The Muslim Student Association (MSA) commemorated the second largest Muslim holiday, Eid al Adha, with their annual Eid Banquet this past Friday, September 21. The holiday typically falls during the end of the summer, shaping it to be the perfect celebratory send-off for the year. Following a massive turnout for traditional halal fare, followed by a presentation on the significance of the holiday, the MSA is certainly off to a great start.
MSA Board Member Aneeb Sheikh, MCAS '20, explained that, “Eid al Adha is a celebration of sacrifice. Prophet Ibrahim was commanded by god to sacrifice his beloved son Ismael. His dedication to god was such that he was willing to do it. So we celebrate this sacrifice and you’re supposed to make a sacrifice in some way.”
According to the Qur’an, the holy text of Islam, God offered a lamb for the sacrifice so the Prophet Ibrahim did not have to sacrifice his son Ismael. As a result, in many families, livestock is sacrificed and used to promote the values of charity and generosity. Oftentimes, the meat is sectioned into thirds. One third is kept for the family, another is distributed to the neighbors, and the final third is shared with the poor.
In many parts of the world, this notion of charity through sacrifice on Eid al Adha is heavily emphasized. Aneeb elaborates on this idea by sharing the story of his cousin back in Pakistan, “who collects the fur of the animals and makes clothes from the fur for the needy.” This practice in and of itself illustrates the holiday's embodied generosity.
As one of the most important holidays for Muslims, Eid al Adha offers an opportunity for unity within Islam. Freshman Bilguissa Barry, MCAS '22, was born in Guinea, a predominantly Muslim country. Arriving to an institution like Boston College was a culture shock for Bilguissa, but she is reminded of home through Eid prayer at her local Masjid and dinner at her grandmother’s house. When reminiscing about her family gatherings, Bilguissa notes that, “Eid is one of those days where I can be reminded of Guinea. There’s a lot that’s different [in the U.S.], but when it’s Eid, I have all of [home] here.”
As dozens of students socialized, the dialogue quickly turned into a nostalgic discussion of Eid memories. For Bilguissa, a rice and okra dish called futi is a family tradition. Rockib Uddin, MCAS '21, immediately brought up biryani, another layered rice dish, when first asked about his favorite Eid tradition. As students shared photos of their favorite Eid outfits and debated the most mouth-watering delicacies, Arab, Bollywood, and American tunes played in the background. Every aspect of the night put into perspective the way that celebrations of Eid are both the same and slightly different across the world. Attendees of the Eid Banquet left with insight into dozens of cultures and traditions, a testament to the inclusivity of Islam and the Muslim Student Association.