The Mills student body is famously and fantastically diverse, not only ethnically but religiously. Several of us adhere to the religion of Islam, and have just finished observing the holy month of Ramadan, where we refrained from eating and drinking from sun-up to sundown.
Fasting helps Muslims become closer to God, readjust their spiritual selves, and empathize with the poor and hungry. We refrain not only from sustenance, but we are meant to take advantage of this time to stop our bad habits, be good to other people, donate to charity, and educate ourselves about our religion. Ramadan is incredibly important to Muslims, and is also the month when the Qur’an was revealed to the prophet Muhammad.
Ramadan is also traditionally a very family-oriented time of year. Growing up, Ramadan was a time when almost every day, we were invited to dinner at a family friend’s house, or someone was invited to ours. It’s a time of too much food, ironically enough, and wonderful company. My mom always made enough for double the actual amount of people.
So we’ve had to make a few adjustments when fasting on campus. Instead of eating with family, we eat with each other. Not only does this make us Muslim Mills women much closer, it also is a great way to share the spirit of the month with our friends and peers. Many don’t have a lot of first-hand experience with others who are fasting, so it’s a good feeling to be able to share our personal experiences, and reveal a little insight towards a different way of doing things.
Our small but sturdy club on campus, the Muslim Student Association (MSA), aims to do precisely that. It’s not only a place where Muslims on campus can get together and form ties of solidarity, it’s also a chance for anyone interested in Islam, or interested in religion at all, to experience something new.
The MSA is accepting not only of Muslims, but of anyone with a few questions to ask. We hope to encourage dialogue not only between Muslims and non-Muslims, but among all sorts of people of all sorts of different belief systems.
Last year, we organized several events, the most successful of which was the Fast-A-Thon. The Fast-A-Thon is an event where the Mills student body can live a day in our shoes, and sign a pledge saying they will fast for one day.
In return we provide a fantastic free dinner, generously donated by a local Middle Eastern restaurant, comprising delicious food from around the globe. Not only that, but for each pledge submitted, other local businesses donated one dollar to the charity of our choice. Last year, we donated to the Palestinian Relief Fund.
This year’s Fast-A-Thon took place on Monday, Sept. 29, the proceeds of which were given to this charity.