September 9, 2010
WOOSTER, Ohio — A campus-wide observance of Ramadan drew community members of all faiths to The College of Wooster on Monday evening (Sept. 6) as Muslim students shared some of the customs and traditions associated with the Islamic month of fasting and reflection, including an evening meal that signaled an end to the day’s fast.
Sophomore Ryan Thomas, a non-Muslim from Carmel, Ind., said he participated because he "thought that it would be fun to take part in another culture." Senior Amanda Keith, a non-Muslim from Columbus, Ohio, not only attended the dinner, but also helped with the service project at Wooster Hospital's GreenPoint Community Garden that preceded the meal.
Buttons with the phrase "Real Americans Don't Burn Books" were handed out at the dinner in protest of the proposed burning of the Qur’an by members of Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., on Sept. 11. In addition, a poster board with reflections by Wooster President Grant Cornwall and the staff of Interfaith Campus Ministries was on display. Among those contributing was Linda Morgan Clement, chaplain and director of Interfaith Campus Ministries, who wrote, “Actions such as these challenge us to look to the best of the world’s religious traditions for resources that will help lead toward a just, sustainable, and diverse global community.
Students Hanna Yousuf and Mohammad Ahmad spoke at the event, revealing their personal experiences as practicing Muslims and what it means to them. Yousuf, a junior from Pakistan, talked about the emphasis that Ramadan puts on acts of compassion, especially in relation to alms-giving, or the Muslim idea of giving to those less fortunate. "It's a month of training," she said. "It makes you stop and think, 'yeah, there are people who are hungry.'" Yousuf also addressed the benefits of Ramadan and the sense of spirituality and connection to God that those who practice it feel.
Ahmad, a junior from Jamaica, shared what it is like to go about his day during the month of Ramadan. “Fasting in a culture that is of another religion is a really unique experience,” he said, adding that classmates, professors, and coaches are mostly unaware of the religious observance that their Muslim community members are participating in, which makes it particularly distinctive. "It is really fascinating," he said, "because it gives you the opportunity to show others your religion."
After a time of prayer and reflection, the fast was finally broken — much to the delight of those who were eating for the first time that day.
Written by Libby Fackler '13
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