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

Sadly, we have come to the end of yet another ISGL Youth Group program. Saturday evening marked the final activity for our 2012 Halalapalooza Program. It is hard to believe that six weeks ago, we kicked-off our program with a thrilling game of soccer. Yesterday night, we concluded our summer program with a video game tournament (who knew a game entitled “Fruit Ninja” could be so much fun?) and itikha’f at the ISGL. After an hour and half of gaming action, our youth enjoyed a family-style meal before praying Maghrib prayer.

Between Maghrib and Isha prayers, our young men delivered short reminders encouraging one another to take advantage of the month of Ramadan. The reminders included discussions about the purpose of Ramadan (i.e. the primary and secondary benefits of fasting), a favorite memory our youth had from a previous Ramadan, and advice on taking full advantage of this blessed month. After Isha prayer, our mentors took over and reminded our youth that Ramadan is indeed a tremendous gift provided to us by Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala. When we receive a gift (whether it be from a family member, friend, teacher, etc.), we typically cherish it and thank the person who gave us the gift. Yet too often we fail to acknowledge the enormous blessings available in Ramadan and thus fail to take advantage of this amazing month (by increasing in our prayers, being more charitable with our time and money, and helping our family in preparing a meal for iftar).

We decided to try to put into practice tahajjud (or late night, supererogatory) prayers after our discussion on Ramadan. After taking a short break, our youth gathered together to recite Surat-al-Buruj. Within this surah is a story about a boy and a king. The boy, even at a young age, stood firm in his belief in Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, even in the face of many trials put forth by this king. The boy’s conviction in his faith served as an encouragement for others in his community to realize that indeed Allah, azza wa jal, (NOT the king) was their true Lord. After our story time, our young men enjoyed a late-night snack and a pillow fight (to release any leftover energy) before getting some rest before Fajr prayer.

Much took place in the comfy confines of the ISGL last night. The pictures below will hopefully shed light on our final activity of the summer.

Ali gets things started with a friendly game of “Fruit Ninja.” You may want to step back a little bit…

Our young men eagerly stand in line in anticipation of their turn.

Danyal takes his turn smashing fruit with his ninja-tastic skills.

Our empty dinner table awaits our young guests. Where is everyone?

DINNER TIME!!! Who wants lemonade…apparently everyone.

How about a little ice cream for dessert?

Murtaza begins our youth discussion on Ramadan.

Ahmed continues the show with his advice on how to take advantage of this Ramadan.

After Isha prayer and our mentor-led talk on “Ramadan Warriors,” our young men decided to perform tahajjud prayer together.

Hamza is ready for a little Qur’an session with Surat-al-Buruj!

Ali reads the English translation of the verses we just recited.

Anyone hungry for a Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwich for a midnight snack?

What better way to end the evening (before sleeping of course) then with a pillow fight!