As Sahra Mohamed ’24 and Zenab Ariye ’23 embark on a month of daily fasting and prayer rituals, this year it’s a little easier to celebrate Ramadan, one of Islam’s holiest months, at Concordia.
“After finding out what Ramadan would look like on campus this year, I was grateful that finally Concordia will start to feel even more like home,” Ariye said.
During Ramadan, observing Muslims do not eat or drink from dawn to sunset. Breaking their fasts and eating in community for an iftar meal can be difficult with balancing college classes and dining hall hours. To ensure students can celebrate in as traditional a manner as possible, Concordia College’s Ramadan Task Force — composed of faith leaders, professors, DEI staff, and Muslim students, including Mohamed and Ariye — made several accommodations.
“This has been the most amazing year I’ve seen on campus,” Mohamed said. “With the whole team, there’s been nothing but support for ideas we bring to the table. We can share our opinions and voices and see the plan come to life.”
“It is such a tremendous honor to work with our Muslim students to ensure that they are able to observe Ramadan this semester in a way that honors the dignity and sanctity of the season,” said Dr. Michael J. Chan, executive director for Faith and Learning and co-chair of the task force.
The Anderson Commons dining center is offering to-go options with Ramadan-supportive menu items, including a pita/naan/hummus bar, dates, and dried fruits, as well as halal options. Dining Services is also featuring foods from the Muslim culinary world in the Exploration area.
The Maize grill is open after Anderson closes, allowing students to purchase food once they are able to break their fast, and offering expanded Ramadan-supportive menu items, including nuts, fruit, and halal-prepacked meals.
On Wednesdays throughout Ramadan, the college is featuring vouchers that will allow Muslim students and their guests to eat in Anderson Commons for free.
“This is in the core Muslim spirit of extending hospitality and charity and the core Lutheran spirit of neighborliness,” said Dr. Anne Mocko, professor of religion.
This hospitality voucher program is funded primarily through Campus Ministry, which is committed to serving all students on Concordia’s campus, Christian and non-Christian.
Campus Spaces for Prayer and Iftar
The college has set aside Frida Nilsen Lounge for students to gather every evening of Ramadan for prayer and iftar.
“The feeling is wonderful to be able to come to school, pray, and break fast with other Muslim students and students who want to observe fasting. It is an amazing experience,” Ariye said.
“Students are able to come together and kind of get the feeling of what Ramadan is about, that family connection, being with your friends, and celebrating your blessings,” Mohamed said.
In addition to the Interfaith Reflection Room, additional rooms have been reserved across campus, including a prayer space in every residence hall.
Another effort the task force made was to create an educational campaign for non-Muslim students and staff to learn more about the holy month. This included campuswide communication with engaging materials and informative articles.
“Why do we do this as a Lutheran institution? One of the central symbols of the Christian faith is the table,” Chan said. “It evokes images of hospitality, generosity, and dialogue. The God of the Bible is a God who feeds, nourishes, and provides. We are also called to set an abundant table for neighbors of all types, irrespective of their cultural, ethnic, or religious convictions. We do not do this despite our Lutheran tradition but because of it.”
As Ariye and Mohamed’s efforts have been impactful, the two say they will continue to work to support Muslim students.
“I am more than grateful to have been a part of the Ramadan Committee,” Ariye said. “The amount of support from students and faculty we received is amazing. It speaks volumes.”
The Forum featured Ramadan celebrations at Concordia. Read that story.