Ramadan Reflections at Harvard: My Oasis of Group | Opinion
The tangy odor of cardamom and cinnamon drifts from the freshly brewed masala chai that aunties and uncles sip, dancing with the sugary aroma wafting from the youngsters’s cotton-candy machine. On the entrance of our Ramadan Suhoor tent, I hear a refrain of acquainted, light laughter and comfortable murmurs of dialog within the moonlight. As I whisper the phrases of the Quran and listen to its comfortable sound grace my ears, a sense of peace washes over me.
Rejuvenated by this oasis of group, I’m keen for an additional day of fasting. I forage for the remainder of my household, covertly clutching my wand of cotton sweet and savoring sparse samples of chai en route. Simply as we turn out to be united and start to say our “farewell salams,” we fortunately stumble upon previous mates who pause our return house.
That is how I bear in mind spending my childhood Ramadans on the Islamic Heart of Better Cincinnati.
Annually throughout Ramadan, the thrill of being collectively is palpable; with solely 30 days out there, every evening is irreplaceable. Ramadan represents way more than merely the bodily experiences of starvation or thirst that include fasting from daybreak to sundown. Abstaining from exterior pleasures of foods and drinks requires a level of self-discipline, a form of restraint which frequently compels me to chorus from types of extra consumption.
Ramadan encourages self-reflection, whereas being interspersed with communal experiences; the mixture synthesizes the proper playground for religious cultivation. The expertise compels me to enhance my character, persistence, and contribution to the world round me, in methods merely not doable within the different eleven months of the 12 months.
Night time by evening, the chaotic but cozy setting inside my childhood Suhoor tent fused with tranquil, early morning Fajr and late evening Taraweeh prayers to catalyze my craving to come back to the masjid — the Islamic place of worship — as usually as doable. Solely there, on the masjid, did I actually ever really feel my world slowing down and my very own focus stabilizing amid the entropy of on a regular basis life, selling my need to stay.
Rooted within the lunar calendar, the month of Ramadan shifts earlier every year in relation to the Gregorian calendar. As a consequence of calendar misalignment, Ramadan, as soon as an anchor of my summer time breaks, has now creeped into time period time. Now, lengthy nights spent standing in Taraweeh are often substituted for note-taking at my desk. And for a lot of Muslim college students internationally, this 12 months’s Ramadan could be the first time that they follow away from their very own household, mates, and communities from house.
I’ll be trustworthy: A pivotal consider my faculty choice course of rested upon how every campus group supported Muslims throughout Ramadan. It was vital to me that my faculty setting would foster my potential to develop and enhance in all elements of my life, not simply lecturers.
Ramadan at Harvard has enhanced my expertise in unprecedented methods. With robust assist and path from full-time College Muslim Chaplain Khalil Abdur-Rashid, and Harvard’s first feminine Muslim Chaplain Samia Omar, Harvard college students and associates have entry to an enriching and welcoming group. The joint effort of the Muslim Chaplaincy and the Workplace of the President have created an setting the place Muslim college students can expertise Ramadan on-campus extra comfortably with assured nightly programming.
As a Muslim at Harvard, I’m surrounded by ample sources, which I’d not have with out the advocacy and work of those that have come earlier than me. But this isn’t the norm throughout larger training. Many easy marks of assist, similar to a chosen Islamic prayer area, are nonetheless topics of stagnant discussions being held at different universities throughout the nation.
It’s crucial that different larger training establishments mannequin comparable institutional assist to their Muslim college students, workers, and college, each throughout and after Ramadan. Fastidiously designing sources and assist for Ramadan necessitates months of full-time preparation — a feat that’s greatest achieved by devoted workers relatively than a small handful of self-organized college students. Chaplains Omar and Abdur-Rashid have ensured that each one Harvard associates can be part of collectively in group dinners and congregational prayers throughout each evening of Ramadan. With their help, the variety of members in these occasions has elevated to just about 600 college students prior to now 12 months alone.
As I replicate on this previous Ramadan, I can not assist however respect the palpable sense of pleasure and vitality on campus akin to my oasis of group at house. Constructing off ideation and pleasure from final 12 months, collectively, Muslim college students have organized and planned activities this Ramadan. In collaboration with Affiliate Dean of Inclusion and Belonging Alta Mauro and the Dean of College students Workplace, we, the Harvard Islamic Society, have created Weekly Group Suhoors to show all college students about Ramadan. As well as, we’re internet hosting a bigger celebration for Eid al-Fitr, the Islamic Vacation that concludes this month of fasting.
On a extra private stage, college students have introduced Ramadan traditions from their properties to campus, whether or not that entails adorning iftar areas with lights, giving Eid presents to kids, or creating fundraising initiatives campus-wide.
Now nestled inside the Pupil Group Heart at Hilles, a makeshift prayer room recollects those self same, valuable moments of laughter and dialog I shared years earlier at house. The adhan (name to prayer) echoes by the room, and the group, bustling with individuals of all completely different ages, backgrounds, and research, pauses to replicate and provides thanks for the blessings of the day.
As I stay up for these previous couple of nights stuffed with prayer, reflection, and togetherness, I’m grateful to have such a particular and significant group right here at Harvard.
Hasan S. Quadri ’25 is a Neuroscience concentrator in Mather Home and a Co-President of the Harvard Islamic Society.
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