Muslim Student Association celebrates start of Ramadan with iftar dinner, care packages

The+Muslim+Student+Association+broke+their+fast+on+the+first+day+of+Ramadan+on+April+12+with+an+iftar+dinner+together.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+%40msa_lafayttecollege_+Instagram%29

The Muslim Student Association broke their fast on the first day of Ramadan on April 12 with an iftar dinner together. (Photo courtesy of @msa_lafayttecollege_ Instagram)

Paige Mathieu

Ramadan began this past Tuesday, and members of the Muslim Student Association (MSA) are not letting the hybrid semester stand in the way of celebrating as a community.

Ramadan is a holy month of fasting in Muslim communities, centered around limiting distractions in order to reset, re-focus on religion and find a sense of peace.

MSA held a socially-distanced iftar for students on campus on Tuesday.

Iftar, according to MSA public relations chair Fatimata Cham ’23, is the meal that Muslims eat when breaking their fast after sunset. Traditions around iftar may depend on the individual person or family, but it often begins with prayer, and then the fast is broken by eating a date. The community will then enjoy their meal together.

“[The meal] varies from culture to culture,” Cham said. “I know for me, I eat specific African traditional foods, but I know being on campus we can’t really do stuff like that, so it’s less culturally influenced and more just whatever is available.”

MSA’s first iftar gathering was held at the Interfaith Chapel in compliance with COVID-19 protocols. The group hopes to hold weekly iftar dinners with their community throughout Ramadan, which ends on May 12. It is unclear how the college’s recent move to Level 2 may affect events planned before April 26.

Additionally, MSA created care packages for Muslim students on campus.

Marjana Tafader ’22, president of MSA, wrote in an email that the care packages contain Ramadan goodies and necessities such as a prayer rug, dates and a book.

“Both [the care packages and iftar dinner] were possible because of the financial support of our College Chaplain, Alex Hendrickson,” Tafader added.

Cham also brought to light some common misconceptions surrounding Ramadan.

“A lot of people think that they can’t eat around us. You can definitely eat around us,” she explained. “Just go on about your day as normal as possible…but also understand that it is physically taxing…so we might not be as outwardly open to talking a lot.”

Cham also wanted to remind the Lafayette community, especially professors, that this is a busy month for Muslim students. She asked the community to “just [be] cognizant of the fact that people are fasting and they might have a lot going on that they might want to focus on during this month.”

“We are really excited for this month and to be celebrating it, whether it’s virtual or in-person on campus with one another,” Cham said.

Aside from Ramadan, MSA has recently focused its attention on supporting Muslims women. They are planning to invite a panel of Muslim women to discuss their careers with the group in the near future, according to Cham. MSA has also been using its Instagram page, @msa_lafayettecollege_ to discuss topics impacting Muslim communities.