Those who attend Iftar hosted by the Muslim Student Association (MSA) know they’ll leave with full bellies and even fuller hearts. Friends and strangers alike greet one another with smiles, beckoning newcomers to take a seat, grab some food, and celebrate Iftar. 

Though MSA regularly hosts Iftar for Muslim students, Iftar in the Quarry provides all students an opportunity to celebrate and share in the warmth of the MSA community. The event is scheduled for Friday, April 14 at 6:30 p.m., but interested students are also invited​​​​ to fast the day of the event. 

The MSA makes a pronounced effort to host daily events during Ramadan, a time that can feel particularly lonely for students living away from home.

“College students are living on their own. There’s no mom to make dinner for you, or family to celebrate with, and it’s really tough,” said MSA president Zayd Jahangiri. “It’s very important that [the MSA plays] this role where we become people’s family away from their family.” 

After first breaking their fast with dates and water, individuals partake in a nightly prayer, known as Maghrib, before filling their plates for dinner. Photo by Mia Pabros.

Muslim students who remain on campus during Ramadan seek community and belonging in the MSA, which holds Iftar each night in the alumni room above the College 9 and Lewis Dining Hall. Each day of Ramadan, around 7:30 p.m., members meet to break their fast with dates and water. They then perform the nightly prayer, Maghrib, before heading into the dining hall.

For the 29 to 30 days of Ramadan, Muslim individuals all around the world fast from sunrise to sunset. Iftar, which translates directly to “dinner,” is the meal specifically eaten during Ramadan to break each day’s fast.

The annual Iftar in the Quarry celebration this Friday will be open to all students and community members. It’s an opportunity to learn, celebrate, and eat some great food.

For MSA members like Vice President Sarah Shinta, Iftar evokes memories of home-cooked meals shared with family and friends. 

“During Ramadan, you share these really intimate moments. Your friends see you when you’re tired, grumpy, or hangry,” Shinta said. “We give each other support and it’s like ‘we’re close, we’re almost there.’”

Students looking to attend can expect food, games like tug-of-war and musical chairs, and informative booths — all under the setting sun. With a scheduled speaker and lots of opportunities for engagement, the event intends to inform community members who may not be familiar with Ramadan or the MSA.

Though usually held in the alumni room at College Nine and John R. Lewis Dining Hall, Iftar took place at MSA president Zayd Jahangir’s house on April 11 to offer a change in environment and create space off campus. Photos by Mia Pabros.

“We don’t usually get to share this kind of experience with non-Muslims on a level this big,” said Arshad Mohammad, MSA treasurer. “It’s really special to invite others who may not know about Ramadan or friends who want to experience this time with us.”

In addition to its spiritual significance, Ramadan provides a bonding experience for Muslim and non-Muslim students alike. For members like Kayla Ybarra, fasting together and collectively breaking that fast fosters a sense of camaraderie. 

“The love and warmth I felt in this community from the first time I came is crazy,” Ybarra said. “I’ve never felt love like that from strangers before. You may be physically hungry, but you’ll be spiritually full.”