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Wednesday, November 3, 2010

In D.C., Artistry Weds Charity for an 'Evening of Inspiration'

The prayer rugs were laid out in Lisner Auditorium for Maghrib, the evening prayer, just before the show was about to begin. Event producers were charging through the arena, backstage one moment taking dinner orders and on stage the next confirming sound and light adjustments. Volunteers were huddled outside the auditorium entrance going over last-minute plans and preparing to disperse momentarily to man their stations. Everyone had his or her game face on, and I had my camera in hand.

This year marks Islamic Relief USA’s fifth annual Evening of Inspiration (EOI) benefit concert to raise money and awareness for children in need worldwide, but it was my first time attending an EOI concert. As I watched hundreds of people pour into Lisner Auditorium to attend the event, I felt a rush of excitement for the opportunity to see Native Deen and Maher Zain perform live.

I went backstage to get a glimpse of the artists’ pre-performance and found Native Deen members Naeem Muhammad, Joshua Salaam and Abdul-Malik Ahmad in mid-dua’a, asking Allah for guidance and blessings. Soon, event host Karim Amin called the group to the stage and the show was on.

As I shifted from one location to another in the front row and backstage to capture the night in images, I found myself singing along with Native Deen’s rendition of “Tala’al Badru Alayna” and Maher Zain’s “Ya Nabi Salam Alayka.” The beats and lyrics worked synonymously to capture the audience, which ranged in age from infants to the elderly.

As the evening played on like a song itself, children graced the stage to sing along with the artists. The evening was all about children — from those who inspired the event (the ones in need) to those who attended the event. Children in need worldwide may have never heard of Maher Zain and Native Deen, but the cause for which these faithful artists sang was a higher one. I had little hope of capturing that on camera.

-- Muneeza Tahir
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