BY SAUMYA SUDHIR ’17 & DAPHNE KIPLAGAT ’19
The Muslim Students Association (MSA) held their annual Eid dinner event last Friday at Chapin Auditorium. Along with the large number of Mount Holyoke students in attendance, a significant number of Five College Students also attended the event.
The event commenced with recitations from the Islamic holy book, the Qu’ran. After the recitations, Mount Holyoke College’s Muslim Chaplain, Elizaveta Lozovaya, was welcomed on to the stage.
Lozovaya gave a short speech on the importance and significance of Eid: “Eid al-Adha is the inspiration for all Muslims to trust in the Creator and to demonstrate their love to Him not only by words but by deeds. During the special time of Eid al-Adha, the concepts of sacrifice and sharing become even more central for those who follow Islam.”
Lozovaya went into further detail on the history of the festival, explaining, “When Abraham demonstrated the utmost piety in his obedience to God’s will, all humanity was blessed by that powerful reminder of how we should put aside our egos and fears and give the way to hope and patience. Eid al-Adha is about the internal reflection on sacrifice on all the levels of this concept. It is also, according to the tradition of giving charity on that day, about sharing your gifts with your family, friends and the needy.”
Sarzah Yeasmin ’17 explained what she found most significant about celebrating Eid on campus. “Given that we come from different cultures but celebrate the same day as Muslims, it was important to be in one place to strengthen the sense of solidarity and affinity that Mount Holyoke already fosters, which makes it a home away from home,” Yeasmin said.
The speaker of the night was the 22-year old Sudanese poetry editor, Safia Elhillo. According to the description on the official Facebook page for the event, Elhillo is also a Cave Canem fellow, a co-winner of the 2015 Brunel University African Poetry Prize and the winner of the 2016 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets. Elhillo recited a poem about the current situation of Islamophobia in the United States. She spoke about how Muslim women are struggling to follow their faith, yet she has decided not to stop practicing her religion.
Yeasmin shared her view on Elhillo’s poem: “[It] is revolutionary and brings out the moments of struggles that Muslims and Muslim women face in this tumultuous times when their bodies are highly scrutinized and her spoken word is not only thought provoking but relatable on a personal level.”
That the event drew so many students from Mount Holyoke College and beyond was significant. “Celebrating Eid al-Adha on campus has been a tradition for many years, and it goes without saying that besides the religious practice of commemorating Eid, this event serves as a powerful tool of community building and bonding. My personal aspiration is that celebrating Eid al-Adha on campus will be a learning experience, as in the recent political climate, such kind of the outreach is critical as it helps us to build bridges and to come together,” Lozovaya said.