MIST2010a(April 18, 2010) – Muslims high school students in the Greater Toronto Area are gearing up to compete in the Muslim Interscholastic Tournament (MIST) to be held on May 21-24 at University of Toronto, St. George Campus.

“Over the last three years, MIST has become one of the largest Muslim youth initiatives in the North America,” Hamzah Moin, Regional Director of MIST Toronto, told the MIST pre-launch Gala last Friday evening at the ISNA Canada Centre in Mississauga.

“The 2008 tournament had 80 competitors and 30 volunteers and judges. In 2009 the tournament had almost 300 competitors and 60 volunteers and judges. This year we are expecting 500 competitors and 100 volunteers and judges.”

MIST (Muslim Interscholastic Tournament) is famous for being a fun, educational, interactive program of competitions and workshops geared towards bringing high school students together from around the nation to develop leadership, communication, and other creative skills, all while gaining a deeper understanding of Islam and Muslims.

Keynote speaker at the gala, Toronto lawyer Faisal Kutty, spoke of his personal experiences as a teenager and the impact of youth activities such as MYNA (Muslim Youth of North America) in reconciling his Muslim faith with his Canadian identity.

Sheik Abdalla Idris of ISNA Canada led a fund raising appeal and encouraged the audience to bring ‘joy to the hearts of youths’ by supporting MIST.

Muneeb Nasir, President of the Olive Tree Foundation (OTF), in announcing a grant from the OTF to support of this year’s tournament, commended the organizers and volunteers for their exceptional service.

The evening included an engaging debate between a brother and sister duo and a cameo appearance by the up-and-coming group nasheed band, Halal Meat.

MIST was founded in 2001 by a freshman at the University of Houston who saw a need for a program that can guide high school students in all aspects of their academic and personal life. She saw that high school students needed a place where they can belong and feel like they are contributing to their future careers as well as their community. She decided to start a tournament that combined many aspects of the academic arena including art, writing, and community service.

In May 2001, she presented the idea to several dedicated members of the Houston community from various backgrounds, as well as officers of the MSA at the University of Houston. With their help and encouragement, the first tournament took place in 2002 with about 150 students from Houston, Austin, and Dallas. Today, the tournament is held across many cities and currently has thousands high school participants across North America.

This year’s MIST theme is “Lantern of Modesty: Reflecting the Light from Within.”

To find out more about MIST and to support this youth initiative, visit www.misttoronto.ca