Mecca Responds (Teens) – Friday, March 20, 2015

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Assalamu-alaikum (peace be upon you) readers,

Two weeks ago our IYG teens took part in an awesome cooking lesson at the Purdue Co-Rec; this lesson was followed by a discussion on Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings be upon him), response after receiving the first verses of revelation of the Qur’an. Tonight (over a delicious snack of gelato and hot cocoa) we continued our seerah discussion by looking at how the residents of Mecca responded to Prophet Muhammad and the early followers of Islam. Simply put, many of the Meccan residents were a tad bit unhappy. The stronger leaders voiced their displeasure openly by harassing and verbally abusing the Muslims. Other leaders even resorted to physically abusing the Muslims who were in a weak position in their society. The experience of the early Muslims in Mecca provided a good teaching lesson for our teens; the issue of Islamophobia has become more prevalent in the United States. Our Muslim youth often face negative experiences in their schools (being called offensive names, having to respond to incorrect stereotypes, etc. by their classmates because of their lack of understanding about Islam and Muslims) and struggle to find ways to respectfully respond to such experiences. Learning that Prophet Muhammad and his followers experienced Islamophobia from the residents of Mecca provides a source of comfort for our teens (knowing that they are not the first ones to go through such a difficult experience). However, the seerah also provides valuable lessons on how we can respond to such criticism and negativity in a positive manner. These lessons will be the topic of a future discussion in shaa Allah (God-willing).

Gelato and hot cocoa - perfect snacks for a seerah discussion!

Gelato and hot cocoa – perfect snacks for a seerah discussion!

Revelation & Mediterranean Cooking Demo (Teens) – Friday, March 6, 2015

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Assalamu-alaikum (peace be upon you) IYGers,

One cooking lesson per night is not enough, right? After our mini-men completed their Rice Krispy bake-off, our teens traveled to the Purdue Co-Rec Demo Kitchen to test their hand at preparing a delicious four-course Mediterranean-themed dinner. Under the careful supervision of the Co-Rec staff, our teens learned important techniques including proper knife handling, quick ways to chop herbs, checking if one’s fish is at proper temperature for consumption, and preparing a fruity couscous (yes you read that correctly). Working together our young men learned how to prepare hummus from scratch, tilapia with chopped vegetables, couscous, peach-cream dessert, and a delicious non-alcoholic fruit sangria to drink. After the cooking lesson was done, our youth had a chance to dig in and enjoy what their clever hands had prepared. We concluded the evening by continuing our seerah discussion. For this event, we focused on the response of Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam (peace an blessings be upon him), after receiving the first verses of revelation of the Qur’an. One of the lessons learned was the importance of building and maintaining relationships with family and friends (who can support you during both good times and times of difficulty). A few snapshots from Friday night’s event can be found below:

Hmmm...I wonder what we'll be doing tonight?

Hmmm…I wonder what we’ll be doing tonight?

Cutting basil of course!

Cutting basil of course!

Mohamed carefully dices an onion as Omar observes with fear...he"ll be okay Omar.

Mohamed carefully dices an onion as Omar observes with fear…he”ll be okay Omar.

Talal gets to work on our apricot dessert...honey is the key ingredient here.

Talal gets to work on our peach dessert…honey is the key ingredient here.

Now comes the good part...cream + honey + peach = YUMMY!

Now comes the good part…cream + honey + peach = YUMMY!

Time to eat! Fruit sangria...delicious!

Time to eat! Fruit sangria…delicious!

Hummus anyone?

Hummus anyone?

Tilapia and couscous...dinner can now begin!

Tilapia and couscous…dinner can now begin!

