The ninth month of the lunar-based Muslim calendar is called Ramadan. This year Ramadan began August 1 until the end of the month. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from food and water from dawn to dusk.
Fasting means abstaining from food and water, and many religions have some type of fasting such as the Catholic’s Lent and the Jewish Yom Kippur. To remain humble and appreciate what one has, Muslims observe the beginning of the New Year by fasting.
At the start of UCM’s fall semester, many Muslim students were dealing with classes, extracurricular activities, in addition to fasting during the day. The Muslim Student Association at UC Merced (or MSA@UC Merced for short) hosted the 2011 Grand Iftar event to commend their struggles the day after classes resumed.
Iftar is the time for when Muslims break their fast by eating and drinking water, which they do every night for the 30 days Ramadan month.
This event marked the fifth year MSA@UC Merced raised cultural awareness across campus. This event of breaking fast together was open to Muslims, non-Muslims, faculty, staff, students and community members.
MSA@UC Merced, Office of Student Life, ASUCM, and Vice Chancellor Jane Lawrence coordinated Grand Iftar 2011. UCM’s very own Lake Side Catering provided the free food.
UC Merced's new Chancellor, Dorothy Leland, and Vice Chancellor, Jane Lawrence, spoke at the two-hour event. There was also a guest speaker, recently graduated UCLA MSA President, Nader Nasr, who gave a speech that went over the importance of fasting and religion in general. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) helped gift Qurans to all the speakers.
After the speeches, food was available, but outside of the DC, they laid prayer rugs, so the Muslims could pray together before breaking their fast.
Junior Malack Khounda is an MSA@UC Merced event coordinator. She and other MSA members promoted the event through various methods such as posters, tabling where they passed out 400+ flyers, and sending out invitations to administration.
Even though school had just resumed, the hard work paid off, as it was the most successful Grand Iftar at UCM with more than 100 attendees.
Khounda said, “We hope to have [more] events that would have people from UC Merced and Merced community learn about Islam and have their questions answered. All the officers worked together to make this event possible. Each of us has a specific job to do and we got it done. I really want to thank Monir Ahmed, our advisor, because he was the one who got into contact with the chancellor. A special thanks to the Chancellor because she came.”
President of the UCM Business Society, junior student Garrett Patton came to represent his club at the event. He was impressed by how well MSA tied the community to an on-campus event and the overall organization.
Patton said, “The guest speaker was impressive and I learned something new about the Ramadan holiday, and it made me think about enrichment of cultures here at UCM. Next year, I am looking forward to more cultural food because I am definitely attending again!”
Morning Eid Prayers took place on Tuesday, August 30, and the MSA@ UC Merced organized transportation for students to the off-campus event located at Yosemite. Khutbah, the speech after Eid Prayers, was next and then the event wrapped up with the distribution of snacks.
School just began yet MSA @UC Merced proves to be active in raising awareness about their religious education. MSA general meetings have not yet been established, but contact email@example.com more information.