Thank You Letter from Food Finders Food Bank

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Our youth did a phenomenal job collecting 771 pounds of food for the local food pantry in Lafayette as part of the July 2011 Halalapalooza Program. The donated food will no doubt prove helpful to local families and community members in need. As a sign of appreciation, Food Finders sent a nice thank you letter which is displayed below. Congratulations to our youth once again for their amazing teamwork in helping out our local community:

Thank you letter from Food Finders Food Bank


Big Sisters/Little Sisters & ISGL Youth Group Youth Banquet Re-cap

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It has been several weeks since we last had a chance to post a new entry in the ISGL Youth Group blog. With the start and now closing days of the blessed month of Ramadan, our youth and volunteers have been hunkered down in “Ibadah Mode.” We did want to provide a re-cap of an awesome event which took place on Friday, August 12, 2011 (12th day of Ramadan).  This event was the first-ever joint youth banquet, iftar, and awards ceremony between the Big Sisters/Little Sisters Program (our sisters youth group) and the ISGL Youth Group (the brothers youth group).

Our volunteers (we were blessed to have the support of so many outstanding brothers and sisters, many who devoted 6 hours in set-up, decorations, food prep, and clean-up) did a remarkable job getting 4 rooms set-up for the night’s festivities. These four rooms were:

Sr. Meganh instructs the young lads on the art of homemade pudding...why must the adults always miss out on all of the fun?

The Children’s Activity Room. Some of our younger guests struggled to make it through the 3-hour marathon of speeches, food fight (just kidding, we meant iftar/dinner), and presentations. The sisters came up with the brilliant idea of having a small, private area where these youngins’ could get together and have an enjoyable night as well. Activities which the youth partook in included making homemade pudding AND bracelets (not sure if the young guys were into this fashion statement but you’ll have to poll them to find out)!

I must say this necklace is worth more than any piece of jewelry at the local jewelry store. Where else can you find such skilled craftsmanship and creativity?

Youth Poster Exhibit Room. This room contained different posters members of both youth groups created

The throng of community members advance slowly clockwise around the poster exhibit room. Where did all the fathers go?

during July. The posters depicted information about a specific country each individual/team of youth researched during the Muslims Around the World or M.A.P. Project. Each poster was uniquely crafted with pictures, graphs, and short blurbs of information regarding population demographics, common foods, sports played by the youth, how Islam entered the country, and basic traditions relating to how holidays (such as Eid-ul-Fitr and Eid-ul-Adha) are celebrated by the Muslims in each respective country. Once again, it must be stated that our youth did a phenomenal job designing and explaining their posters to community members.

Dad is proud of his daughter's poster!

Food Prep Room. There were numerous brothers and sisters who worked behind the scenes at the banquet to make sure each guest was able to enjoy an amazing evening. Many of these brothers and sisters were actively engaged 1-2 hours before the banquet started completing tasks such as warming trays of food, preparing small serving cups of yogurt and chutney, preparing mini-plates of dates and sweets, pouring soda into drink pitchers, and most importantly, making plates of food for the iftar.

Teamwork between volunteers working in the food prep room. I think we're going to need more than just one plate of food Salah.

More teamwork in the food prep room/kitchen. Hey Abish, be careful where you toss that tray!

The heroes of food service led by their unquestioned leader, Br Amjad.

The empty banquet hall before the doors opened. Those glass centerpieces look pretty, no?


Main banquet hall. The main festivities took place in this room. The sisters did an amazing job putting together beautiful decorations for the stage, tables, and room entrance which many of our guests positively commented about. A special tip of the kufi to Br. Adil for his excellent craftsmanship in putting together the glass centerpieces which were on each table.

Close-up shot of the table centerpiece

In case you were not able to attend the banquet, we’ll quickly describe the night’s program to get you up to speed.

Just in case you were wondering what the plan was for tonight...check out the program for more info.

The program began with a beautiful  recitation of Surah Ibrahim, Verses 35-41 by Br. Ihsan. These verses convey the du’aa (supplication) of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham), alayhis sallam, which he made for his offspring.

