In this era of uncertainty and fear, it is more important than ever to connect with others and reflect on the importance of our shared experience.
#305 Iftar – FIU’s first-ever virtual iftar – did just that.
“As we know, the last two months for everyone have been nothing short of challenging,” said Mohamed K. Ghumrawi, senior program coordinator of the Mohsin & Fauzia Jaffer Center for Muslim World Studies. “But those challenges have really highlighted the importance of community and togetherness.”
#305 Iftar was a virtual take on a traditional iftar – the communal breaking of the fast during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. The event was a collaboration between the Jaffer Center, the FIU Office of Engagement and a number of community groups.
“Although I wish that we could gather in person to recognize our many blessings, I’m grateful that technology allows us to share our thoughts and perspectives,” said FIU President Mark B. Rosenberg as he imparted his blessings. “May this be a period of reflection, community, hope, peace and opportunity.”
Continuing the procession of giving thanks, John Stack, founding dean of the Steven J. Green School of International & Public Affairs, expressed his gratitude for the support of those who were able to make #305 Iftar a reality.
“With this dinner, we honor the holy month of Ramadan and we bring awareness to the global Muslim experience,” said Stack. “Through this event, we learn from each other. We celebrate each other. And, together, we celebrate a more just, peaceful and prosperous world.”
Despite the current circumstances of remote work and learning, there have been lessons and opportunities for growth.
“All the faiths have realized that through this hardship, a very profound change comes through you, where you become more spiritual and connected. And you also become humble,” said physician Mohsin Jaffer, whose transformative gift with his wife Fauzia created the Jaffer Center.
“This is a sensation that really creates a nearness to the creator and to mankind,” Jaffer said. “I’m glad we’ve been having this iftar, and I’m sorry I can’t shake your hands and be with you, but this is the near best thing.”
As a parallel to the growing collective awareness of the global community’s struggle with the coronavirus, the holy month of Ramadan also asks of its participants to be perceptive of one’s community and their shared hardships.
“I don’t pretend to be a religious scholar, but the little that I know informs me that Ramadan is in part a month of fasting, so that we can understand the troubles and tribulations that others go through,” said Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, an FIU alumnus. “We are struggling to feed people in our city because of the fact that our economy has been completely devastated. I think [this iftar] takes on a particularly important meaning for all of us, and it brings us together.”
Mohiaddin Mesbahi, director of the Jaffer Center, made a similar point.
“I think we are facing an enormous challenge socially, politically, economically and emotionally, and the mayor knows it better than everybody else,” said Mesbahi. “The governments around the world, regardless of where they come from … they were not ready to deal with [this crisis or similar crises], and that means that local initiatives, university centers and centers of religious or non-religious orientations have an enormous responsibility and opportunity to jump in and fill the gap.”
The iftar was co-sponsored by the Muslim Jewish Advisory Council, the AJC, the Consulate General of Canada in Miami, the Muslim Communities Association, Global Ties Miami, COSMOS, MCCJ, and the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom.
Saif Ishoof, senior fellow of the Green School, concluded the iftar, echoing that the event was created as a space for members of the South Florida community to bond and reinforce community ties during the pandemic.
“We know that together we can accomplish so much more and it’s times like this that the power of dialogue, convening and knowledge are the things that will unite us,” said Ishoof. “The reality is when we come together one croqueta at a time, one matzoh ball at a time and – yes – one samosa at a time, we can come out of this that much stronger.”
View the full iftar – “#305 Iftar: A Place to Break Bread and Reflect on Community” – below.