Although the Geneseo Muslim Student Association is a relatively small group on campus, the growing interest in its work was strongly felt by the club's efforts to celebrate the Islamic holiday Eid al Adha on Sunday Oct. 20 at the Eid Dinner Extravaganza. The night began with a presentation given by the MSA e-board on the origins of Eid al Adha and how it is celebrated around the world.
The presenters explained that the holiday is derived from the story of the prophet Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son to obey a command from God. To commemorate his dedication, Muslims around the world attend prayers and eat meals in the name of Allah.
After the presentation, professor of Islamic and religious studies at Nazareth College Muhammad Shafiq took the stage to talk about the importance of interfaith dialogue and the essence of family that is embedded in Abrahamic religions.
He discussed the significance of religious tolerance and knowledge of other religions - a message that Vice President of MSA junior Ramsha Ansari said is imperative to the club's mission.
“We have such a small Muslim population on campus,” Ansari said. “Events like this give people a chance to learn from us - their peers, about something they maybe haven't had the opportunity to know.”
At the event, MSA members wore traditional garb and served vegetarian South Asian dishes, including chickpea curry, lentils, white rice, vegetable samosas, curried potatoes and rice pudding - all provided by Campus Auxiliary Services and Impressions Catering.
Ansari said that, although traditional holiday dishes are not actually meat-free, MSA chose to serve a vegetarian meal because CAS doesn't offer “halal” meat options.
“For a meat to be certified halal, certain rules must be followed and prayers [must be] said to make it acceptable according to Islamic law,” Ansari said. “CAS doesn't offer any kosher or halal options - at least as of right now. We hope to see some when [Letchworth Dining Hall] opens up.”
Ansari said she and the rest of MSA are looking forward to making the organization increasingly well-known on campus.
“As Muslims, we know all about Christmas and Yom Kippur, but I don't think most people know as much about our biggest holidays,” Ansari said. “I genuinely have such fun celebrating other holidays, and I just know people would have fun celebrating mine as well.”
Ansari also said that you don't have to be Muslim to enjoy the experience.
“I was actually raised Christian,” MSA's public relations representative senior Tiffany Stephenson said. “But that's what interfaith is all about: exploring different cultures and religions and finding the right fit.”