A group of students at Utah State University (USU) gathered at a pavilion on May 6 where they sat out dishes of food, fruit, lamb, chicken, and rice.
“When you’re out of your country, you want someone to be around you that can make you feel like you are within a community with the same beliefs,” said Moazzam Rind, a USU master’s student and club secretary.
Because Ramadan is a time of celebration, meals are meant to be shared with family, friends, and community members. Rind is one of many Muslim students who are spending this important time far away from home.
A few months ago, he and other students decided to form their club at the campus to create a place of community for Muslim students. Club members also want to focus on community outreach.
The Muslim Students Club has received donations and other resources to host dinners until May 12. These meals are free and open to the public at the pavilion behind the Aggie Village Community Center.
“We want to go and talk to different communities and we want to learn what they believe and why they believe. Understanding each other is a very good way to build a society instead of just living isolated. … If you don’t know each other, you always have fear,” Rind said.
Jack Schmidt, one of Rind’s professors at USU, attended the first iftar and said: “although I’ve traveled to Muslim countries and taught Muslim students, I’m not very familiar with the Islamic traditions.”
“The iftar dinners are a great gesture to the community. There need to be more interfaith events, particularly in these tough times in this country. It’s important for faculty and students to get to know one another as people,” the professor said.
“We’ve to find the common good in each of us. We’ve to find the things that join us together, not the things that separate us, and we need to understand each other,” Schmidt expressed.
Ramadan is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Qur’an to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
During fasting from dawn until sunset, Muslims refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids, smoking, and engaging in sexual relations.
Muslims are also instructed to refrain from sinful behavior that may negate the reward of fasting, such as false speech (insulting, backbiting, cursing, lying, etc.) and fighting except in self-defense.
Muslims dedicate their time during Ramadan to get closer to Allah through prayer, charity, self-restraint, and good deeds. Ramadan is a blessed month where the rewards for all of our good deeds are multiplied and this includes charity work and donations.
Joined iftar meals have become a basic part of the holy month, during which people come together.
In Illinois, more than 150 Muslim and non-Muslim students gathered for iftar in Parkes Hall in Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, on the first day of Ramadan to break the fast together and share a unity message.