SOUTH BRUNSWICK – More than 600 Muslim student-athletes from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania will play and pray at Saturday’s 2007 Islamic Games.

Held at Crossroads South Middle School, the event will feature competitions in basketball, soccer, volleyball, cricket and various track and field events, with about 30 different Muslim parochial schools and organizations taking part from around the region. The large number of participating athletes might be explained by what the event’s organizers say is a general lack of athletic programs for Muslim schools around the area. In fact, this observation became the basis for the Islamic Game’s founding by Salaudeen Nausrudeen when he was still in high school.

“Muslim schools, numbering almost 40 in New Jersey, [often] do not have sports or athletic programs, which is why we are doing it in May and not deep into the summer because a lot of Muslim schools can participate and be part of the action,” said Nausrudeen.

Muslim students who want to take part in sports will sometimes join up with local youth leagues, but for the more devout among them, this can sometimes be a problematic proposition. The requirement that believers pray five times a day, the need for separate Halal foods, as well as certain dress and behavioral codes can isolate a Muslim athlete from his or her peers both physically and socially. Nausrudeen, who professed a lifelong interest in sports, felt this was regrettable given his feeling of the positive impact sports can have on young people.


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