About 100 people gathered together Thursday evening at the Open Campus Iftar, hosted at the University of Michigan Trotter Multicultural Center. The event, organized by the Muslim Students’ Association and the Felicity Foundation, welcomed students and community members alike to participate in the Muslim tradition.
Iftar is one of the religious observances of Ramadan, the ninth and most sacred month of the year in the Islamic calendar. Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, the five principal tenets which guide Muslim practices and beliefs. During Ramadan, Muslims around the world fast each day from sunrise to sunset, abstaining from all food and drink until dusk. This month-long period is meant to be a time of increased piety, charity and self-awareness.
LSA sophomore Isra Elshafei explained the purpose of Ramadan, stating it is a time for reflection and prayer.
“It’s a month where Muslims take their time to really reflect on the things that they have,” Elshafei said. “You have your meal in the morning, which is before sunrise, and then your Iftar, which is when you get to break your fast.”
The daily fast is broken with Iftar at sunset with a call of prayer which occurs around sundown. Muslims perform the evening prayer and then gather to commence dinner. This occurs each day of Ramadan, until the end of the sacred month which is marked by the holiday Eid-al-Fitr.
The event began with a presentation about the purpose of fasting, delivered by Shaykh Mohammed Ishtiaq, one of the Chaplains present.
“The main purpose of Ramadan is to increase in piety,” Ishtiaq said.
He continued to explain that many Muslims see Ramadan as a practice of self-discipline and generosity, and is intended to bring religious followers closer to God and fellow coomunity memebers.
After the presentation, the time for Maghrib arrived, and a prayer was lead outside in the lawn. Iftar commenced, and many attendees broke their fast with sips of water and dried dates. Students and community members began dinner together, many of them ending an almost 17 hour-long fast.
Several attendees expressed how the Open Campus Iftar was a chance for them to meet other students and locals, and appreciated the sense of community they felt when celebrating Ramadan together.
Engineering senior Ahsan Ansari said he believes Ramadan is about more than fasting — it is about creating a community that brings people together.
“I think it goes beyond food,” he said. “Food brings people together but I feel like it’s the community that makes us stay. I’m meeting two brothers right now … they’re two people I normally would have never met on a day-to-day basis, but because of Iftar I got to know their stories.”