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

Yesterday evening we had an awesome event with Mufti Hussain Kamani, imam of the Islamic Center of Chicago. For those unfamiliar with Mufti Kamani, he is a dynamic young scholar who also knows…Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Yes you read correctly; Mufti Kamani is a shaykh you don’t want to mess with. At the age of 10, he completed memorization of the entire Qur’an and continued his journey of Islamic knowledge at Darul Uloom Bury (in the United Kingdom) for six years. Mufti Kamani is not just a hard-working Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu fighter (he’s been doing this for two years!), shaykh, youth counselor, and da’ee; he also has a strong business acumen having started his own clothing design company – Kamani Online (http://www.kamanionline.com/)

Mufti Kamani busts out a lesson on peer pressure and dealing with temptation. All eyes are on the shaykh as he speaks. Wait, where did the pink balloon come from...Fahad!?!

Our event on Saturday began with a beautiful reminder from our guest speaker regarding dealing with peer pressure and temptation. Negative peer pressure, whether it be shaytan encouraging us to commit a sin in private or our friends/classmates/teammates encouraging us in public (take a puff of the joint, nobody is around man!), can lead to problems down the road. We know we shouldn’t be engaging in this action but the temptation is so strong. If a person gets away with making a mistake once, one often becomes bolder; you gain confidence (i.e. think nobody can catch you, you’re untouchable). One’s new found confidence may lead to trying more dangerous or risky activities. As one embarks down this road, thinking that you’ll never get caught, eventually you get exposed. This can lead one to pay serious consequences for one’s actions (i.e jail, court fees, loss of support from family members, friends, etc.).

Basically we are all going in one of two directions in life – either we’re on the route of good or on the route of evil/mistakes/sins. Ten years down the road, based on the actions you commit today, you will either be grateful for the decisions you make now (to take control of your life and not let others negatively influence your decision-making/actions) or you’ll be living in a state of regret. Mufti Kamani ended his beautiful talk by reminding our youth that the keys to navigating through the obstacles of temptation and peer pressure are:

1.) Surrounding yourself with good people

2.) Using your head – think before you act because the consequences can be devastating if the wrong choice is made

After praying Maghrib prayer in the main prayer hall, our youth returned back to the multipurpose room of the ISGL for a potentially life-saving lesson of self-defense. Sadly most of our youth were expecting to get transformed into Jackie Chen…in one hour. The pictures below will help lead you through our Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu self-defense session with Mufti Kamani:

Discipline is needed for any successful martial artist - gentleman circle up! Amr and Hamzeh think something is funny...

Danyal and Amine were too busy posing for the camera to pay attention to directions.

Mufti Kamani with a few basic rules before we start. Fahad it's okay we have enough time; stop checking your watch!

Before we could begin Jiu-Jitsu, we had to do one thing...STRETCH! Mufti Kamani leads our young men through a series of 10 push-ups to begin.

Squats - bend those knees young men! Some guys were going at warped speed so our camera couldn't keep up.

Crunches - the key is to make sure you don't put your hands behind your neck. Feel the burn! From regular crunches, we moved to...

...one leg crunches. Now is a nice time to scratch your ear if you have an itch.

Chill time - ahhhh my abs hurt so bad!!!

We've heard of raise the roof but raise a leg...that is a new one!

Time to loosen our neck muscles - wait, why is everyone looking to the right?

The "Cat Stretch" - do you feel your neck purring yet, Sheriff?

After getting warmed up and stretched out, Mufti Kamani began with our self-defense lesson. First lesson – how to block a punch.

Mufti Kamani demonstrates the proper technique to throw a punch...fists next to your cheeks, dip your elbows, drop your leg back, and drive through with your dominant hand.

How do you block a punch? Use the "comb move." No, seriously you comb your hair as the dude attacks you...

...and then you close the space. In this position your opponent can't kick or punch you. You have now successfully defended yourself from being punched or kicked.

Our youth had the opportunity to practice blocking punches under the watchful eyes of Mufti Kamani and the mentors. We’re happy to say there were no black eyes or bloody noses to report.

Blocking a punch seems easy enough but what if someone has you in a headlock?

Br. Zeyad puts Mufti Kamani in a headlock - in the background Fahad nervously watches, hoping the shyakh doesn't get hurt.

The headlock is reversed. Our guest instructor slips his neck through a gap, grabs Br. Zeyad's wrist, and twists it upwards. Talk about a pressure point.

After practicing how to break out of a headlock, our youth were treated to a cool lesson (which they were not allowed to practice). The next lesson…the hip toss. Starting from the headlock position Mufti Kamani swiftly took down Br. Zeyad in a submission move in Jiu-Jitsu:

This image looks kinda familiar. Br. Zeyad appears to have the upper hand for now...

...until our guest instructor takes him to the ground.

The submission position...now we officially feel bad for Br. Zeyad. Is it just us or is Br. Zeyad's face turning red; where did our oxygen tank go?

For kicks and giggles, Mufti Kamani invited our youth mentors to volunteer as a participant in one final lesson. Two wise words for the mentors: walk away.

This is not the way you're supposed to honor your guests Haroon. The shaykh looks like he's in trouble until...

...he flips our mentor upside down - pain never felt so good!

One final lesson from our guest speaker - if you focus your mind, you can do anything in life.

You can't conclude a Jiu-Jitsu lesson without a question-and-answer session.

Jazakum Allahu Khairan to Mufti Kamani, Br, Zeyad, and Br. Farhan for taking time out of their busy schedules to join us and benefit our community with their knowledge and unique skills! May Allah, azza wa jal, reward our guests for their efforts and record this action on their scale of good deeds. Ameen.

Remember young men, please don’t practice your skills at home with your siblings!

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