Breaking fasts and cultural barriers: Dal hosts its first Ramadan Iftar on campus

- May 29, 2019

Full tables at the Ramadan Iftar. (Lucas Mancini photos)
Full tables at the Ramadan Iftar. (Lucas Mancini photos)

During Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Muslims around the world partake in fasting from dawn until sunset.

The fast-breaking meal after sunset is referred to as Iftar — the breaking of the fast. And last week, on Friday, May 24 Dalhousie hosted a Ramadan Iftar at the International Centre.

“This is the first time that Dalhousie University is actually putting on an Iftar to our knowledge,” said Amina Abawajy, education advisor with Human Rights and Equity Services who helped organize the event. “It’s a partnership with Dal Security, the Human Rights and Equity Services, the International Centre, the Dalhousie Student Union, and the Dalhousie International Students’ Association.”

Bringing community together

Dal Security played a significant part in the Iftar’s organization, as the idea for the event came from Dal Security employee Aziz Bojang.

“There was need that was there that had not been fulfilled,” said Bojang. “It was like everyone wanted the event, but no one was ready or willing to start planning it. This is why when we started everyone was like, ‘yay! Let’s do it!’”

“I think we just all really wanted to see this event happen,” said Lama Farhat, a fourth-year Environmental Science student, and outgoing VP internal of the Dalhousie International Students’ Association, who also contributed to the Iftar’s organization.

“We all have our different reasons for it, but we all just wanted to bring the community together and to have a place for people to feel comfortable and feel like their home. It’s an open event to everyone. It’s a good learning experience. It’s a good time for people to mingle, to understand who they live with and interact with on a daily basis.”

Hasan Sinan, the Dalhousie Student VP academic and external, says the event means a lot to Muslim students.

“I think it’s important for Muslim students, with the violence that Muslims are facing in some countries, to know that their university cares about them, provides them with this safe space, and celebrates their holidays and important dates,” he said.

Grounding values

The event — catered with traditional Iftar fare such as dates, alongside less-traditional crowd pleasers like pizza — was packed, with various members of the Dalhousie community, including students, faculty, staff and their families in attendance.

“The student organizers behind this have done an amazing job at grounding the values we espouse here every day and taking them from aspirational values to actual demonstrations of what it looks like to be safe and inclusive,” said Jake MacIsaac of Dal Security.

“We wanted to show we stand with them in prayer, we are present,” added Bojang. “But also they feel confident knowing we are not profiling them but rather we are providing a safe environment so they can pray.”


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