October 24, 2006

Students of all faiths chow down at Iftar

A platter of dates. Hot lentil stew. Green salads. Spicy peas. Potato curry. Dhal. Towers of pita and heaps of falafel.

Students of all religions broke the Muslim fast of Ramadan last Thursday at Brent House, the Episcopal student center, during the sixth annual interfaith Iftar, sponsored by Interfaith Dialogue.

The food also reflected the diversity of organizations involved in the endeavor: about half the dinner came from Cedar’s of Lebanon on East 53rd Street, while volunteers of all faiths prepared the rest of the food in the Newberger Hillel Center’s kitchen.

The night began with prayers for Muslim students, who withdrew into the basement for privacy.

Iftar is the meal that breaks the Ramadan fast, which occurs every day until sundown during this ninth and holiest Islamic month. Traditionally, this is the month during which the prophet Muhammad received the Koran. During this time, lies, slander, gossip, false oaths, greed, and adultery are especially prohibited.

Today is the final day of Ramadan.

After prayers, the food was brought out and uncovered, filling Brent House with the scents that had lured more than 150 attendees, about half of whom were Muslim. Last year, 80 students attended the event

During the meal, Stacy Alan, the Episcopalian chaplain of the University, gave introductory remarks.

Ruby Hasnie, a fourth-year in the College who explained the history of the event, said the interfaith Iftar began as part of a Jewish-Muslim dialogue series and reorganized seven years ago. It is now under the auspices of the Interfaith Dialogue, an organization that holds multi-faith talks every week and also puts on Shabbat and Mardi Gras celebrations.

After the introductions, Fahd Tayyab, a fourth-year physics and philosophy major who transferred from King’s College in London, delivered a speech on the importance of Ramadan, its centrality to the Muslim faith, and the myriad benefits of fasting.

The Iftar was co-sponsored by the Muslim Students Organization, Lutheran Campus Ministries, Calvert House, Rockefeller Chapel, SGFC, Hillel, and Brent House.