By: Natalie Bland, Staff Writer
During Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar celebrating the Quran being revealed, Muslims typically fast from sunrise to sunset for 30 straight days. But Friday, April 7, members of the Towson community got a taste for the tradition without needing to commit to the entire month-long ordeal.
Last week’s Islam Awareness Week, hosted by the Towson Muslim Student Association, led up to a Fast-a-thon dinner, wherein participants broke a day-long fast with a large community meal Friday night. Attendees learned about Ramadan, which will begin in late May, and discussed the reality of the Muslim faith, which has become highly stigmatized in the United States and other Western nations.
“Intolerance is due to ignorance,” MSA President Osama Hassan said. “As a public service, we need to spread awareness.”
Guest speaker Robert Tappan, a professor of religious studies at TU, talked about the background of Ramadan and the challenges and joys that are involved. He said he hoped to expand religious literacy among students and the general population, as the number of American Muslims increases.
“It’s crucial for us to know what our neighbors are doing,” Tappan said. “I hope they will have a better understanding of what their friends and peers face during Ramadan.”
Islam Awareness Week was aimed at opening up a dialogue about Muslim faith in the midst of a political climate that has been concerning for many Muslims and Muslim-Americans. Other events included Hug a Muslim Day, Hijab Day, wherein Towson community members could try on a hijab, calligraphy lessons, where Towson community members admired Arabic calligraphy, and a Jummah prayer, a congregational prayer held every Friday afternoon.
“I’m passionate about teaching others about Islam and what it means and what I believe in,” Hassan said.
Notre Dame of Maryland University senior Sarah Arafat is a member of her institution’s MSA. Towson, she said, holds great events.
“I think it’s important to share and support different Muslim groups,” Arafat said.
The MSA welcomes students of all different faiths to attend future events.