Sounds of laughing filled the air of Valencia Glen Park while families played games Sunday afternoon as the Muslim Youth of Santa Clarita, or MYSC, held a picnic to celebrate the Muslim holiday of Eid Al Adha.
“Eid Al Ahda is a celebration of the end of the pilgrimage to Mecca and to remember the sacrifices that Abraham made all those years ago,” said Walid Metwaly, MYSC founder and president. “Typically, during this time of year, we like to get together, eat and have fun as a community.”
Metwaly founded MYSC in 2017, when he felt that despite Santa Clarita’s acceptance of diversity, he did not feel like the Muslim community had much of a voice. He founded the organization due to his belief that children are the future, and wanted to help create leaders who were educated in their Muslim culture but who would also forge connections with other cultural groups.
The picnic featured food and fellowship, as well as inflatable carnival games for the children in attendance, and puzzles, baseball and soccer. Ahmed Elmagar, secretary of MYSC and organizer of the picnic, said it was important for him to have activities that entertained the kids, as well as ways for adults to play with the children.
“We chose these activities because we wanted to engage the children outside of electronics, their phones and ‘Fortnite,’” Elmagar said. “During most of the year, people are working and it’s hard to get together, so it’s important for us to have this time of year when we can all meet up. We open this event to Muslim and non-Muslim people alike because our goal is to share who we are with the community.”
Sherine Sabbah has attended the Eid AL Adha picnic every year and said she looks forward to the picnic every year and gathering with other members of her faith.
“It’s important for me to be able to celebrate my Muslim religion and the picnic is also a social gathering for us,” she said. “The picnic is great because it gathers everyone from all three mosques as one community and it allows us to both meet new people and meet others that we haven’t seen for a while.”
For others like Sam Sharif, who came from Palmdale, the picnic has less to do with religion and more to do with common company.
“I don’t really know of any celebrations or Muslim communities in Palmdale, and most of my friends live here, so whenvever I see events like it online I try to come,” Sharif said. “It’s something I do to follow my parents, but I’m not that religious. I come to let my kids play with other Muslim kids and enjoy time together with other people.”
Both Metwaly and Elmagar said one of the most important functions of having the public celebration of a religious holiday like Eid is to strengthen the bonds of all the people living in the community.
“We’re not meeting behind closed doors, we have nothing to hide and we are just normal, peaceful people,” Metwaly said. “We’re American Muslims. We’re Americans and we are also Muslims, and I’m so proud of how Santa Clarita has accepted us and shown us love.”