November 7, 2005

Cornellians Celebrate Ramadan's End With Banquet

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A diverse array of people filled Trillium in Kennedy Hall yesterday evening for the Eid Banquet, sponsored by the Muslim Educational and Cultural Association (MECA).

Millions of Muslims around the world have celebrated Eid-al-Fitr, the commemoration of the end of the holy month of Ramadan, celebrated for three days beginning after the sighting of the new moon.

For Muslims, Ramadan is the holiest month of the year in which they fast from sunrise to sunset for 30 days. By fasting, Muslims are reminded of the suffering of the poor and practice self-control, abstaining from food and drinks during the day. Cleansing the body and mind, Muslims feel the peace that comes from spiritual devotion through fasting. It is believed that during the month of Ramadan, the first verses of the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, were revealed.

The event began with a recitation from the Qur’an, followed by a speech on “Eid and the formation of an Islamic Identity” by keynote speaker Imam Kasim Kopuz, Imam of the Islamic Organization of the Southern Tier and prayer leader at the Johnson City Mosque. The speech addressed the various roles of a Muslim during Ramadan, and the meaning of Eid-al-Fitr.

“Eid is the celebration of the month’s long journey of reminding ourselves of our purity,” Kopuz said.

A slide show presentation by Omer Bajwa, graduate student in the Department of Near Eastern Studies, depicted five special mosques or places of worship for Muslims. Detailed pictures enthralled the audience as Bajwa spoke about the mosques of Masjid Quba, Masjid al-Jumu’a, Masjid al-Qiblatayn, Masjid an-Nabwi and Masjid al-Haram.

A second presentation, “Facets of Contemporary Islamic Art and Architecture,” was given by Prof. Iftikhar Dadi, history of art. The speakers collectively educated the audience, both Muslims and non-Muslims alike, about the Islamic culture from various parts of the world.

“I think this banquet really shows how the Muslim community can be unified for a common positive cause,” said Rif Rahman ’09.

The event also included Eid songs by the Madrasa al-Rumman Children’s Choir, and a dinner buffet.

Fortune cookies, with translations of “Happy Eid” in various languages written in them, were distributed during the program.

“My favorite so far was the singing and the fortune cookies where for each saying there was a person in the room who could translate the meaning,” said Seth Sanders, visiting assistant professor of Hebrew Bible in near eastern studies.

The event celebrated the end of Ramadan for the Muslim community at Cornell and in Ithaca and provided knowledge about the Islamic faith to people of various cultures.

“[The event] gives non-Muslims insight into Muslim values and culture” said Shawn Jolly ’08.

Those in attendance enjoyed lectures, food and music, while coming together to celebrate a joyous occasion.

“It’s nice to see so many people of different geographic and ethnic backgrounds coming together and celebrating in one room,” said Aruna Bharathi ’08.

Archived article by Noreen Rizvi
Sun Contributor