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

It has been an exciting few days as Muslims around the world have been celebrating one of their two annual holidays, Eid-ul-Adha. To help our young men gain a deeper appreciation for this holiday and forge lasting memories, we decided to conduct our second-ever Eid Bash. Last year we took the guys out for a nice meal at Blue Nile Restaurant (food here is totally awesome and the owners are wonderful people). We changed things up this year and decided to make this event more than just about the food. To see what sorts of exciting activities our young men enjoyed participating in, please continue reading and check out the pictures below.

Chowing down on pizza after a long day of fasting...ahhh cheeese pizza how I love thee!

Saturday corresponded to the 9th day in the lunar month known as Dhul-Hijjah. Muslims (particularly those who can’t make it to the Hajj or pilgrimage to Mecca) are encouraged to observe a voluntary fast on this date. This means a person must avoid eating food, drinking fluids including water (say what!), and increase in performing good deeds from dawn until sunset. We encouraged our young men to attempt to put this act into practice and perform the voluntary fast. Alhamdulillah we are pleased to report that almost all of the guys managed to fast the entire daytime with little trouble. Of course, after a long day of no food or drinks, your body tends to get pretty hungry. To reward our guys for their efforts, we started the evening off with a pizza party.

As the young guys happily chomped on their food, Salah took the opportunity to conduct a discussion on the importance of Eid-ul-Adha (i.e. why do Muslims celebrate this holiday). Salah engaged the youth through a series of questions to gauge how much they knew about the significance of this holiday, actions which are encouraged to be performed on the day of Eid (i.e. wearing your best clothes, attending the special Eid prayer, visiting family and friends, and so forth), and their favorite memories from past Eid celebrations.

Salah breaks down the importance of Eid-al-Adha as youth compete for chocolate (for answering questions correctly).

As the discussion came to a close, our youth turned their attention to the next part of the dinner service…dessert. Salah and his wife (Sr. Lama) were gracious enough to…wait for it…make a GIANT 8-inch cookie for each participant. Why on earth would anyone need an 8-inch cookie you may ask (and it is a worthy question to ask)? Well for mammoth ice cream sandwiches of course!

The famed giant 8-inch cookie for the ice cream sandwiches. Texas is not the only state that knows how to do things big.

Some of the brothers were a little protective about their ice cream and cookies:

Hamza LOVES food...or maybe he's trying to protect his plate from the hungry cameraman. What do you think?

Other guys struggled to figure out an effective strategy to consume so much food properly:

That ice cream sandwich looks as big as Mustafa! Don't worry young buck, you can take your time to finish your plate. We'll wait to start the activities.

Naturally after consuming such large quantities of food, a natural reaction is to want to chillax or relax; however, our adult mentors would have none of that. Since the time for Isha prayer had officially arrived (by the time we finished eating), we turned our focus (and stomachs) towards praying Isha.

Getting the youth lined-up to pray Isha; why in the world are Ali and Malik posing for a photo?

Isha provided a good bridge between the fun stuff (eating) and more fun stuff (the activities). Who says you can’t maintain your religious responsibilities and also enjoy a slice of cherry pie (i.e. halal fun stuff)? That is crazy talk. What fun stuff did the young guys enjoy over the next two hours you ask? Oh my where do we begin.

There were competitive team matches for ping-pong (first team to 15 points won the game and a prize):

Our resident ping-pong champ from Kashmir, Abish, officiates an intense game. Mujtaba does not look amused at all, not one bit. Cheer up, your turn will come soon enough!

See the little yellow ball...hit the little yellow ball. Concentrate hard Hamza; Danyal is waiting to return the ball back to you. Essa looks a bit concerned in the corner; breathe buddy!

There were two versus two games of pool (for some reason the pool sticks were taller than our youth but they managed to be troopers):

Asim and Amr take aim at the solid-colored balls in a friendly game of pool; they would emerge victorious in the first game.

Murtaza takes aim at the little black ball his team needs to knock-in to win...don't miss, don't miss, DON'T MISS!!!

Apples-to-Apples anyone?

As the games of pool and ping-pong wrapped-up, our youth turned their attention to two games: Charades and Apples-to-Apples. In Charades, youth were split into teams of two (4-5 guys per team). One member of the team would be given the title of a book, movie, or television show. Without using words (i.e. only hand and facial gestures), the individual would have to act out the words contained in the title until one member of his team correctly guessed the full name of the title. In Apples-to-Apples, youth once again were pitted into teams (four teams of two people). Each person was given five cards. The judge would then throw out a card (with a noun, verb, adjective on it) on the center of the table. From their set of cards, the youth would have to choose one card that most closely matched the statement/phrase contained in the judge’s card. The team with the closest match would win a point. The team which captured 4 points won the game (and a prize!).

The ghost pinata...seriously where did Salah find this guy?

The final event of the evening was the much-anticipated, potentially never to be duplicated again pinata activity. Usually when you attend enough Eid parties, the common gift young people are given is a bag of candy. Instead of giving our guys a bag of candy, we switched things up and gave them an empty bag (no we’re not joking). They were to then to stuff their bags with candy they wanted from the soon-to-be crushed pinata. Salah was somehow able to find a ghost-themed pinata in the aisles of Walmart which we stuffed with candy (seriously this thing felt like a brick if you touched it). Using a cricket bat (we’re not joking), youth took turns (while wearing a blind-fold) trying to break-open the pinata to release the hidden gems it contained (candy).

Sadly nobody was able to muster enough juice (energy) to un-earth the contents of the pinata while it was dangling mischievously from the ceiling. After the pinata fell to the floor, Omar was able to smash a nice-size hole in the pinata with the cricket bat. Soon after, well, this happened:

Bodies fly everywhere as the mad scramble for candy begins...oooh look a piece of candy. Too late, someone took it!

The night concluded with everyone getting gifts for their hard-earned efforts before we headed back to the masjid.

ISGL Youth Group...a place where you come with one friend and leave with many more!

A few of our guys posing with their gifts...why is Mohamed apologizing?

Jazakum Allahu Khairan to all the volunteers (Salah, Lama, Abish, El-kindi, Ihsan, and many more) who helped make this event a success! We would also like to take a moment to specially thank the Khadra family for generously opening their home to us for the Eid Bash. May Allah, azza wa jal, accept from us our efforts, forgive us for our shortcomings, and grant us the ability to conduct future successful youth activities for the community. Ameen.