The Scarlet & Black

The Independent Student News Site of Grinnell College

The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Feven Getachew
Feven Getachew
May 6, 2024
Michael Lozada
Michael Lozada
May 6, 2024
Nathan Hoffman
Nathan Hoffman
May 6, 2024
Harvey Wilhelm `24.
Harvey Wilhelm
May 6, 2024

EID Brings Grinnell Community Together

Students, faculty, staff and townspeople gathered last Sunday to celebrate Eid al-Adha, a Muslim holiday which celebrates sacrifice, faith and charity, in the Quad. Organized by the Muslim Student Association (MSA), the event featured a dinner and members of the student group speaking on the importance of the holiday.

“For me it’s one of the greatest ways for Muslim students to come together and to show other people what Islam is about,” said MSA organizer Fatemeh Elahi ’12.

Eid marks the end of the Haaj, which is the pilgrimage to Mecca, and the beginning of the Muslim lunar calendar. Also known as the Festival of Sacrifice, the event commemorates the story of Abraham and his willingness to sacrifice his son, Ishmael, after receiving a message from God.

“For me one of the most important parts of the story is that Abraham seeks council with his son first and that Ishmael shares his father’s faith,” said Mustafa Hammouda, a local resident who attended the dinner. “Yet when Abraham goes to sacrifice his son, as the knife is on his neck, the angel Gabriel arrives and says that they have demonstrated their faith and that they should sacrifice a goat instead.”

In keeping with the story, many Eid celebrations serve goat or lamb.

“It was really important for us to have meat to go along with the story,” said Mariam Asaad ’14, another member of MSA.

The lamb is an important symbol of Eid, both in the way it is treated and the meal that it provides. The organizers arranged to purchase a lamb from B and B Farms run by Barney Bahrenfuse and Suzanne Castello. B and B Farms raise grass-fed, free-range, humanely raised meat.

“Its an honor to be involved, it draws us into a new tradition and it’s wonderful the way that a very different mood had been created tonight. It’s transported us,” Castello said.

“Eid a great way to connect with the students,” Bahrenfuse concurred.

Bahrenfuse and Castello provided the lamb, but another local community member prepared it. MSA reached out to local restaurateur Kamal Hammouda, owner of the Café Pheonix, who took responsibility for cooking the main dish.

“I processed the lamb,” Hammouda said. “The story for me is about faith and that’s really what the whole season is about. To me this day is about reflection on life and what it means.”

“Kamal is the Muslim Student Association’s Prayer Leader so he’s always been very involved with us and helpful with all of the Eid celebrations we’ve had in the past,” Asaad said.

Indeed, the cuisine was a major draw for the dinner, which quickly sold out of tickets.

“The food was delicious!” said attendee Noah Tetenbaum ’12.

Other than lamb, MSA served traditional South-Asian foods catered from the Taj Mahal restaurant in Cedar Rapids. The banquet included yogurt salad, samosas, daal, malai kofta, vegetarian biryani rice, naan and kheer, which offered many students a taste of home.

“The majority of the reason why I came is because away from home you feel deprived of your culture and care about it more,” said SGA Assistant Treasurer Raghav Malik ‘13. “This is not about religion, it’s about culture to me.”

Eid is about spreading good faith and sacrifice. Traditionally the meal is divided up into thirds, one third for the family, one for friends and one for charity. This year the MSA chose to donate to Islamic Relief USA.

“We decided upon Islamic Relief because we know it’s doing a lot of hands on work in Somalia,” Asaad said. “We also wanted to donate to them instead of other charities because, let’s face it, in the West, Muslims don’t really get great publicity and on our part we just wanted to draw attention to this great and credible charitable organization.”

After the dinner, many attendees began dancing in the Quad and some members of MSA offered henna tattoos to the guests.

“I was very pleased that at the end they thought about having a dance and they made it possible for people to participate,” said Professor Mervat Yousseff, French and Arabic. “This is what I think religion should be about, it’s another time to celebrate, not just a celebration of one group. What makes it a celebration is that you have other people participating.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *