Commons was decked out on Wednesday night in flags and lights to host a dinner celebrating the Muslim festival Eid-al-Adha.
Hosted by the Yale Muslim Students Association and the University Chaplain’s Office, the event — which is in its 11th year — attracted about 520 Muslim and non-Muslim students, faculty and members of the local Muslim community. Although the festival was officially celebrated on Oct. 26, the MSA postponed its festivities because it fell during fall break. MSA President Mansur Ghani ’14 said the event began as a commemoration of the religious occasion but has grown to be an inclusive event that showcases Muslim culture at Yale.
“[The Eid dinner] reflects the strength of relationships and the unity in all people of the Yale community,” he said.
The keynote speaker, Haroon Moghul — a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University specializing in Islamic culture, history and religion — said parallels between Christianity and Islam exist in the origins of the two faiths, adding that it is important to see these similarities because of America’s relationships with Muslims abroad and because of the increasing number of Muslims living in the United States.
The event featured a reading from the Muslim religious book, the Quran, by Umar Qadri ’11. Omer Bajwa, the coordinator of Muslim Life in the Chaplain’s Office, spoke about the festival’s meaning and origin in the Muslim tradition as a day of sacrifice. In his speech, Bajwa also described the similarities between Muslims making a pilgrimage of the Hajj and the survivors of Hurricane Sandy because both groups faced adversity.
Kimberly Goff-Crews ’83 LAW ’86, the vice president for student life and secretary of the University, told those gathered for the festival that as the student body increases in religious diversity, agencies such as the Chaplain’s Office can provide students with resources necessary to practice their religion. She added that administrators need to improve their understanding of specific religions and their traditions to make students from different backgrounds feel more comfortable on campus.
Ghani said the event was a “testament to the diversity of the Yale community” because students from many different backgrounds gathered for the festival.
“[Muslim students] want to show their diverse culture to Yale students who are unfamiliar with it,” he said. “And non-Muslims get to experience a taste of that diversity which everyone at Yale is interested in getting.”
Houriiyah Tegally ’16 said she enjoyed the event because it provided her with a sense of community.
Hannia Zia ’16 said the event made her nostalgic because it reminded her of how she usually celebrates Eid back home in Pakistan.
“It’s hard celebrating Eid away from home, but it feels like a family here,” she said.
Zia said she enjoyed the speeches by freshmen and seniors the most because they had demonstrated dedication to the Muslim community.
In the Muslim faith, Eid is celebrated twice a year.