MSA makes Ramadan away from home less lonely
By Jesse Taylor
Students gathered to cook food, pray and celebrate the holy month of Ramadan in the Kent Hall kitchen Sunday. Organized by the Muslim Student Association, this allows Muslim students to have a community to celebrate one of the most important worldwide religious holidays.
Ramadan is marked by a period of forgiveness, repentance and experiencing how people without basic necessities live. Fasting from sunup to sundown, millions of Muslims around the world participate in the religious month in an effort to become closer to Allah. Ramadan started March 22 and will continue until April 20 of this year.
Typically, members of the Muslim community gather with family and friends to break their fast at dinnertime, or Iftar. Having a large community of people to break fast with is one of the highlights of Ramadan. However, before the MSA was established, it was difficult for Muslim students at Plattsburgh to find a community to celebrate Ramadan.
Saran Kaba, vice president of the MSA, recognizes that.
“When I am home my mom, my dad, my sisters, we chat, we eat, we pray together, but we don’t have that here,” Kaba said.
While having Iftar with friends is not the same as with family, it is better than nothing. Breaking fast and praying alone during Ramadan is difficult as a follower of Islam. Hawa Sillah, secretary of the MSA, said, “It just gives you a sense of feeling lonely.”
That is the complete opposite of what Ramadan is supposed to be.
Mohammed Hassan Mohammed, fall ‘22 alumnus and former member of the MSA, said, “My cousins used to come over to my house — my uncle, my aunt, my grandma, and everybody — and we used to break our fast together.”
For MSA, the goal during Ramadan is to give a sense of community rather than loneliness.
In addition to celebrating Ramadan, MSA meets every Wednesday in the Angell College Center to discuss issues, play jeopardy, do arts and crafts and to generally have a meeting place to discuss their faith with a supportive community. Everyone is welcome. Students do not have to be a member of the MSA or a Muslim to attend these meetings.
Those attending MSA meetings and events could be someone who supports the club, wants to know more about the religion of Islam or is simply curious about the club.
At the beginning of the year, the MSA met to come up with a list of issues they wanted to address, and at each subsequent meeting they have come up with ways to educate people on their faith. The MSA has given presentations on Islamophobia, earthquakes in Syria, and, to start off March — Women’s History Month — the important women figures in Islam.
Another one of the key aspects of the club is that MSA also works to clear any “misconceptions” that people may have about Muslims in general.
“One big misconception that we try to avoid is that Muslims support violence,” Sillah said.
To combat these issues, the MSA works to educate members of the campus community in a “positive way.”