Students celebrate Eid to commemorate the end of Ramadan with prayer, food and community events


Sama Ben Amer/The Daily Northwestern

An event hosted by the Muslim-cultural Students Association last month to break fast. Community members prayed the evening prayer in the courtyard of Parkes Hall.

Caroline Brew, Assistant Campus Editor

Students gathered on the Lakefill Monday at dawn for Fajr, a prayer performed before sunrise, to celebrate Eid al-Fitr — the holiday that marks the end of Ramadan.

“As soon as you pray the sunrise prayer, we all started eating to symbolize the idea that we’re no longer fasting, and we took a bunch of pictures together,” Weinberg freshman Mustafa Ismail said. “This is just the beginning of Eid.”

The night before, Muslim-cultural Students Association, South Asian Students Alliance and Pakistani Students Association hosted a celebration for Chaand Raat, also known as the Night of the Moon. Eid began Sunday evening and ended Monday evening this year.

Eid begins with the sighting of the new moon, which Ismail said made the event difficult to plan, because they couldn’t confirm the beginning of Eid until a few hours before the event.

At the Sunday night event, which coincided with the new moon’s rise, the group provided South Asian snacks, henna and jewelry. Ismail described the event as a “pre-party” in preparation for the next day. While Chaand Raat is primarily celebrated in South Asia, Ismail said a wide range of students attended.

“We were able to get people who were of South Asian descent, people who are Muslim, people who weren’t Muslim and people who are not even a South Asian descent, so it was really unified,” Ismail said.

After the sunrise prayer on the Lakefill, students gathered in Parkes Hall wearing formal attire from their respective countries. The tradition is for people to wear their best clothing on Eid to pray and listen to a sermon, Ismail said.

“It was interesting to see what the very best looks like from different countries like Iraq, Sudan, Egypt, Morocco, Pakistan, Turkey,” Ismail said.

After listening to the sermon, students enjoyed a free brunch hosted by Habibi In Mediterranean Grill. The Eid celebration ended Monday evening with a Lakefill bonfire where students chatted and roasted smores. Ismail said Eid usually ends with a large party, and the bonfire was reminiscent of this type of event.

SESP sophomore Yasmeen Rafee said she chose to go home for Eid because she lives only 30 minutes away from campus. Rafee’s family went to her local masjid in the morning for a congregational Eid prayer. Her family then attended parties hosted by the Malaysian American community within their hometown.

“The connection of celebrating either at home or with your family is completely different,” Rafee said. “There’s no experience that’s better than the other, but my personal preference, I would rather be with my family every year as much as I can.” 

As co-president of McSA, Rafee still helped plan a lot of the Eid programming. Recognizing that most students are unable to return home, she said she hoped McSA was able to foster that sense of community on campus.

“What I think that McSA strives to create is a community that’s open to everybody — everybody’s celebration and practice of religion, whether that’s on campus or off campus,” Rafee said. “We hope to create a home for all students.” 

For Weinberg freshman Omar Sharaf, this was his first Ramadan celebrating away from home. Growing up, he said he did not have a large Muslim community of people his age. 

While he said he felt homesick not being able to celebrate with family, he said he was grateful for the Muslim community at Northwestern. 

“In one way, I did miss out on my family, but in another way I majorly gained a social Muslim community that I didn’t have at home,” Sharaf said.

In addition to becoming closer to the Muslim community on campus, Sharaf said he also feels closer to his religion and spirtuality. With Ramadan coming to an end, Sharaf said he wants to continue reflecting on the values observed during Ramadan going forward.

Ismail also said he hopes to carry the spirit of Ramadan past the end of Eid, with the help of the community.

“Doing it all with my friends … it built a connection where we would hold each other accountable in terms of maintaining all of these good habits and staying away from the bad habits,” Ismail said. “There was a sense of camaraderie with all of it, and I hope that’s something that could last throughout the year until the next Ramadan.” 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @carolinelbrew

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