After the recitation was completed, there were presentations by different members of both youth groups. Sr. Silai and Br. Salah took turns to explain the purpose behind each youth organization (Big Sisters/Little Sisters Program [for the sisters] and ISGL Youth Group [for the brothers]).

Salah turns in his serving apron for a microphone. If you didn't know about the ISGL Youth Group before, Salah made sure you did after his presentation was complete.

Adil took over and explained the first-ever youth camp (at Camp Tecumseh) which was conducted in June for the youth in our community. Sr. Meganh eloquently explained the program and activities which were conducted during the summer for the Big Sisters/Little Sisters Program. Her presentation was followed-up by Br. Haroon’s photo presentation of the ISGL Youth Group July 2011 Halalapalooza Program.

Our emcee, Adil, reppin' the West Side! This dude provided many funny moments to keep our crowd engaged throughout the night.

Eyes intently gaze upward to the big projection screen on stage...who will speak next they wonder?

Amr and Nabeel enjoy a good chuckle during one of the presentations

Mujtaba shares a joke with Essa and Murtaza

Apparently one of the speakers said something that made Adil giggle

After the adults finished talking, the youth took over and shared some touching stories regarding how they have personally benefited from youth programs in the community.  Heya Kaakeh and Hafsa Farooq (both representing the sisters) & Mujtaba Siddiqui and Tassawar Farooq (representing the brothers) each delivered a wonderful, concise talk on their experiences with the youth programs.

Mujtaba reflects about his personal memories of past youth activities

Tassawar tries to entertain the crowd with a story from his youth group experiences

Obviously at this stage, our guests were on information overload. It was finally time for the fast to be broken, Maghrib prayer to be prayed, and iftar to be enjoyed. Our volunteers did a great job coordinating these different activities in a timely fashion. We hope you enjoy the pictures from the youth banquet iftar below:

Plates of dates and sweets wait to be eaten...but they look too good to be eaten

Br. Amir rolls out the water bottles for guests to quench their thirst after a long day of fasting

Hungry guests enjoy good food and, more importantly, great companionship

Uncles enjoying tandoori chicken, veggies, rice, and naan

Moms enjoying the iftar delicacies

When food hits the table, the smiles get bigger and bigger

The little guy on the right needed a little help with his food

Elder youth statesmen enjoy a meal together...that is a lot of chutney for one table

Look, Salah is pulling double duty tonight! Who says leaders can't roll up their sleeves and pitch-in to help out?

Amr is wondering "why is this dude taking my photo from up there?"

Mohamed gives the food one thumb-up. On our scale that means the food was excellent.

Our emcee, Adil, works the crowd with his mad hosting skills. Sadly no food for poor Adil tonight.

Ahhhh peace finally...even our volunteers had an opportunity to enjoy the tasty food for iftar.

After the food fest ended, we finally presented our well-deserving youth their awards for participating in the summer programs.

Our male youth receiving their well-deserved awards after a month of intense competition for ajr.

Our female youth proudly display their hard-earned awards to the camera.

We’ll leave you with one final sweet image. Our youth sisters and their families graciously prepared small bags of sweets as gifts for the guests. These sweets represented the different countries the sisters researched for their poster presentations over the summer. We hope you enjoy (at least visually because all the sweets physically ran out) the nice picture of the gifts below:

Our young sisters made these sweet desserts as gifts for our guests...don't worry, the picture is even making me hungry

Food Drive Results

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Assalamu-alaikum readers,

After 3 LONG weeks of collecting non-perishable food items (the Mac-and-Cheese battle in Islamic Jeopardy, the Walmart Shopping Spree, and asking community members to donate items), the results are in…well sort of. We won’t reveal which team won the food drive competition; you’ll have to join us for the Youth Banquet, Iftar, and Awards Ceremony on Friday, August 12 to find those details. We will reveal how much food was raised by order (i.e. first-place, second-place, etc.).

