‘We can all be good friends’: Interfaith Council, international students host DSU’s first Eid lunch

(L-R): Dixie State University International Student Services assistant director Tosha Onani, immigration coordinator Allison McMullin and director Shadman Bashir celebrate Eid at an Eid luncheon at Dixie State University in St. George, Utah, May 17, 2021 | Photo by Megan Webber, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The food was sweet and the company was warm at Dixie State University’s International Student Services Eid al-Fitr celebration Monday, the first Eid luncheon ever hosted at Dixie State. 

Dixie State University director of the Disability Resource Center Baako Wahabu speaks about Eid at the International Student Services Eid luncheon at Dixie State University in St. George, Utah, May 17, 2021 | Photo by Megan Webber, St. George News

International Student Services Director Shadman Bashir told St. George News they co-hosted the event with the St. George Interfaith Council to promote openness, acceptance and interfaith harmony. Bashir said he hopes the event will lead to more celebrations and connections with Muslim students on Dixie State’s campus in the future. 

Eid traditionally follows the month of Ramadan, during which Muslims are commanded by Allah — Islam’s god — to fast from dawn until dusk. Dixie State director of the Disability Resource Center Baako Wahabu told attendees at Monday’s event that the day of Eid is believed to be the day that Allah wanted his people to celebrate the milestone they achieved after a month of fasting.

“Imagine not eating, drinking or engaging in a lot of things that keep our bodies nourished for 14, 15, 16 hours,” Wahabu said. “When you fast, you experience how it feels to not have food to eat, and when you feel the way it is to not have food to eat, now you think, ‘Oh, I am lucky. I have extra, and I know some people somewhere who do not have even one square meal a day.”

Another lesson to be learned from fasting is to be attentive to not only what goes into your body but mindful of what comes out as well, Wahabu said. Fasting encourages us to watch how we talk to others and be more respectful, he said. 

Interfaith Council secretary Tim Martin told St. George News the luncheon was an opportunity to learn many lessons. In addition to the lessons of Eid, Martin said there is a lot to be learned from the international students and their stories, adding that there are things the Interfaith Council can teach the students in return. 

An Eid luncheon at Dixie State University featured traditional Muslim desserts and decorations at Dixie State University in St. George, Utah, May 17, 2021 | Photo by Megan Webber, St. George News

“We can all be good friends and be of different religions,” Martin said. “And the reason the Interfaith Council works is because we’re good friends, so take that back to your country. Take that back to your friends to know that we can be friends, we can work together, we can make things happen even as differences exist among us.”

The luncheon also featured a prayer and a buffet lunch that included traditional Muslim desserts, including gulab jaman — balls of fried dough, sugar and milk similar to doughnuts — and gajar halwa — mashed carrots, milk, nuts and honey. The familiar food and the friendly gathering made it feel more like an Eid back home, Wahabu said, which he’s missed. 

The Interfaith Council and International Student Services hope to collaborate on future events and increase inclusivity and presence for Muslim students at Dixie State. The Interfaith Council meets regularly and hosts events year-round promoting harmony, cooperation and understanding between faiths.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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