Muslim Student Association Hosts Second Annual Ramadan Iftar Dinner

The event united KPU’s Muslim community on June 14
Mel Pomerleau, Contributor

Students attend the 2nd annual Ramadan iftar hosted by the Muslim Student Association (MSA) on June 24, 2017 at the Afghan Chopan Restaurant in Surrey. (Mel Pomerleau)

The Muslim Student Association hosted their second annual Ramadan Iftar dinner, for KPU students and staff to come together at the end of a day of fasting, on June 14.

Ramadan is a fasting month for Muslims that acts as a time of prayer and self-reflection, and provides the opportunity to focus on an individual’s spiritual self or relationship with God.

During Ramadan, Muslims abstain from food, water, and other physical needs during all daylight hours. While the timing varies between seasons and different regions of the world, there is a deeper significance to the act than just abstaining from meeting the body’s needs.

“What [Ramadan] means to me is a time you take out for your own self development. This is the one time you actually have to test yourself,” says Abdul Tauheed Faheem, president of the Muslim Student Association. “When someone tells me, ‘Your religion oppresses you,’ I’m like, ‘I can eat whenever I want. Who’s going to know that I ate?’ It’s something that takes commitment and you’re not going to do it unless you really want to.”

Shortly after evening prayer on June 14, the feast began. Each table had a plate of dates ready for the moment of breaking, and afterward, groups of people made their way to the buffet.

“Every time we [hold] an event, we invite people from all different backgrounds, races, sexes, orientations, everyone,” says Yusra Said, former MSA President and recent Psychology graduate. “I think it really shows an alliance between students who are of Muslim descent and students who aren’t Muslim and just want to learn more about different cultures and just enjoy and celebrate with us. It brings a lot of unity and makes me more comfortable at Kwantlen knowing that others understand you and wish to know more about you.”

The importance of educating the public about Muslim communities and cuture is an important goal for Said at MSA events..

“I think when I joined the MSA, I felt like other people felt the same way—that we just need to let others know, outside of the Kwantlen community, that you just need to spread the word about culture and Islam to get everyone more connected, and understand that it’s more than just what the media shows,” says Said.

For Faheem, the Ramadan Iftar dinner was a great way of bringing people from different backgrounds, social groups, and beliefs together.

“[The dinner is held] under circumstances where people are kind of forced to make these bonds and make these friendships. So I find this as a way to break the ice of the groups we have at Kwantlen,” says Faheem. “This is a place with people from everywhere, Uganda, Somalia, Fiji, India and Pakistan.”

Faheem’s volunteering with the MSA began last year, when he helped plan the first Iftar dinner and was later asked to be the interim vice president. His involvement eventually led him to become president of the MSA.

“People always say, ‘I want to make change, I want to make a difference,’ but they don’t have a platform to do it. Well, the MSA is here. The university is here. There’s your platform,” says Faheem. “[Hosting events] means I have the potential of opening doors for people who are scared of Muslims or might be scared of the media, or might just have questions in general.”

This event and others by the MSA offers an opportunity for non-Muslim students in the community to learn about the practices of Islam in a non-judgemental environment.

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