Commemorating Eid ul-Fitr through Athletic Competition
This evening, Wednesday, September 7th, Secretary Clinton will host a reception commemorating Eid ul-Fitr. Eid ul-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting.
The State Department has been hosting celebrations around Ramadan and Eid for over 15 years. As part of this year’s events, the Secretary will honor American Muslims’ contributions to athletic competition.
Honorees will include players from the movie Fordson, a film about a majority Muslim high school football team in Dearborn, Michigan; NBA and NFL players; college athletes; and amateur competitors in boxing, weightlifting and fencing.
Below is a partial list of the State Department honoree bios collected from official sources and the athletes themselves:
Ms. Kulsoom Abdullah
Kulsoom Abdullah is among other Muslim women athletes who have been blocked from national and international competitions because they insisted on modest dress; the International Weightlifting Federation recently approved new guidelines that give women, particularly Muslim women, the option of dressing in attire that doesn't leave their legs and arms exposed.
She is looking forward to representing the United States in international weightlifting competitions. She blogs about her experiences at www.liftingcovered.com.
Mr. Oday Aboushi
Collegiate Football Player
University of Virginia
Oday Aboushi was an all league football player in high school. Rated number 3 high school football prospect in New York State. 4 star football prospect. Received over 20 football scholarship offers. Selected to play in the New York vs. New Jersey All Star Game. Selected to play in and started on the USA junior Olympic football team where team won gold medal. Started at offensive tackle for the University for Virginia as a true freshman. Started every game as a true sophomore for UVA. ACC lineman of the week in September 2010. Plays both left and right tackle.
Aboushi is the ninth of 10 children, including an older brother, Aymen, who played football at Fordham. Their parents both were born in Palestine before moving to the United States as pre-teens, and Arabic is still spoken in their home.
Ms. Noor Amr
Collegiate Basketball Player
In high school, Noor was a part of the 2010 state championship team with a record of 26-0. She was an academic award winner all four years. At Coe College, her team won the conference tournament, advancing it to the NCAA Division III tournament for the first time in school history. They hosted rounds one and two of the tournament and advanced to the sweet sixteen.
Mr. Kenneth Faried
Professional Basketball Player
Kenneth Bernard Faried Lewis, commonly known as Kenneth Faried, is an American professional basketball player for the Denver Nuggets of the NBA. He was a forward-center at Morehead State University, where he was named Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year and an All-American in 2010.
He told the New York Times: “I’m extremely thankful. You think you have a plan, but God — well, I’m Muslim — Allah has a different plan.” The Wall Street Journal asks, “Could He Be the Next Rodman?”
Mr. Omar Kaddurah
Academically or athletically, Grand Blanc High School senior Omar Kaddurah could write his own ticket when it came to choosing colleges. In the classroom, he has a 4.2 grade-point average while taking advanced courses. In his specialty on the track, he has few peers nationally. From a list of universities with impressive academic and distance running credentials, Kaddurah has chosen Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Kaddurah plans to take pre-med and biology courses at Georgetown.
Kaddurah is a two-time All-Stater in cross country, finishing 15th two years ago and third this season, but his most amazing performances have come on the track. He won the 1,600-meter run at last season’s state meet in 4:07.67, the fastest time ever in a state meet in any division. Two weeks earlier, he set a Flint-area record by winning the regional in 4:07.2. On June 19, he finished third in a close mile race at the New Balance Nationals in North Carolina, missing first place by 0.41 seconds.
Mr. Amir Khan
Professional Boxer (UK)
WBA World Light Welterweight Champion
Amir Khan is an English professional boxer of Pakistani descent who is currently the unified IBF and WBA World Light Welterweight Champion. Currently, Khan is rated as the best boxer in the Light Welterweight division, above Timothy Bradley; who holds the other two major titles in the division. Khan is also rated #9 and #14 pound-for-pound best boxer in the world by Boxrec and Sports Illustrated respectively.
