West Quad event promotes diversity
As close to 50 students filtered into the West (Green) Quad Learning Center Wednesday evening for the Muslim Student Association’s Eid Festival, they heard a variety of music including Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram’s “Fi Hagat,” Lebanese-Swedish Maher Zain’s “Palestine Will Be Free” and even pop star Miley Cyrus’s “Wake Up America.”
The playlist matched the festival’s main theme, which was less about celebrating Eid al-Fitr, the Islamic celebration of the end of Ramadan, and more about promoting understanding and intercultural awareness.
Umar Gilani, a fourth-year international business student who spoke at the event, also emphasized the need to appreciate individual diversity in addition to diversity in the more traditional sense.
“It’s not just race, religion or culture, but it’s the way you’re thinking,” Gilani said. “Everyone of us is diverse here.”
He also spoke of the need for understanding and accepting such diversity into society.
“We don’t want our culture to be restrained just because it’s not the ‘American way,’” Gilani added, referring to cultures, including Islam, that many believe differ from traditional ideas of American culture.
Gilani’s and others’ presentations posited that Americans’ acceptance and embrace of other cultures is more important now than ever, as globalization, worldwide communities on the Internet and the international scope of environmental issues become increasingly important aspects of life.
But, of course, Ramadan and the celebration of Eid al-Fitr were also discussed over the course of the evening.
Firas Freajah, president of the Muslim Students Association, spoke about the meaning that backs the month of Ramadan and its fasting and prayer. Freajah described it as an opportunity to show devotion, learn self-control and emphasized the sense of appreciation it fosters in Muslims.
That thanksgiving is manifested on Eid al-Fitr, as “they’re appreciating food, [and] they’re appreciating how many people are worshipping with them,” Freajah added.
Students who attended the festival, mostly residents of the Green Quad and members of the Muslim Students Association, enjoyed catering by Al-Amir.
Joe Chen, a political science graduate student, offered an outsider’s perspective.
“There were a lot of things I didn’t know about Ramadan and the Muslim culture, and I learned about them, and there were a lot of things reinforced that I’d learned about the culture,” he said.