Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
This year’s Ramadan Dinner, sponsored by the Muslim Student Association, was held last Tuesday night in upper Tarble. The dinner was held in honor of Tariq Fischer, a Swarthmore student who was killed in an automobile accident in July 2004. His mother, Asma Fischer, who donated generously in Tariq’s memory to develop the Islamic Studies department, was present at the dinner.
Kaukab Siddique, Tariq’s uncle and a professor at Lincoln University, also attended the dinner. “I remember spending Ramadan with him [Fischer] last year. To me, Ramadan means having awareness, being conscious of what’s going on in the world, and having compassion for all people,” Siddique said.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Muslim calendar, and the fast of Ramadan traditionally lasts for the entire month. Muslims believe that the revelation of the Qur’an to the Prophet Muhammad began during the month of Ramadan.
Gabriel Ramirez ‘10 is one Swarthore student who fasted for Ramadan. “For me, it [fasting] wasn’t too bad. It involves fasting from sunrise to sunset, and I have fasted for Ramadan before,” he said.
Andrea Cornejo ’10, found that fasting made Ramadan especially meaningful for her. “It really made me show appreciation, not only for food, but for many material things. It made me think about everything I have. Also, I felt the experience was heightened by the feeling of solidarity from fasting with my friends,” she said.
Before dinner was served, guest speaker Imam Muhammad al-Homsi read a few verses from the Quran on Ramadan, and spoke on the meaning of this religious observance. “Ramadan is a wonderful opportunity for people to change and for Muslims to get to know their own religion,” he said.
Al-Homsi also talked about the importance of Islamic Studies departments in colleges and universities. “Understanding of Islam is vital, especially for a liberal arts education. Islam has a very rich history, culture, and a beautiful way of thinking,” he said.
Closing out the dinner was a performance by Baba Ali, a part time comedian who poked fun at racial profiling in airports and hostility towards Muslims post-9/11. Aside from performing, Ali creates educational comedy films on Islam with the group Ummah Films.