Although of relatively young age, Khan has already amassed many achievements along the way. He is the youngest British Olympic boxing medalist when he captured silver at the 2004 Athens Olympics at the age of 17. He is also one of the youngest British world champions ever, winning the WBA world title, at the age of 22. Khan is a practicing Muslim.
Ms. Sarah Kureshi
Sole US Competitor in the 4th Islamic World Games in Tehran
Sarah Kureshi, a middle-distance runner, didn't know what to expect as the first American female athlete to compete in Iran since the Islamic revolution in 1979. She even brought the Stars and Stripes, uncertain whether the Iranians would provide a flag for the opening ceremony. But as the sole American competitor in the 4th Islamic Women Games in Tehran this week, she needn't have bothered. Officials here "had a big US flag ready," says Sarah Kureshi, and Iranians have provided a big welcome to match.
"I'm proud to be an American Muslim athlete - I love America, and the freedom [there] to be a Muslim; and I love Iran," says Kureshi, who made the visit with one coach who helped organize the U.S. presence. She speaks often of "empowering women through sports," and hopes in the future to work in the Middle East, starting public-health and preventive-medicine programs from within communities.
Ms. Ibtihaj Muhammad
Seeking Slot on the US Olympic Team
Ibtihaj is likely to be the first practicing Muslim woman to represent the U.S. at the Olympic Games. The New Jersey native is currently ranked 11th in the world in women's sabre, a discipline of fencing. Only one American ranks higher: Mariel Zagunis, the two-time Olympic and world champion.
The International Olympic Committee and the U.S. Olympic Committee do not track athletes' religion, but if Muhammad makes the Olympic team, she would likely be the first practicing Muslim woman to represent the U.S. at the Games.
She has dual bachelor's degrees in international relations and African and African-American studies. Muhammad also attended the School for International Training in Rabat, Morocco (Summer 2006) where she completed courses in Moroccan culture and intensive Arabic.
Mr. Dahir Nasser
Collegiate Basketball Player
California Polytechnic University, Pomona
Cal Poly Pomona senior Dahir Nasser wanted redemption, and he helped make it happen on a day when he scored 12 points in a 65-53 victory over Indiana (Pennsylvania), lifting the Broncos to their first Division II Men’s Basketball Championship in school history in Springfield, Massachusetts.
Nasser started playing organized basketball with the Tempe (Arizona) Boys and Girls Club. As a chubby eighth grader, he went on to play for Madison One Junior High School. The Cal Poly starting 6'1" guard graduated from McClintock High School in 2006 and attended Phoenix College his freshman year. His family resides in Mesa and they are members of the Islamic Center of Tempe. Future plans include the Masters/Ph.D. program in Psychology at University of LaVerne in California.
Mr. Ephraim Salaam
Professional Football Player
A former San Diego State player, Salaam began his NFL career with the Atlanta Falcons in 1998 as a seventh-round draft choice. He started all 16 games that year at right tackle for a Falcons team that advanced to the Super Bowl. Salaam started a total of 30 games for the Texans in 2006 and 2007, but was relegated to backup duty last season, appearing in 13 games with no starts.
In stints with Atlanta (1998-2001), Denver (2002-2003), Jacksonville (2004-2005), and Houston (2006-2008), he started in 129 of 154 appearances. Regarded mostly as a strong run-blocker early in his career, Salaam has improved his pass-protection skills.
Ms. Natalie Zeenni
Collegiate Soccer Player
University of New Mexico
With a season and a first-ever CIF championship appearance on the line, Natalie Zeenni was there. Once more, with the stakes and the stage at an even higher level in the CIF Southern Section Division I championship, Natalie Zeenni was there — on two occasions in fact — to once again save the day. Over the span of the last three soccer seasons, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy's success has expanded into the program's greatest accomplishments and, inevitably, the area's. And every season, Natalie Zeenni has been there, she's been a constant.
Tireless in her approach on the field, she was a dogged defender able to lead the charge in shutting down many of the nation's best offenses this past season. She's showcased the versatility to be an outstanding midfielder, as well, and when needed most, she's stepped up to be a leader for a Tologs team venturing into the uncharted waters of unprecedented CIF triumph.