Katie Rakocha

Members of MSA pose for a photo after their prayer.

Muslim Student Association Hosts Niles West’s First RamaDay

Apr 24, 2023

Inspired by Maine East’s Ramadan celebration, Niles West’s Muslim Student Association (MSA) hosted our first RamaDay on April 14. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset and break their fast when it turns dark. It’s a time for those celebrating to reflect, discipline themselves and sympathize with the less fortunate. The act of worship is also a way to grow closer to their religion. The holiday ends with Eid, a celebration to end the entire month of fasting. Students fasted all day and participated in Iftar (breaking of fast) together at sunset in the cafeteria.

Not only did Muslim students and staff participate in RamaDay, but non-Muslims were also invited to participate, something that MSA hasn’t done before. With around 200 people taking part in the event, the intention of RamaDay was to connect Muslims and non-muslims within the Niles West community.

“The goal is to have non-Muslim members of our school community try fasting for one day, which our Muslim students do between 29 and 30 days, just to get an idea of what that feels like and also spread information and education about what Ramadan is,” MSA sponsor Daniel Kosiba said.

During the day, MSA and volunteers set up a henna station outside the cafeteria. After school, an informational presentation was shown by student leaders before the feast. Games, raffle tickets and merchandise were available for people to partake in. A prayer service was also done before Iftar. Those who attended the feast were provided with food from halal and Muslim-owned restaurants in the area, as well as food from China Chef in Morton Grove to help support them after being targeted for Asian hate during the pandemic.

It was a busy day for MSA, who spent over a month planning RamaDay. During this time, they figured out decorations, where to get food from, what spaces in the school were available and how to go about reservations.

“To prepare for [RamaDay], we had tons of spreadsheets and tons of meetings, about twice a week. It was a lot but it was worth it,” junior and MSA board member Asma Patel said.

Students had a fun time at the event, especially celebrating with their non-Muslim peers and practicing interfaith.

“I enjoyed seeing a lot of my friends and a lot of people that don’t fast, I enjoyed seeing them here too and celebrating with us,” junior Afra Abdul said.

“I think it was nice that there was so much community here and that so many people came to support the event. They showed their support by showing up and engaging with all the activities,” junior Laiba Navaid said.

“I think that Ramaday was a very well-coordinated fun event and day. This year was Ramaday’s debut at Niles West and I personally felt like it was really fun and went well! What I enjoyed most about Ramaday was the after-school iftar. The food was very good and the programs they had were super fun,” sophomore Aqsa Ali said.

MSA is appreciative of all the support and help they’ve received in planning RamaDay. Thank you Muslim Student Association and others involved for a wonderful night!

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