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

Georgetown Celebrates Ramadan with Lighting Ceremony

Courtesy of @gumuslimlife | Georgetown University hosted its first lighting ceremony for the celebration of Ramadan on Mar. 13, becoming the first university to host a Ramadan lighting ceremony.

Georgetown University organized a lighting ceremony in honor of Ramadan on March 13.


The Office of Campus Ministry and Georgetown Muslim Life hosted the ceremony, which commemorated the holiest month of the Islamic lunar calendar, during which the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad in the Muslim faith. The event involved a recitation of verses from the Quran, a speech by Imam Yahya Hendi, Georgetown’s Muslim chaplain, and the symbolic lighting of Ramadan decorations to commemorate the beginning of the holy month.   


Ramadan is a month of fasting from sunrise to sunset for many practicing Muslims. Hendi said his speech focused on the importance of fasting within Islam.


“I spoke about the spirit of fasting and the meaning of fasting and what it means to us as Muslims, as human beings,” Hendi told The Hoya. “Then I did a prayer for the community, for the university, for the larger human family.”


Hendi said Ramadan serves as a spiritual training period for the Muslim community with a focus on the ethos of holiness and abstinence.


“The month of Ramadan is a 30-day training month, a spiritual and moral training month that allows us to think about ourselves, who we are and who we want to be, how we want to grow spiritually, morally, socially, domestically, internationally,” Hendi said. 


Georgetown was the first American university to hire a full-time Muslim chaplain in 1999 and became the first American university to open a mosque with ablution stations, a spirituality and formation hall and a halal kitchen when the school’s Yarrow Mamout Masjid opened in 2023


A variety of campus members attended the ceremony, including Rabbi Daniel Schaefer, the interim director for Jewish Life at Georgetown.


Schaefer said the ceremony marked a beautiful display of interfaith solidarity, and he was pleased to witness the public celebration.


“I’m very happy that the Muslim community could welcome in the holy month of Ramadan with a Lighting Celebration in Healy Foyer and celebrate Islam proudly in the public space along with students, staff, and faculty from many different faiths,” Schaefer wrote to The Hoya. “It’s a wonderful way to share the beauty of our tradition with the university community and feel at home on campus.”


In addition to the lighting ceremony, Georgetown Muslim Life has hosted daily Iftars, meals at sunset that break the observants’ fast, on Mondays through Thursdays throughout Ramadan, which lasts from March 10 to April 9.


Hendi said Georgetown Muslim Life also hopes to extend its observance of Ramadan outside the Muslim community by bringing the university community together to break fast with an Iftar on April 2.


“We will have deans, professors, faculty, staff, students, Muslims and non-Muslims alike to break the fast together,” Hendi said.


Peer Khan (SFS ’27), Muslim Life’s director of alumni relations, said the lighting ceremony sought to help break down misunderstandings regarding Ramadan and Islam as a whole.


“Growing up, many Muslim students, including myself, have faced a lot of questions about why we fast and what Ramadan is, and there’s a lot of misconceptions about Ramadan and Islam more broadly,” Khan wrote to The Hoya. “That’s why I think the Lighting Ceremony was important, because it allows people who are not Muslim to understand the spiritual and historical significance of Ramadan.”


Full disclosure: Peer Khan (SFS ’27) formerly served as a business operations assistant for The Hoya.


Khan said the inaugural ceremony — and the Office of Campus Ministry’s support — carried additional meaning as the Hilltop reckons with the violence that has plagued the Middle East since Hamas’ attack on Israel on Oct. 7 and Israel’s subsequent military invasion of the Gaza Strip.


“Since last year, a lot of Muslim students on campus have felt uncomfortable and even unsafe with so much tension over the conflict in the Middle East, so it meant a lot to me that the University was able to be there to support us,” Khan wrote.


Hendi said the Muslim community has established a supportive niche at Georgetown and that the university will continue to work to maintain this community.


“Muslims feel a part of this family, a part of this university, and we hope to continue to be a part of this family here, a family of these Hoyas,” Hendi said.

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