Ma shaa Allah collectively the youth were able to raise just under 800 pounds of food and liquid non-perishables for the local food bank in Lafayette. Here are the results:

First-place team: 188.6 pounds

Second-place team: 158.4 pounds

Third-place team: 144.2 pounds

Fourth-place team: 125.8 pounds

Fifth-place team: 105.4 pounds

Sixth-place team: 47.2 pounds

Seventh-place team: 24.8 pounds

A well-deserved round of pats on the back for all the youth and community members who helped make this food drive a success. We ask Allah, subhanahu wa ta’ala, to accept from us our good deeds and forgive  us for our mistakes. Ameen.

M.A.P. Poster Presentation Pictures

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Over the past 3 weeks, our youth have been working in teams of 2 to study the lifestyles of Muslims all across the world. From researching the sports youth like to play to popular cultural dishes to different clothing styles to how Islam spread to a given country, our youth have expanded their understanding of the beauty which exists in different Muslim communities around the world. During the past 3 weeks, youth had to conduct basic research on how Muslims live across different societies, conduct an interview with a local community member who emigrated from or is studying abroad from the particular country the youth were studying, and the youth had to design a poster to present on Friday, August 29 (after the burrito competition).

These posters will be on display and youth will present what they learned at the Youth Banquet, Iftar, and Awards Ceremony on Friday, August 12 starting at 6:50 PM in shaa Allah.

Below are pictures capturing the different groups presenting their posters last Friday night:

"United States of America" by Mohamed and Nabeel

"Libya" by Amr, Muhammad, and Khalifah

"Malaysia" by Amine and Murtaza

"Jordan" by Essa and Mujtaba

"Syria" by Ali and Tassawar

"Egypt" by Amir and Omar

"Palestine" by Sheriff and Yacoub

Congratulations to all of our youth for successfully completing this challenging project!

Homemade Burrito Night – Friday, July 29, 2011

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Assalamu-alaikum readers,

Rice, salsa, guacamole, sour cream, and cheese...YUMMY!

Our second-to-last Halalapalooza 2011 event occurred yesterday night. We started a cooking tradition last July where each semester we try to do one event centered around making a cultural dish common to a particular ethnicity or country. Around 7 PM in the masjid, we were supposed to begin the process of making homemade burritos. Unfortunately, several youth showed up with half-finished poster boards and looks of confusion on their faces. The poster boards were for the M.A.P. (Muslims Around the World Project) Poster Presentations later that evening. As is the case with many humans, many of the youngsters had waited until the last possible second (literally) to begin (or in some cases end) making their posters. The volunteers decided to show a little mercy towards the guys and give them 30 minutes to finish their projects.

Around 7:30 PM, youth marched downstairs to the masjid kitchens to begin working on two burrito dishes – one for themselves and one to present with their teammate to a panel of 3 judges (we shall henceforth refer to this as the “Team Burrito”). The first ten minutes were spent designing the perfect, most taste-e-licious burrito mankind has ever seen. After receiving approval by the volunteers, the youth were allowed to craft their dishes using a tortilla and the following ingredients:

  • Pinto beans

    Flour tortillas

  • Lettuce
  • Tomato
  • Onion
  • Rice
  • Cheese
  • Mild or medium salsa
  • Guacamole
  • AND sour cream

After 45 minutes of eating and preparing their team burrito, the youth were ready to be judged by our esteemed panel of judges (Ali Abdel-Latif, Sultan Ahmed, and Haroon).  Below you can see what different teams were able to create with their creative minds:

"The Lucky Burrito" by Amine and Murtaza

"The Angry Burrito" by Mohamed and Nabeel

"The Burrito That Could Not Be Named" by Essa and Mujtaba


The No Name Burrito_this poor guy somehow lost his way and never quite made it to the judges' stomach

A whatcha doin'? Check out the massive burrito in the bottom left corner. It took 2 tortilla pieces to fit everything


Youth Lunch Sale – Friday, July 29, 2011

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Yesterday afternoon, our youth held our once-a-semester youth lunch sale after jumm’ah prayer. The youth worked with their families to create unique lunch dishes and dessert items. Menu items included:

  • Tassawar’s Patriotic Cupcakes (AND samosas which were not so patriotic)
  • Amr’s Fruit Salad
  • Murtaza’s Pasta & Chicken Cubes
  • Mujtaba’s chicken burrito wrap
  • Omar & Sheriff’s chicken burrito wrap (not to be confused with the one above)
  • Yacoub’s Creamery (ice cream sandwiches)
  • And much more

Tassawar making a smooth appeal to a customer - "you know you want to buy a cupcake!"

