MSA speaker informs students about Islamic culture
As of last year, the Muslim Student Alliance(MSA) has been a club that fosters conversation and context of what it is like to be a Muslim student at St. Paul Academy and Summit School as well as a ally in the community. To further this discussion of identity and culture, MSA hosted Christina Ferdous to speak and outline these topics on Sept. 28 in Bigelow Commons.
Ferdous has worked with the Islamic Resource Group for three years. This organization is a non-profit educational based group that targets the public in hopes to inform them about Islamic culture and the lives of Muslims. Ferdous began her speech by differentiating between Eid-ul-Adha which is the celebration that commemorates Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, and Eid-ul-Fitr which occurs at the end of Ramadan.
“As Abraham was going to sacrifice his son at the last minute, he was replaced with a ram or a sheep. In commemoration of this [during Eid], Muslims will slaughter some type of animal to remember Abraham’s willingness to put God’s will above his own,” Ferdous said.
While opening the audience to questions, students and teachers were able to ask about the religion and the specific differences between the two Eids. Ferdous described Eid-ul-Adha as being more dominant due to its significance revolving around the pilgrimage to Mecca.
Eid-ul-Ahda is considered the major of the two [Eids] because it has such a religious significance. This pilgrimage is another requirement of a Muslim who is physically and financially able to go. It can be a very physically demanding, you circumnavigate the kaaba seven times which is three miles. People tend to concentrate on doing the prayer and doing the sacrifices. I’ve noticed it’s not as quite of a party type celebration as Ramadan is when we finish the fasting,” Ferdous said.
Fasting is a detrimental aspect of Ramadan, and Ferdous depicted fasting as a privilege and rightful duty of a Muslim during Eid-ul-Fitr.
“For most of us Muslims, we’re happy to fast, it’s another one of those instances where it’s what we believe God asked of us. Even if we are feeling hungry, we feel empathy towards people who aren’t as fortunate to have what we have,” Ferdous said.
Further on into her speech, Ferdous expressed her reasoning for converting to Islam while she was in college. During a World Religions course in college, her professor had their students find the actual texts from each religion, such as the Bible, Buddhist scriptures and the translation of the Quran. She credits this class and meeting new Muslim people in her college years as leading her on her path to Islam.
“I was not raised Muslim, I converted in college. For me, I was not raised in a real religious household. I would generically say that we were Christian. As I got into college, I started searching, I was taking a World Religions class. After studying it [Islam] for several years I decided that it most closely aligned with what my own innate belief was. I looked back at my relationship with God, and how I felt about Him most closely fell with Islam,” Ferdous said.
Ferdous conveyed a powerful message of understanding of Islam and how the core messages can be useful to anyone, not just Muslims.