MSU, College offer Ramadan support

The College and the Muslim Student Union (MSU) have been making a concerted effort to accommodate students who observe Ramadan. The holiest month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan, began Sept. 1 and will end around Oct. 1 this year. It is a time when Muslims abstain from food, drink and water – as well as impure thoughts and harsh actions – between sunrise and sunset daily.

To provide adequate dining options for those who recognize Ramadan, a refrigerator in Thompson Memorial Chapel is kept stocked with food for late-night consumption. Also, Dining Services allocates extra Snack Bar and dining points to those observing. Finally, Greylock dining hall stays open until 8 p.m. year round and provides halaal menus – meals that follow the dietary laws prescribed by Islamic law – on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Members of the MSU are grateful for the College’s understanding and generosity with regards to Ramadan. “The students are very happy with the facilitations the College had made for them,” said Parvin Hajizadeh, advisor to the MSU. “They ask for something, and the College will try to give it to them.”

Those observing it feel that they have been receiving respect from those on campus. “Everyone here is so accepting and understanding,” said co-chair of the MSU, Irtefa Binte-Farid ’11. “You never feel as if you are uncomfortable.” She recalled how last year as a first-year, many of her entry-mates would wait to eat dinner so that she could join them.

While students at the College might miss the traditional breaking fast with families and visits with neighbors, the MSU had tried to keep this social aspect of Ramadan alive with a concerted effort to spend more time together as a group, in everything from praying and breaking fast together every night to eating together at the Snack Bar or Greylock. “Ramadan is such a social event,” Binte-Farid said. “Everybody unites because everyone is doing the same thing.”

MSU has also tried to get the rest of the community involved in the religious observance by sponsoring the fourth annual Fast-a-thon this Saturday. The event, held by Muslim student groups across North America, saw students giving up their breakfast and lunch points and fasting together with their peers. A record 530 Ephs participated this year in support of the Goodrich Foundation, which aids orphans and refugees in Afghanistan.