Samir K discussing the etiquettes of eating in Islam

After hanging out at the lake for nearly two hours, the youth were driven back to the cabin to rest for 20 minutes. From 5:30 – 6:15 PM, we enjoyed dinner at the River Lodge. Dinner consisted of pasta, fried beans, salad, and wait for it…HOMEMADE BROWNIES (truly the highlight of the entire dinner). The youth walked to the Creative Arts Center to pray Asr as dark clouds began to gather in the sky.

After Asr prayer, we conducted our third discussion of the day in our mini-groups. The topic centered around establishing the balance with our time between our regular day-to-day activities and our religious duties. The youth were asked to write down actions they believed would fall under the category of “religious deeds.” As expected, many of the youth thought only of prayer, fasting the month of Ramadan, and giving money in charity. We discussed how Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, has mentioned (at the end of Surat al-Asr) that the people who will be successful when it comes to valuing/utilizing their time are the ones who strive to perform righteous actions and are patient (when dealing with

Eesa in deep thought prior to the prayer and discussion

obstacles which arise in one’s life). While prayer, fasting, and charity do indeed fall under the category of religious actions, there are many other actions we can perform which require minimal use of time but are heavy on our scale of good deeds. These actions include:

  • Providing a cup of water/milk or dates (the fruit) to a fasting person (Ramadan is coming up soon after all) so he/she can break his/her fast (at sunset).
  • Removing a rock, tree branch, or other potential obstacle from the sidewalk or road (to prevent someone later on from getting injured by the obstacle) is an act of faith.
  • Pronouncing words of dhikr (such as “Subhan Allah,” “Alhamdulillah,” La ilaha illa Allah, and “Allahu Akbar”) especially after completing the daily prayers is a religious deed which can be performed in a mere few seconds. However the reward for saying these adkhar are heavy on our scale of good deeds.
  • Smiling in the face of your fellow Muslim brother/sister is a charitable act (and may lift their spirit if they have had a rough day).
  • Saying a good word (i.e. speaking good to others) is a charitable act
  • And the list goes on.

By incorporating more and more of these smaller (less time-consuming) deeds along with our daily prayers, we will in shaa Allah be closer to living a balanced lifestyle.

Around 7 PM (a few minutes after our discussions had started), it began to rain hard outside the Arts Center. Initially we moved the youth to the cabin. After consulting with members of the Camp Tecumseh staff, a decision was made to move to a storm shelter (called Trader Jim’s) to stay in a safe location until the storm system passed through the camp. The staff at Camp Tecumseh drove our campers to Trader Jim’s and helped us get situated for the evening. While we waited for our guest speaker to arrive for our first workshop of the day, the youth enjoyed a multitude of different activities (UNO card game, reading books, taking a nap, indoor soccer [or what looked like indoor soccer], etc.). As we rode out the storm and waited for the workshop to begin, the youth prayed Maghrib and Isha prayers.

Due to the severe weather and other unforeseen issues which delayed the arrival of our guest speaker, we ended up conducting the workshop from 11 PM – 12 AM. Our guest speaker, Sr. Tahera Ahmad, explained the story of the great sahabi (companion of Prophet Muhammad, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam) named Salman al-Farisi and his long  journey (from Persia to Rome to Madinah) in the pursuit of finding the truth (about faith and religion). She incorporated different lessons into the story including the importance of being consciously aware of how we spend every moment in our life. Salman, radi Allahu anhu, traveled for weeks to reach his destination but he dealt with each difficulty/obstacle on his journey patiently. If he was willing to strive that hard (in a time when camels and horses were the norm for transportation instead of cars and planes like today) and spend a lot of time journeying to find the truth, it behooves us to not be more careful of valuing and taking full advantage of the free time we have to likewise work towards performing righteous actions.

As you can imagine once the workshop was completed, the youth were ready for bed (well most of them). By the time the workshop ended, the storm system had passed through alhamdulillah. We drove the youth back to the cabins and got ready for bed. The youth enjoyed a decent night’s sleep from 12:30 – 5:00 AM (on Sunday).

In shaa Allah we’ll mention details from Sunday’s program in the next blog post.