Muslim Students Association members enjoyed an array of foods from the House of Kabob Monday after fasting for the first day of the holy month of Ramadan. The dinner at sundown broke the day’s fast, called iftar in Arabic, which marks the beginning of Ramadan.
The Muslim students gathered to pray in the Marvin Center before eating a dinner of Pakistani food, consisting of kabobs, rice, chickpeas, salad and pita bread. They will fast every day during Ramadan from sunrise to sunset. The holy month – during which the Quran, the Muslim holy text, was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad – lasts until Dec. 26 or 27, depending on the lunar cycle.
It is an exercise in gaining better self-discipline and control, said MSA Vice President Layla El-Wafi. It is not a time to be isolated, but instead to focus on reflection and development to elevate our entire character.
Muslims abstain from daily activities in ways other than just eating and drinking. They also fast with their ears and mouth, meaning they avoid listening to bad words and refrain from telling lies, El-Wafi said.
The MSA, which has about 800 members, will host free dinners every night from Monday through Friday until Dec. 15. The dinners will feature a variety of foods including Chinese and Southeast Asian.
It’s a great way to bring the community together, junior Nikou Fadai said. It’s something we’ve done all our lives and we look forward to it. Fasting is cleansing physically and spiritually.
All the food is prepared according to Islamic law, MSA President Faisal Matadar said. The fast can be broken with any kind of food, but it is traditionally done with water, milk or dates as the Prophet Muhammad did, Matadar said. Food is usually also consumed before sunrise during Ramadan.
Fasting is not just about not eating, junior Sara Ibrahim said. It’s about a spiritual remembrance and being a better Muslim. Some of our roommates even do it with us.
The MSA also held a kick-off event to talk about the spiritual importance of Ramadan. The students received prayer books and beads as presents. The MSA will also hold morning prayers in New Hall and evening prayers in the Marvin Center throughout the holy month. Ramadan ends with Eid Al-Fitr, a feast at the end of the month.
The events are a good way for everyone to get together in one place. It’s important to do our religious duties together, MSA member Abid Mirza said.