Assalamu-alaikum (peace be upon you) dear reader!

The beautifully arranged tables before doors of hands, who loves the set-up?

Our apologies for the delay in posting this re-cap; our staff of volunteers (is it possible to even have a staff of volunteers?) were recovering from our East Africa Awareness Event held last Friday evening. The event was organized jointly with members of the Purdue University Muslim Student Association (MSA). Alhamdulillah by the Mercy of Allah, azza wa jal, the event was a smashing success. For those of you who were unable to join us at the Morton Community Center last Friday evening (after all, there was an exciting parade for Homecoming Weekend at Purdue going on right outside the main entrance), below is a brief re-cap of the program.

The event was supposed to start promptly at 7:30 PM. Unfortunately, due to a lengthy parade for Homecoming Weekend at Purdue, our start time had to be delayed a few minutes. As we allowed guests to circle the block looking for any open space to park their vehicle, our early arrivals took a few moments to admire posters members of the ISGL Youth Group spent 3 weeks working on. The posters provided information about countries (Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia) whose civilians are suffering from the ongoing drought and famine impacting East Africa. Youth had to conduct research on topics including – common types of food eaten, common dress attire, languages spoken, religious demographics, brief history of how the religion of Islam arrived at the particular county being studied, and how the ongoing drought was impacting the local civilians.

Young men discussing which poster presentation looks better. They all did a great job ma shaa Allah.

A parent takes a moment to admire one of the posters made by our youth

As we wait for the program to get started, our guys provided a few moments of light humor

As the room started to fill with guests, the event kicked-off with a short introduction reminding our guests why we had gathered together on a Friday evening in late October. As many of you may be aware, currently in parts of East Africa, civilians are facing the repercussions of the worst drought to impact the region in 60 years. Families have left their homes seeking assistance at humanitarian camps set-up throughout Kenya and Ethiopia. Food and water are scarce; children are dying from severe malnourishment.

It is a duty and responsibility of every Muslim that when we hear about a fellow human being who is suffering from the lack of basic resources, we extend out a hand and try to help this individual. Our newest mentor, Br. Ihsan, reminded our audience of this fact by reciting verses from Surah Ma’oon (Chapter 107 in the Qur’an). The verses provided a powerful reminder that regardless of our status or level of wealth, we must make a concerted effort to be involved with and show concern for the state of affairs of other human beings (including orphans, the poor, the needy, the elderly, the young, etc.).

Asim educates the audience about Kenya.

After the recitation was complete, Br. Fahad Shahab (current President of the Purdue Muslim Student Association), strode on stage and delivered a short, beautiful welcome to our audience. Fahad’s welcome was followed by the first of our two main events for the evening – on-stage presentations by our youth. Youth took turns presenting all of the information they had researched and organized on their posters. Audience members (particularly the parents) seemed to really enjoy the effort and preparation by the young men for their presentations. Congratulations to all of our youth who did a phenomenal job on their posters and poster presentations!

As the youth wrapped up their presentations, dinner began rolling in for our guests. As guests began to enjoy their food, Salah took a moment to remind everyone about the great blessing of good food and refreshing bottles of water provided to each person. These are basic blessings we too often take for granted every day. Too often we complain that we don’t like a certain type of food or we prefer to drink a certain type of beverage (ex. “water has no flavor”). Yet every single day, around the world, there are human beings who struggle just to find enough food and water to sustain their basic needs. These individuals may be our next door neighbors, a member of our congregation, or a stranger living thousands of miles away from us in a different country. We should therefore be continuously grateful to our Creator for every single meal He, subhanahu wa ta’ala, provides for us.

Imam Muhammad breaking down the importance of helping our fellow human beings in need...gotta love the usage of the iPad ma shaa Allah!

The themes of having concern for our fellow human beings in need, being grateful for the blessings bestowed upon us, and the need to actively support those less fortunate were tied together beautifully by our guest speaker for the evening: Imam Muhammad Ndiaye. Imam Muhammad is a dynamic speaker who is capable of taking verses from the Qur’an and explaining them in a manner which one can truly appreciate the power and message contained in these verses. We were really fortunate to have him visit our community to provide an amazing reminder of the attitude Muslims must have for all members of society who are facing hardship. He reminded us that often when we are called upon to donate to support a cause, we reach into our wallet, sift through the different bills, and try to locate the smallest bill (usually one dollar) to drop in the donation box. Though no amount given in charity should be belittled, if we are capable of giving more, we should. There should be no fear for the loss of wealth because wealth is a trust and blessing provided to us by our Creator.

Upon the completion of Imam Muhammad’s powerful reminder, a short video prepared by Islamic Relief was played. Islamic Relief is a recognized (by the U.S. government) charitable organization currently on the ground in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, providing medical  support and basic supplies for civilians in need. Please watch the video below to find more information about what exactly is going on in East Africa and what Islamic Relief is doing to make a positive impact:

After the audience viewed the moving video, we turned the floor over to our guests to help us out with a project. Our goal for the evening was to raise $2000 to donate to Islamic Relief’s efforts in East Africa. You may be asking yourself, why did they choose a goal of $2000? $2000 is enough money to provide packets of food and water to support a family of 8 members for one year in East Africa. The Muslim community in Lafayette and West Lafayette in the past has demonstrated tremendous generosity in supporting worthy causes. This event was no different. Though our goal was $2000; in a short 5-minute fundraiser, we were able to, alhamdulillah, raise over $5000 to support the civilians of East Africa! Truly this is a great blessing from Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala!

As the event concluded and volunteers started to clean-up the hall, we reflected upon how awesome this evening truly was. The evening showed a level of unity within the community as it involved members of the youth, Purdue students, parents, adults, brothers, and sisters. Our parents and student volunteers were critical in preparing dishes for dinner and helping with the set-up and clean-up of the rooms in Morton Community Center. The MSA served as a great partner in helping to organize and advertise the event. We are truly grateful to everyone who contributed time, effort, and money to support this event.

One final note as we conclude this (long) post; the Purdue Muslim Student Association has been kind enough to continue raising awareness about the ongoing humanitarian crisis in East Africa during their special week-long program entitled “Islamic Awareness Week,” during the week of October 24-28. They are displaying the posters our youth made in a special tent at the center of campus (on Memorial Mall) for the benefit of the campus community. A picture of the youth posters on display can be found below:

Youth posters on display for the Purdue campus community at the Muslim Student Association tent for Islamic Awareness Week

The poster on Ethiopia was designed by Danyal and Ali. The poster on Somalia was created by Mohamed Amine.