Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Ramadan Fosters Community for Hoyas

Blessed, enchanted and eagerly anticipated, the arrival of the holy month of Ramadan has united generations of Muslims in the renewal of faith, bonding of friendship and reorienting commitments to reflect the inherent goodness within each individual.

Since fasting in the month of Ramadan demands such a stringent regiment on the part of believers, many see this as a time to focus on personal goals and expectations often lost when they are not in a state of willed-restraint. For Muslim Hoyas, this translates to an ethic very much in line with the Jesuit notion of cura personalis. The fasting state subdues one’s base appetites and frees the mind and body from desires that hamper clear thought. This in turn allows a depth of worship unlike that felt in any other time of year.

Humanity has expressed the fast through many faiths, but the one constant in all these traditions remains the unseen commitment reserved between the believer and the Divine. Unlike ritual prayer, pilgrimage or charitable acts, fasting precludes any material witness. It is a private trust meant solely to invoke God’s pleasure. Nonetheless in the Islamic view, even the simplest act with proper intent can achieve the merit equivalent to a lifetime of pious conduct.

Thus Muslims on campus realize a special opportunity exists to prioritize their most fundamental responsibilities. Pausing to read the Quran, sending an e-mail to a distant relative, beginning a paper well before it is due, attending the special late-night taraweeh prayers in Copley Hall, forgiving a friend or giving a smile while walking to class mark the special urgency felt during Ramadan to manifest change in the heart. Having the strength to hold these resolutions goes to the essence of this holy month’s purpose: standing before God with a clear conscience.

As upperclassmen looking back, each of the weeks in Ramadan passes as wistfully as our four years on the Hilltop. At the forefront of our memories are the details of individual days of fasting throughout the month itself. Suhoor, the pre-dawn breakfast, ranges from large packs of boisterous students crowding into the nearest IHOP to an intimate gathering of friends in an apartment for a meal of Moroccan flatbread and honey. Equally prominent in our memories are long days passed anywhere between dozing in a cubicle in Pierce Reading Room to unabashedly napping in bed after noontime prayers. Iftar, the evening breaking of the fast, gathers the community casually amidst moments of laughter and seriousness in McShain Lounge, or in the relative elegance and ceremony felt by all in Copley Formal Lounge.

Aside from the visible moments of festivity, Ramadan graces us with a period of introspection often unattainable beyond the sacred month. We embrace opportunities to undertake community service projects as a means of living the message of social justice, experiencing a small measure of the plight that far too many in this world endure daily. The Fall Retreat, a weekend of spiritual reflection in November, which customarily takes place during Ramadan, provides another brief respite during which we can withdraw momentarily from the humdrum of campus life. Lastly, during the intense nights of prayer in the latter third of the month, we hope to expunge ourselves of past mistakes and begin anew with a clean slate.

Most importantly, past experiences remind us that Ramadan presents an occasion to meet fresh faces and share our joy with others. With iftars cosponsored by diverse campus organizations and the annual Fast-A-Thon Banquet – on Oct. 3 this year – Ramadan gives students the vital chance to build the bridges of friendship and appreciation to counter the pitfalls of intercultural misunderstanding.

This year, the Muslim Student Assocation is opening its arms, as in the past, to the rest of the university community, hoping to create the relationships integral to the future of a close-knit campus. If there is one message that Ramadan can bring to us all, it is one of exchanging places and substantively making the effort to understand one another, with no boundaries.

In this spirit, we welcome anyone interested, or simply hungry, to join us in McShain Lounge for iftaar dinner around 7 p.m., depending on sunset, Mondays through Thursdays until Oct. 13.

Asra Ashfaq is a junior in the McDonough School of Business and is president of the Muslim Students Association. Aakib Khaled is a sophomore in the College and MSA’s vice president. Reaz Mehdi is a senior in the School of Foreign Service and MSA’s Ramadan coordinator.

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