Fahim Zaman ’12, like all undergraduates on the meal plan, has unlimited access to dining halls. But most meals, he struggles to find something to eat.
Zaman, a Muslim undergraduate, keeps halal, which means he only eats foods that are permissible according to Islamic law.
The restrictions include not eating pork or pork byproducts, any food prepared with alcohol, or meat from animals not slaughtered in God’s name—these items are haram, or not permissible.
“Sometimes I force myself to eat vegetarian during the week,” he says of his dining hall experience. But most days, rather than be forced into a quasi-vegetarian lifestyle, Zaman eats out in the Square.
Although Harvard University Dining Services has taken some steps to accommodate Muslims in dining halls, some students say the University could do more.
“The Muslim community is growing. There are many more Muslim students than there were a decade ago, or even five years ago,” says Abdelnasser Rashid ’12, a former president of the Harvard Islamic Society. “That’s something that [Harvard University Dining Services] and HIS should be talking about.”
QUESTIONS OF QUALITY
Harvard currently provides a weekly halal dinner for undergraduates in Winthrop on Mondays and a community dinner in Adams on Thursdays.
But Muhammad Hassaan Yousuf ’12 says that the quality of food during the Monday dinner tables has seen better days.
“I’ve seen members of HIS go and they would be unable to eat the meat,” he says. “Sometimes, it would even be raw inside.”
Rashid agrees that there are problems with the quality of the meals.
“The meat, to put it frankly, is often not well prepared. It’s so bad, in fact, sometimes, that it wouldn’t make sense for them to offer it to everyone else,” Rashid says, adding that the food during the Thursday meals in Adams—more popular among Muslim students—is better.
At home, Rayhnuma Ahmed ’14’s Bangladeshi family prepares halal lunches of chicken and beef.
But during the school year, Ahmed is forced to rely on sandwiches, yogurt, and salads.