2009 Games is expected to attract more than 2200 athletes in more than 250 events and projected spectators of more than 10,000.