“What’s There to Eat?!”: Ramadan Edition

Category Student Voices

Author

Maryam, HFAI Coordinator
Maryam Guerrab Class of '25
Authored on May 09, 2022

Article

This spring, I observed my first Ramadan away from home. Although I was initially worried about experiencing Ramadan on campus, I had an amazing time celebrating the holiday with the Harvard community.

Ramadan, a holy month of fasting observed by Muslims worldwide, began on April 1, 2022. Hundreds of Muslim students across campus fasted from dawn until sundown every day. In the weeks leading up to the beginning of Ramadan, many of my peers and I were concerned about how we would eat suhoor every morning (a pre-dawn meal eaten before 5:00 am) and for iftar every night (a meal to break our fast eaten at 7:30 pm) considering the dining halls would be closed at this time. However, for both suhoor and iftar, meals or ingredients were provided by the Harvard University Dining Services (HUDS).

Suhoor:
The College provided two options for students to have suhoor. The night before suhoor, before the dining hall closed, students could access individually packed and ready-to-eat breakfast foods which included a bagel with cream cheese, hand fruit, Chobani plain yogurt with honey, hard boiled eggs, trail mix, and rotating snacks. The second option students could request was ingredients to cook a hot breakfast. This option included eggs, cheese, cut veggies (peppers and onions), breads and bagels, cream cheese, a plant-based breakfast sausage, fruit, juice, and yogurt. In addition to these provisions, additional funds could be requested from the College in order to buy other foods (such as halal meats, pancake powder, dates, etc.). In each house, there were designated students who volunteered to cook suhoor for the other Muslim students (shout out to the students in Mather who were cheffing it up everyday!). For the first-years, hot breakfast was cooked every morning in Thayer Hall. Afterwards, a group of us would pray Fajr together in the Thayer basement or make the two minute trek to the Canaday musallah (prayer space). On the 27th night of Ramadan, a few of us organized a large suhoor for about 30 members of the community. HUDS was incredibly helpful in providing us with the necessary ingredients and resources to pull it all together. With a bit of pre-planning and organization, it was a huge success!

*The first years accessed additional funds through the First Year Funds and a few upperclassmen accessed funds after communicating with the Deans and Tutors of their respective houses.

Iftar:
Every night, a community iftar would be provided at the Student Organization Center at Hilles (SOCH). This iftar was open to all members of the Harvard community (undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and their families). At each iftar, there would be a different cuisine (such as Mediterranean, South Asian, Soul Food, etc.). The food was provided through HUDS’ specialty catering (another big shout out to them). Every week, students would need to RSVP through a sign up survey that would be sent out. Upon arriving at the SOCH, we would break our fast with dates and water, pray Maghrib as a group, and then eat! These communal iftars were a great time to meet new students who you otherwise would not have. This community gathering was open to all, as Muslim students brought non-Muslim friends as guests. Also, the iftars frequently had special guests from the University such as the President of Harvard University, Dean of Harvard Law School, the Dean of Students, and Resident Faculty Deans! After iftar, there would be Isha prayer followed by Taraweeh. For students who couldn’t make it to the SOCH, they could request a to-go container from the dining hall to create a plate to eat after sundown. Whether students chose to eat at the SOCH or grab from the dining halls, there was always food provided for iftar for fasting students.

Looking back on Ramadan, I have incredibly fond memories of wearily rolling out of bed to cook chocolate chip pancakes, laughing with other first-years as we almost burnt our food/the building, and building a strong sense of community during the nightly iftars. I am excited to eat suhoor and iftar and celebrate Ramadan with the Harvard community next year!

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  • Residential Life
  • Student Life

Maryam Guerrab Class of '25

Hey y'all! My name is Maryam Guerrab and I'm a first-year student living in Thayer. I'm interested in studying Government, Data Science, and Economics, with a citation in Arabic. I'm a first-generation, low-income student originally from Raleigh, North Carolina!

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Maryam, HFAI Coordinator