Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, celebrates God’s gifting of verses of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad through prayer and fasting. This year, Ramadan is March 22 to April 20.
In addition to central aspects of the month such as charity, prayer, fasting and studying the Quran, Ramadan is a month focused on community. For some Muslim students, college presents the first Ramadan away from home and family, but campus organizations, along with the Raleigh community, provide several opportunities to maintain and build community throughout the month.
Tafsir refers to the careful study of verses of the Quran with focus on interpretation and explanation. The Muslim Student Association will host weekly Tafsirs throughout Ramadan on Wednesdays.
Jibreel Karimi, a fourth-year studying electrical engineering and co-chair of the association’s dawah (invitation) team, said Tafsirs offer an opportunity for close examination and exploration of specific texts within the Quran.
“[Tafsir] is like an interpretation of what the Quran means,” Karimi said. “It's very in depth. We did one before Ramadan and spent an hour going over a single line because it's Arabic. Arabic is a very eloquent and deep language, so going into those takes a lot of time because you can take multiple meanings and multiple interpretations, and translating is also difficult.”
Though the passages are not set in stone, Karimi said he imagines they will spend the month of Ramadan focusing on the seven verses that make up the first chapter of the Quran. Follow the association’s Instagram for more information.
Iftar is the meal eaten after sunset during Ramadan to break fast. The Muslim Student Association partnered with NC State InterVarsity for an interfaith Fastathon on Saturday to jointly celebrate Ramadan and Lent. The event featured a meal, conversation and a food drive to support the Interfaith Food Shuttle.
“Giving a dinner to other people, both out of Ramadan or in Ramadan, is one of the greatest things you can do as a Muslim, as a neighbor,” Karimi said. “We believe in being neighbors to people.”
Karimi said the association is planning to host one more iftar before Ramadan ends. Follow the association’s Instagram to catch further updates.
The Islamic Association of Raleigh, a mosque just down the street from NC State, will also host a community iftar after Maghrib prayer April 7.
Arab Student Organization potluck
Though not religiously affiliated, the Arab Student Organization plans to accommodate its many members who celebrate Ramadan in upcoming events. The organization’s general body meeting on April 6 will take place in the form of a potluck after sunset at The Corner on Centennial Campus.
Sunrise watch party on Dan Allen deck
The Arab Student Organization will also host a sunrise watch party April 16 on the top of Dan Allen deck during Fajr prayer.
Zoie Fares, a fourth-year studying biology and chemistry and the vice president of the Arab Student Organization, said being part of the organization helped her to explore her own relationship with religion in a relaxed, but supportive, environment.
“I had insecurity about joining [religious groups] because I didn't feel like I was knowledgeable enough,” Fares said. “Having a non-religious organization to also be accommodating towards your religious needs, for me personally, allows something just a little bit more easy going. But knowing I'm around other people who are observing this holiday, or even just knowing that there are other people who may not be practicing who are willing to spend time with me, it takes away that loneliness.”
Islamic Association of Raleigh
In addition to the April 7 iftar, the Islamic Association of Raleigh will host special programming throughout Ramadan including youth overnights and weekly Tafsir/memorization sessions. Visit their website for a complete list of Ramadan programming.
Despite being away from home and family, NC State’s Muslim students find belonging and connection on campus throughout Ramadan.
“It's an inclusive experience where you're fasting but you can sit down and know that the guy next to you is fasting,” Karimi said. “It's a bond that we get to kind of talk to each other. And it's also just empowering.”
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