Rice Krispy Kooks (Mini-men) – Friday, March 6, 2015

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Assalamu-alaikum (peace be upon you) readers,

Friday night, it was time for our mini-men to take their turn in the IYG kitchen to put their culinary skills to the test (and prove the tweenz weren’t the only skilled chefs present in the youth group). Young children love sugar in many different forms – pure chocolate, candy, sugary cereals, and…DESSERTS! Can there be a more mini-men friendly dessert to make at home other than Rice Krispy treats? We think not! After splitting our youngsters into two groups, our mini-men raced against the clock (and one another) to prepare their very own homemade Rice Krispy treats. A light dusting of butter, a cupful of Rice Krispy cereal, and a whole lot of marshmellow creme later…we had ourselves one delicious snack. I know, I know…you don’t believe us. Well as they say, the proof is in the pictures (check out our young men in action below!):

Anis gets things started melting butter in our sauce pan...ooo Ahmed has a question for us!

Anis gets things started melting butter in our sauce pan…ooo Ahmed has a question for us!

Ahmed begins melting down our marshmallow creme...

Ahmed begins melting down our marshmallow creme…

Meanwhile Yazan and Mohamed take a moment to smile for our camera...say cheese!

Meanwhile Yazan and Mohamed take a moment to smile for our camera…say cheese!

Our baked treats hit the fridge to cool down...

Our baked treats hit the fridge to cool down…

No cooking lesson is complete without a little fun and games!

No cooking lesson is complete without a little fun and games!

The final product...does that not look professionally delicious?

The final product…does that not look professionally delicious?

Breakfast All Day (Tweenz) – Friday, February 27, 2015

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Assalamu-alaikum (peace be upon you) tweenz, parents, and readers across the globe,

The weather outside was still quite un-friendly tonight. What type of food pairs well with cold weather? BREAKFAST (at least heat is generated from the stove while you cook so it keeps you warm)!!! Breakfast items are so unique compared to other meals (here’s looking at your dinner) because they can be eaten at any time of the day and are typically simple to prepare. Tonight our tweenz had the chance to put on their chef hats and aprons on and learn the time-honored tradition of making simple breakfast dishes sure to please any child (or adult). Under the careful supervision of our IYG chef-tors (“chef + mentor = chef-tor”, get it?!), our youth learned how to prepare their very own scrambled eggs with cheese paired with decadent, fluffy pancakes (kufi tip to Food Network for their helpful cooking tips). Breakfast is a very important meal to energize our youth early in the morning to help them through their school day. Most days, we rely on mom and dad to prepare breakfast for us. However, this fun cooking activity taught our youth simple dishes they can prepare at home on their own (for those days in college when mom and dad may not be there to make breakfast) AND dishes they can make for their families (to give mom and dad a break from the kitchen by serving a simple treat). As captured in the pictures below, our youth did a phenomenal job (after dealing with a couple early exploding eggs…) preparing their breakfast meals:

Step 1 - Cleanse thy hands! Bacteria and food don't play well together in our stomach.

Step 1 – Cleanse thy hands! Bacteria and food don’t play well together in our stomach.

Muhammad and Abdallah start mixing eggs, sour cream, and a splash of water together to make their scrambled eggs...

Muhammad and Abdallah start mixing eggs, sour cream, and a splash of water together to make their scrambled eggs…

Basim's eggs are whipped and ready to be scrambled!

Basim’s eggs are whipped and ready to be scrambled!

Mix, mix rapido Basim! Else your eggs will become an omelet.

Mix, mix rapido Basim! Else your eggs will become an omelet.

Now onto pancakes! Mmm fluffy pancakes...Muhammad attempts to flip his pancake with his eyes closed (this can't be a good idea or can it?)

Now onto pancakes! Mmm fluffy pancakes…Muhammad attempts to flip his pancake with his eyes closed (this can’t be a good idea or can it?).

One toasted breakfast muffin later and  this young lad is ready to chow down...

One toasted breakfast muffin later and this young lad is ready to chow down…

Mmmmm...nothing beats breakfast all day! If you look closely, there is a pan-taco (pancake taco) present on someone's plate...we"ll let you figure out this mystery.

Mmmmm…nothing beats breakfast all day! If you look closely, there is a pan-taco (pancake taco) present on someone’s plate…we”ll let you figure out this mystery.