Right about now you are probably thinking to yourself – “man these guys can COOK!” Rest assured that most of these items were prepared with quite a bit of parental support.

Yacoub tries to convince a brother to buy some ice cream; Amr sneaks in and sells a cup of fruit

Jazakum Allahu Khairan to all community members who helped support the youth lunch sale. Alhamdulillah we raised a decent quantity of money to support future youth group activities.

Food Drive Shopping Spree Re-cap – Thursday, July 28, 2011

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Searching high and low, aisle after magnificent aisle, for the best deals

Last night, we tried a new wrinkle in the traditional way a food drive is conducted. Normally when an organization wants to collect food for a specific food bank or organization, boxes are placed in a specified location, flyers are posted, and announcements are made encouraging community members to donate items. We decided to add a layer to our food drive by having the youth go on a shopping spree at Walmart. Each team of (2) youth was given a $15 spending limit. $14 was available to spend on canned goods, cereal boxes, water bottles, juice bottles, or other non-perishable food items. The remaining $1 had to be used for sales tax (see we’re teaching youth basic economics!).

After going over some basic rules (no running, yelling, or general nuisance-causing behavior) at the masjid youth

Mohamed and Nabeel carefully find their way to every kid's favorite aisle...JUNK FOOD!!!

boarded our selected modes of transportation and drove to Walmart. The short trip to Walmart was followed by each team eagerly grabbing s shopping cart. The goal was for each team to collect the most pounds of non-perishable food items which they could buy in $15. Normally youth dislike going shopping but when you give them purchasing power, their sad frowns turn upside down to smiling faces.

The shopping spree allowed us to educate the youth about basic concepts like unit prices (the cost per ounce/pound/liter of each item). When comparing between 2 similar canned good products with different prices, they were able to figure out which item would give them more bang for their dollar.

Each team of youth was given a sheet to help them keep track of the cost of the items in their shopping carts and how much money they had left to spend.

Murtaza carefully calculates how much money his team has left. Subtract 2 from 5 and carry the 3...why am I being forced to do math over summer vacation?


Oooo popsicle sticks! I wonder how much these bags weigh

Muhammad, Amr, and Hazem thought they found the secret treasure which would lead their team to victory – $0.76 juice.

Hazem finds the hidden treasure...$0.76 Koolaid! Problem is all the shelves are empty

Unfortunately for them, the “juice” was actually Koolaid powder which weighed very little. With disappointment, their team moved on to search for a better deal. Teams finally decided to load up on water bottles since they would be able to purchase 4-5 trays of water bottles for under $14.

Finally, the best deal is found: water bottles! Too bad Haroon and Salah placed a limit of 2 per team

Unfortunately for these teams, Salah and Haroon set a limit for 2 trays of water per team. As teams quickly raced to find additional items to put in their shopping carts, a minor traffic jam began to pop-up in the canned goods aisle.

Traffic jam on aisle 4 - Muhammad looks like he just jumped out of the Matrix

After 40 minutes of intense aisle-to-aisle shopping, youth were finally ready to check-out and head back to the masjid.

Tassawar and Ali going with Popsicles and water


Amr, Hazem, and Muhammad going with the all-liquid diet

After arriving back at the masjid and unloading all the items purchased, a new problem was discovered – would  there be enough space in the donation boxes to hold all of these items?

Welcome to the ISGL Bazaar!

In order to make everything fit properly, the youth had to work with their teammate to remove every single item in their boxes. They then re-organized items they had just bought from Walmart and packaged them with the previously donated items.

In order to fit everything in the brown donation box, youth had to re-organize their items

Alhamdulillah after a little wrangling, all the teams were able to successfully fit their items in the donation box…well sort of.

Items packaged neatly in the donation boxes


Some boxes are now overflowing with canned goods...ahh the barakah

Jazakum Allahu Khairan to our community for providing donations to support the ISGL Youth Group food drive! In shaa Allah every item collected will be of benefit to a local community member in need.



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