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Audio Postcard: Youth Group Organizes Drive-Through Eid Celebration

This weekend, Muslims across the globe celebrated Eid al-Fitr, the festival marking the end of Ramadan. Because of the coronavirus, communities in the Miami Valley were not able to gather, hug, or eat together as usual. But the youth group at the Dayton Mercy Society (DMS) in Miamisburg dreamed up a drive-through Eid celebration.

WYSO’s Leila Goldstein stopped by the event and spoke with DMS Young Life members Izza Haq, 15, Salma Albezreh, 17, and Taha Khanzada, 18, DMS Youth Coordinator Mehreen Raja, and DMS Chairperson of the Board Dr. Luby Abdurrahman. 

[This transcript has been lightly edited for clarity.]

Izza Haq: Originally, we had planned to give out some goodie bags to some of the community members, but I realized that it would be kind of tricky to go to everybody's houses. I did see online, on TikTok, of other mosques giving out food for iftar and I also saw some churches doing it for Easter, where they gave out a bunch of Easter eggs. I was like, that would be so cool if we did it here. I really thought that we could pull it off.  

Salma Albezreh: We had a lot of planning on like, OK, people have to enter here and have to exit here. We'll have the food trucks over here and then we'll have volunteers, masks, and gloves, where they just hand out already prepackaged doughnuts, pre-made goodie bags and then chai that's already been put in cups and cream, it's already been done. So we really were focused on having everything that's going out to the people already made and packaged so that people can take something in from the mosque without feeling like it's breaking the guidelines.   

Luby Abdurrahman: Well, we're winging it. We have to go the route of food trucks, which is unusual for us. Typically, we cater food and it's really good food and it's buffet style. The food truck is CinDay Cafe and they're serving hot dogs and burgers, halal. Which means our kids are in heaven. Usually the parents like the ethnic food and the kids want something American because that's what they are. So the kids are in heaven today. 

Mehreen Raja: Well, there's no contact. Usually after Eid prayer we all get together. We have a khutbah, which is like a sermon after the prayer. It's more united. We hug each other, congratulate each other. It's just such a welcoming and joyous occasion. But I feel like we're kind of getting the gist of that through this drive through. 

Taha Khanzada: In my opinion, I don't think it compares to it because the parking here would be insane. There'd be cars back to neighborhoods back there. There'd be cars all the way down the road over there. Also today, after our lecture, we were supposed to hug everyone, say Eid Mubarak to everyone, and that didn't even get to happen. So I was just feeling really empty inside. I was like, yo, this is not the same as what it was like last year and the year before.  

Albezreh: Despite how different it is, if anything, it made it more special. Because something in our tradition, it's always very important to have community, but in the end, the faith lies within oneself. It's about, will you still stand by your faith even when you're sitting by yourself? Will you still stand up and pray and observe the traditions that we hold so dear to us?  

Raja: I felt like Ramadan for me this time was very relaxing. Even though we have a huge sense of community during regular Ramadan months, we come to the masjid a lot more, we pray together a lot more, but I feel like everything is rushed. We're trying to get from one place to the next. This time we were able to pray at home and we were able to spend time with our family. I felt like that was just a different perspective on Ramadan altogether. 

Khanzada: Every night we'd always go to the mosque to pray and it would be a nice feeling, that, wow, our community as Muslims, we're all one big community. Ramadan has just the best feeling when you're praying at a mosque and having friends to do something after. Missing that chance this year has taken a big toll. 

Haq: On a spiritual level, I think that it was so much more different because I had the time to actually think about Ramadan on a spiritual level instead of being involved with school and activities and having to do all these other things that I wouldn't have to worry about anymore. So it was actually a really eye opening experience for me because I got to see the other side of Ramadan. 

While working at the station Leila Goldstein has covered the economic effects of grocery cooperatives, police reform efforts in Dayton and the local impact of the coronavirus pandemic on hiring trends, telehealth and public parks. She also reported Trafficked, a four part series on misinformation and human trafficking in Ohio.
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