By Chengez Ali Hussaini
Assalaamu-alaikum and Eid Mubarak (Peace & blessings and a Happy Eid to You). This is the formal way for people to wish friends and family members on the occasion of Eidul-Adha (pronounced EEDUL-AZZA) also known as the Sacrifice Feast or Greater Eid.
The seventh Annual Muslim Student Association (MSA) Eid Dinner commemorating the Eid-ul-Adha holiday took place at the ESU Innovation Center on Friday, Oct. 21, and was set up by student-members of MSA at ESU.
It was set up by the student organization to be a special occasion where people, not just from the Muslim community, can come join in, learn and celebrate in the form of a brief conference explaining principles of Islam, along with a buffet for guests to make the occasion all the more memorable.
The Greater Eid, which is celebrated once a year during the last three days of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, is celebrated in honor of the willingness of Abraham.
Abraham was commanded by God to sacrifice his son to express his obedience. He was rewarded with a sheep as a substitute right before he was to slay his offspring as a reward for his courageous endeavor.
The actual holiday date was set at an earlier date, but the dinner was postponed due to it colliding with the Islamic holiday of the first ten days of Muharram.
This is regarded as the ten days of mourning the martyrdom of Hussein son of Ali ibn Abi Talib (son of Abu Talib, in Arabic) the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.
Muslim community folk and their non-Muslim friends and companions gathered along with some members of the ESU faculty including Dr. Tobin, Vice President of Student Affairs at ESU.
At this time, the ESU Faculty Strike was peacefully resolved after three, tireless days of protest from university professors and staff members alike.
The dinner was then a convenient time for people at ESU to have a chance to relax and spend quality time together after a long, stressful period of protesting.
President of MSA at ESU, Iqra Mahmood, was head supervisor of the event who introduced guests and those who were to deliver speeches onto the podium at the beginning of the party at 7 p.m.
Additional supervision was provided by Dr. Abdullah Aldras, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences at ESU, who helped guide student members in properly organizing and carrying out the necessary tasks in running the party to the utmost convenience.
Prominent representatives of the Muslim community such as Sheikh Mohammad Aglan imam (head and prayer leader) of the Stroudsburg Islamic Center, Muslim scholar Aqil Onque and Rizwan Butt, president of the Mosque in Easton, Pennsylvania, were invited to orate the basic principles of Islam and on the significance of Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca) to guests invited.
Representatives also compared the aspects of Islam with those of the Abrahamic religions Christianity and Judaism by mentioning verses from both the old and new testaments of the Bible and from the Quran, explaining the many similarities.
Sheikh Mohammad Aglan recited verses from the Quran and Aqil Onque translated. Rizwan Butt delivered a speech introducing the pillars of faith in Islam, the emphasis of Hajj in Islam as it coincided with the Greater Eid and the life of Abraham.
Also talked about were topics related to “why is the pronoun ‘He’ used to refer to God in Arabic and the Quran?” “does God have a gender?” “Does God have a beginning?” “Why Abraham and other prophets of God are given emphasis besides the Prophet Mohammad?” etc.
“The masculine pronoun ‘He,’ referring to God, does not represent any negative prejudice towards the female gender but is only mentioned in the Quran as a default pronoun that can refer to either ‘he’ or ‘she’ in Arabic,” stated Rizwan, “And since the pronoun is genderless, therefore God has no gender, for God is unique.”
Furthermore, it was discussed whether or not God had a beginning towards his existence as Rizwan Butt gave reference to the 112th chapter of the Quran Surah Ikhlaas, i.e. the chapter on “Sincerity.”
This interprets the concept of a “beginning” as only a creation of God, and God has no beginning since everything that has a beginning must have an end and therefore God cannot have either.
In order to broaden the horizon for the sake of the overall audience in attendance, verse 13 of chapter 49 of the Quran was mentioned, which helped explain that God created gender and people of different cultures and identities so that we may gain more knowledge about life from each other’s opinions and ideas.
“’….And the most honorable amongst you in the sight of God is the one who is most righteous…’” quoted from the verse by Rizwan Butt “and all that really matters to God in the end is righteousness and being good towards others.”
Guests within the audience were asked questions, such as “how many Muslims are around the world?” to allow audience members to participate in the discussion and to build up enthusiasm.
Rizwan Butt gave reference to the fact that Muslims place emphasis on Abraham and the other prophets that came before and after him.
Likewise, with the reason behind the diversity in the world, we can all learn valuable lessons from the lives of all the prophets that came before the Prophet Muhammad.
After the lecture, Isha prayer (the evening prayer) was offered and so commenced the buffet courtesy of Zaika Restaurant at Edison, New Jersey.
South Asian cuisine, which consisted of fried rice, biryani (steamed spicy rice with chicken or meat), buttered chicken, goat ribs cooked in gravy, spinach and dates, along with vanilla and chocolate-flavored cake, were served by the MSA student members.
Dr. Tobin expressed her time at the occasion, as she was happy and excited with the fact that the various aspects and meanings of Islam discussed and found in the Quran in the Arabic language were translated and well explained to people from all backgrounds.
“It was a very informative dinner,” said Iqra Mehmood, “we had a blast.”
All guests participating in the occasion appreciated the MSA student-members and others who helped make the event possible at the ESU Innovation Center.
I, yours truly, being a member of the MSA at ESU, had a great time as well…. especially with the fact that I earned plenty of leftovers to take home!
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