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With this past Friday marking the start of the month-long holiday of Ramadan, observant Muslim students at Harvard have begun fasting from sunrise to sunset.
To accommodate these students, Harvard Islamic Society (HIS) has organized for a nightly break-fast meal in Ticknor Lounge, specifically catered to Muslim dietary restrictions.
HIS also holds daily Tarawih prayer in the Canaday Musulla.
“It has been really good, really accommodating,” said Deena S. Shakir ’08, a member of HIS. “At night there were literally 120 people in Ticknor Lounge. We stayed there until they literally had to push us out.”
Though HIS has always organized Ramadan festivities, Harvard University Dining Services (HUDS) also helps Muslim students to observe the holiday.
According to Farhana Sharmeen ’07, the campus religious activities liason for HIS, the organization receives funding from HUDS to provide food for these break-fasts.
HUDS will also offer a partial termbill rebate to students who fast for the holiday, in addition to providing special Halal meat throughout the year.
In order for meat to be considered Halal, it must be processed so that the animal’s blood is drained when it is slaughtered.
HUDS always offers Halal hamburgers and hot dogs in its dining halls and provides appropriate meals in Adams House every Thursday throughout the year.
“We do our best to accommodate student’s needs,” said Martin T. Breslin, executive chef of residential dining. “We started serving Halal meats two years ago because of the Islamic Society’s request.”
Even though HUDS provides Halal meats, Sharmeen said following guidelines can still be difficult because students must specially order this food.
“If you’re in a hurry you have to eat vegetarian,” she said.
Still, Sharmeen said, HUDS provides “a lot more than most people get in other colleges.”
Yale University Dining Services just began to offer hot meals to Islamic students at Ramadan this year.
HUDS is also working with HIS to use Ramadan fast to raise money to help fight child hunger and poverty.
HIS is organizing a Fast-a-thon on Nov. 5, during which members of the undergraduate community of all religious backgrounds and faiths are invited to join in fasting.
For each student who participates, HUDS and local business will donate money to the Save the Children Foundation.
“We want the community to get involved with this special month,” said Sharmeen, “we would like people to experience what we do while benefitting the homeless and starving children.”
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