Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Islamic Reliefs' "Evening of Inspiration"

"Volunteers For Islamic Relief Get Inspired"

This past Sunday, October 24th, Islamic Relief hosted their 5th Annual Evening of Inspiration benefit concert at Richardson's Charles W. Eisemann Center.  Talk about inspiration! Adoring Muslim fans clamored into the packed center to cheer at a sold out show.  This year the benefit concert featured HUGE new artist Maher Zain, and our favorite Brothers from D.C., Native Deen, as well as a few other amazing Islamic musicians. Proceeds from Islamic Relief's yearly concert go to benefit the non-profit's hundreds of programs that supply water, food and education as well as medical needs for children and their families in deprived countries world wide.  Founded in part, here in the USA, by Br. Anwar Khan, Islamic Relief first began in the UK, by Dr. Hany Al Banna.  Dr. Al Banna was inspired to create Islamic Relief as a result of the famine struggle in Ethiopia, back in 1984.  Islamic Relief is hailed as one of the most respected charity organizations in the world, and is linked with United Nations and World Food Programme.  

-image courtesy of
In NeedAs if you needed to hear more, to get that warm feeling when you think of Islamic Relief?  Well, let me top that off.  For years, loyal "do-gooders" in our local communities across the U.S. have been donating their minds and bodies to assist in huge events such as the "Evening of Inspiration" concerts. Someone has to check tickets, sale concessions, and make sure that evening is organized enough to be as inspiring as it's expected to be!  From children to adults to seniors, each year people line up to volunteer, knowing they are going to be working instead of sitting in a comfy chair with their other friends and families enjoying the show. Now thats giving back!

Clubhouse:Location of Dinner
Islamic Relief doesn't let these years of volunteering go unnoticed! No Sir! (or Madam).  On Monday night, the day after the benefit concert in Richardson, TX, Islamic Relief, along with Sister Laila Khan, devoted wife of Anwar Khan and 12 year volunteer herself, (heart as big as Texas), organized an amazing appreciation dinner for all of the Dallas volunteers. 

Laila Khan with her daughter

 I was lucky enough to be the photographer for this evening, and I am happy to share the wonderful photographs that helped capture the smiles and "thank you's" these volunteers felt.  While photographing I asked Sister Laila (heart as big as Texas) if all of these children would be out with the adults through the whole event.  There were an even amount of kids, compared to the adults and I wondered "Are they going to stay in the theater room so the adults can enjoy their evening?"  Sister Laila smiled warmly (that heart!), and said, "They are the guests as well, most of these kids have been volunteering with IR for years now".  

NEEEEEOOOOOOPPPP....thats the sound of me feeling small for thinking that they were just there and not part of the evening...LOL.  I felt so inspired right then and there...These kids are giving up their play time, video game time, whatever time, to volunteer along with the adults to give back to kids in need and this night was just as much for them.  The children of Sister Laila and Br. Anwar Khan, in fact, have been raised in this environment of giving, sharing, and working hard for those in need.  It's like a second nature to them, and believe me they have a couple of beautiful intelligent little girls that could teach you a few things about the world's struggles.  The children attending the dinner that evening all had a blast! Hot Chocolate flowed and little brown mustaches were running around the huge beautiful club house that hosted the evening dinner.  

Dinner was catered by Fadi's Mediterranean Grill...ummmm can we say YUM!  A beautiful buffet of Middle Eastern delights were sprayed across a beautiful table.  All I could think about was that warm soft pita bread...hmmmmm....pita bread...

Ok, let me focus again, Oh Yes! Dessert!  Strawberry topped Cheesecake, Smoldering Chocolate Cake and Somebody hold be back, Pecan Pie! Now you gotta make sure you say P-e-e-c-a-n Pie...the Texas way!

Everyone enjoyed the evening and the best gift of all, on top of all of this friendship, Cowboys game on the big screen theater, red velvet pool table and all the fancy coffee you can drink...the best was still yet to come.

daughter of Anwar and Laila Khan
When it was just about time to eat, a few more guest arrived.  The beautiful daughter of our organizer (heart), came running to me announcing the arrival of our awaiting anticipation.  Walking in on cool feet and a modest heart, came Maher Zain himself!  Then Br. Naeem of Native Deen, sporting his "Evening of Inspiration" T-shirt and the biggest grin we could handle all night!  The kids were racing up to them, sitting on their laps for photos...(I kept picturing kids sitting on Santa's lap, thinking something good was gonna come of it), but for these kids something good could definitely come, cause these guys were REAL, and with their huge spirits and faith in God, sitting around them could teach any kids a few things! LOL.
Maher Zain
Maher Zain

Br. Naeem of Native Deen with close friends "The Noor Family"

These amazing Islamic artists displayed nothing but modest, humble, yet totally outgoing personalities and it really felt a lot like having a huge dinner with your closest family and friends. It was one of the best shoots I have been a part of because it didn't feel like work, it felt like spending time with really amazing people and I felt this huge need to capture that memory.  Br. Naeem even whipped out a guitar from his pocket and gave us a beautiful intimate acoustic show...well maybe he had to get the guitar from his car but it was just as cool!  With a melodic voice he sang about the struggles of Gaza as onlookers steadied their video phones. 

Br. Naeem-Native Deen

Br. Naeem plays Gaza-Native Deen
Maher Zain and Br. Naeem 
 Maher Zain, after much convincing (modest), hopped on a grand piano that just happened to be there and showed everyone how much he can't play the piano...which of course was absolutely not true!  He hands graced along the keys and music and a lil nasheed flowed over the room.  
Br. Naeem plays for guests of the dinner.

An evening like this, there is only one thing that can be said in conclusion...

Maher Zain poses with Br Anwar Khan and Family


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Blushing Bride...

The Blushing Bride...For most its just a saying, but for most Muslim Brides, it's a literal thing!  Instead of months and months of dating and giving and giving, hoping that he will propose, hoping that she's got what it takes to win his heart, Muslim Brides try a different approach to that thing called love. For these veiled beauties, you better face the "Rents" and cough up a pretty sweet ring before you get any fluttering of her endless lashes.  They are true Blushing Brides because being with their husband is a new and exciting time, everything they do with their husbands will be special and sending plenty of butterflies for years to come because they save the best for last.  Proposal for her hand in marriage is how you are allowed to date her and win her heart.  Gives a whole new meaning to the term "Because Your Worth It".  If he wants to date her, he better feel pretty sure she's worth it because nothing less will do!  The "old fashion" system of courtship for these pious beauties is definitely worthy of a comeback for U.S. society.  I know I'm hoping for this royal treatment for my daughter, whenever I actually have one! LOL...

As most of you know I am a professional photographer and photograph a lot of Muslim weddings and events here in Dallas.
I hope you enjoy a few of my favorites from the formal engagement(Nikkah) of Sarah & Zeshaun.  Does she have amazing skin or what!  May Allah bless them both and give them a long beautiful life together.

Fun fact: Sarah is the daughter of Mariam, a friend of mine and also an American revert to Islam of more than 20 years. Mariam is the proud Mother of 7 beautiful children and #8 is on the way! All of her children attend Private Islamic School, and attend college upon graduation. Her older children are already Hafiz as Quranic education is just as important to both parents as well as social studies.  All 4 of her daughters as well as Mariam wear Hijab beautifully.  Ma'shallah I am so proud to see how close Mariam is to Islam and her family, she makes all American Muslims proud and I hope to one day be as great and patient of a Mother as she has been.  

Congratulations Mariam, what a beautiful pious educated daughter you have raised through the guidance of God, in Islam.  May Sarah be every bit as amazing of a Mother as she was taught to be.