Ramadan is considered a holy month celebrated all over the Muslim world. The start and end of Ramadan are marked by the sighting of the moon. On May 27, Muslims began the journey of fulfilling one of the five pillars of their faith, Sawm (fasting), which prevents them from taking any food, drink, or sexual relations from dawn until dusk.
They are also encouraged to increase good deeds, which includes praying, strengthening family ties, keeping good relations with people, exercising patience, and purifying one’s heart. It serves as a month-long training to hopefully carry over these practices throughout the rest of the year.
Although there are only two Muslim students currently enrolled at the Asian Institute of Management, the Student Association (SA) initiated the Ramadan Iftar event last June 23 at the SGV 1 conference room. Aratrika Samanta (MBA), SA Secretary, said that the event was “a symbol of AIM’s ongoing tradition of supporting a harmonious, inter-cultural, and diverse community of students.”
The event started at 6:30 p.m., attended by over 70 students from three graduate programs, namely: Master in Business Administration (MBA), Master in Development Management (MDM), and Master of Science in Innovation and Business (MIB). The opening remarks was given by SA President, CJ de los Santos (MBA). Arnold Cararag (MDM), the night’s emcee, entertained the crowd with his quips and shared a little bit of his background, being raised in a half-Christian, half-Muslim family. A short welcome message was given by our beloved Professor Juan Miguel “Mike” Luz, who emphasized the importance of respect for people from all faiths. His presence as one of AIM’s esteemed faculty was widely appreciated by the students.
A short audio-visual awareness program followed, wherein the audience learned about the essence of Ramadan and its significance in the Islamic faith. A presentation highlighted the end of Ramadan with the celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr. Finally, the adhaan (call to prayer) was played with the English translation of the Arabic phrases shown on the screen, which signals the start of iftar (breaking of the fast). A short fun quiz on the videos was carried out, with five lucky winners going home with special prizes.
Beef and chicken kababs, as well as vegetable curry from Mister Kabab were served. Dates from Saudi Arabia, a customary iftar staple, were available for the guests to try. Crystal Anievas (MDM) relates how she “loved the food and fellowship.” She also felt happy “knowing the English translation to the call to prayer which I used to hear everday in Dubai.” Similarly, Sampath Batalla (MBA), “found the call to prayer informative and food was tasty.” Leonard Cruz (MIB), who was also one of the organizers, felt that it was “a great experience, knowing more about Ramadan – why and how it is practiced.” He also enjoyed the chance to talk to people he usually comes across in the campus. Papia Ferdousi, a Muslim student from Bangladesh, “appreciated the school’s efforts in giving a chance for fellow students to learn more about Islam.”
Another student, Dongwei Tan (MDM), took a step further by experiencing fasting in Ramadan first-hand. He took his suhoor (early morning meal before 4:00 a.m.) and fasted for almost 13 hours. According to him, “I felt hungry especially during lunch time, but it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I liked iftar which is about sharing food with people. What I learned from fasting is the importance of discipline and the happiness in sharing.”
As the students dispersed, taking a much-needed rest at the end of a grueling school week, the spirit of Ramadan was felt by each one of us: that of peace, tranquility, and harmony. Just as the sun sets to end the day, so shall it rise to give light once more. With this initiative, AIM continues to be the beacon of light of unity amidst diversity; a principle that is much-needed in this world full of uncertainty.
This article was written by our guest writer, Nur-Ainee T. Lim (Student, Master in Development Management 2017).
Photo credits: Prof Mike Luz and Aratrika Samanta, Student, Master in Business Administration 2017.