ANN ARBOR - A Michigan Muslim school is planning to organize the world's first national spelling bee in an effort to help connect the sizable minority with the wider American society.
The competition will "help connect the Muslim community to the mainstream community." Tausif Malik, the owner of TMA Worldwide with his wife Asma, told Ann Arbor news portal.
Muslims are not aware of spelling bees because they are focused on getting their children into engineering or medicine.
A spelling bee is a competition where contestants, usually children, are asked to spell English words.
The concept is thought to have originated in the United States.
The Muslim spelling bee is scheduled to start on Saturday, April 14.
Children will be divided into three age categories, 6-8, 9-11 and 12-14.
Two winners per age group from each regional competition will move on to the US finals in May in Des Plaines, Ill.
Precious Sprouts of Ann Arbor, a non-profit K-2 Islamic school which operates out of a small home, will host the competition.
We were floored by the statement (from Precious Sprouts) that they would be willing to do it, Malik said.
Founded in 2010 and enrolling just 31 pupils, the private school keeps a cooperative business model.
They are small but have big vision. â¦ We said if you can hire a place, we will support you.
Despite having limited resources, school officials are sparing no effort to render the competition a success.
We really didn't have the budget to be doing this, but myself and the other founders have been very dedicated to making it work, Khadija Chaudry, the school board treasurer and teacher, said.
The school was also struggling to find an adequate facility to rent for the competition.
We promote education. And (the event) is about uniting every school in Michigan and coming together for one cause, Chaudry said.
We don't get the chance to do things together with others in our community very much. And it's a good avenue for our kids to be active in a larger Muslim community, too.
During the competition, a small bazaar will be held with people selling ethnic food, clothing, jewelry and other handmade goods.
There will also be candy and prizes for children.
Chaudry said families are welcome to attend the spelling bee just to watch, if their children are not prepared to compete this year.
Because it's the first year, some families are a little cautious and want to see how it works.The United States is home to an estimated Muslim minority of between seven to eight million.