Prophet’s Childhood (Teens) – Friday, February 20, 2015

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Assalamu-alaikum (peace be upon you) fellow readers,

Friday night marked the launch of our latest IYG program catered to meet the needs and address challenges faced by our teenagers. Tonight we ushered our youth into Vienna Cafe, ordered delicious hot chocolate to warm our cold fingers and toes, and dove into a difficult topic: temptation – it is all around us. The entertainment industry encourages us often to give in to such temptations and forget about the potential consequences that may occur. The reality is we all face temptations and the desire to give in to what our hearts desire, even if it is not good for us; as young Muslims, it is often very hard to resist giving into these temptations. Even Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam (may the peace and blessings of God be upon him), faced such issues as a young man (prior to prophethood). As recorded in a famous narration by Ibn Atheer:

Once I told my fellow-shepherd to take care of my sheep when we were in the upper part of Mecca. I wanted to go down to Mecca and entertain myself as the young men did. I went down to the first house of Mecca where I heard music. I entered and asked: ‘What is this?’ Someone answered: ‘It is a wedding party.’ I sat down and listened but soon went into deep sleep. I was awakened by the heat of the sun. I went back to my fellow-shepherd and told him of what had happened to me. I have never tried it again.” (The Sealed Nectar, Shaykh Safiur Rahman al-Mubarakpuri)

The first lesson for our youth – you are not alone in the challenge of battling against the various temptations surrounding us (drugs, relationships, etc.); in fact each one of us is going through this struggle. The second lesson – Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, is protecting us and our well-being when He encourages us to stay away from getting involved with certain actions/temptations. Though we sometimes struggle to understand the wisdom behind why we are encouraged to stay away from certain actions, the reality is that Allah, our Creator, knows us, His creation, better than even we know ourselves. When we put our trust in Allah and struggle to live our life in a manner that pleases Him (even though it may not be easy!), goodness will find us.

Crazy Catapults (Tweenz) – Friday, February 13, 2015

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Assalamu-alaikum (peace be upon you) youth, parents, and mentors,

Catapults. Creativity. Craziness. Cuckoo – what our youth thought our mentors were after being told they would be making catapults on Friday evening. This (crazy) activity idea however provided a great teaching lesson for our young men regarding important points to keep in mind to reach our life goals – we must set goals to aim for, have a plan to achieve each goal, and then put in the hard work to reach our goals. The goal tonight – construct a catapult from a few simple items commonly found around the house (such as tape, Popsicle sticks, and paper). The plan – our youth were given specific, step-by-step, DETAILED directions (turn-by-turn navigation if you will) by IYG’s clever master designer (Mr. Issa) on how to build their catapults. The result – as some youth quickly found out, if you don’t follow the plan, you won’t reach your goal (and in this case, there were some un-catapult looking catapults that were built). However, several of our youth (here’s looking at you Muhammad, Elyas, Ahmed, and company) did a superb job with the directions, and in the end, their catapults were gleefully launching paper balls around the ISGL library as their fellow IYGers took cover under the tables. Maybe our mentors aren’t so cuckoo after all! In shaa Allah we’ll try to post a few pictures from this event in the coming days. Until next time…

Yeah...so our catapults didn't look quite this fancy.

Yeah…so our catapults didn’t look quite this fancy.

Go Go Goooaaalll!!! (Mini-men) – Friday, February 6, 2015

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Assalamu-alaikum (peace be upon you) our fellow readers,

Friday night is IYG night and tonight marked the re-launch of our mini-men program! After a quick re-introduction, our mini-men put their soccer skills into practice in a fun game of Go Go Goooaaalll!!! Playing in teams of two people, our youth had the challenging task of trying to maneuver around our giant mentors to score a goal. As they learned after a little practice, the key to scoring goals was working together as a team. Pass, pass, pass and then – SCORE!!!

Yazan tosses the ball to his teammate Mohamed...let's get this game started!

Yazan tosses the ball to his teammate Mohamed…let’s get this game started!

After a great save by Yazan, Mohamed goes on a quick counterstrike.

After a great save by Yazan, Mohamed goes on a quick counterstrike.

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