The Muslim Cultural Union hosted an Iftar Dinner at Ellis to celebrate Ramadan and encourage interfaith conversations within the community on Thursday, May 23. Organized by Muslim Cultural Union leaders Aniya Akhtar, Class of 2020, and Alena Lateef, Class of 2020, the Iftar Dinner brought together over 50 students, families, and faculty for a shared potluck meal. A traditional meal held during the holy month of Ramadan, Iftar dinners are celebratory gatherings for Muslims to break their fast after Maghrib (when the sun sets).
Aniya and Alena chose to host an Iftar dinner at Ellis because they wanted to share their own religious traditions and encourage interfaith dialogue with the wider Ellis community. “It’s important to learn about other cultures and faiths because you better your own understanding of communities that are different than yours,” the duo shared. “It is easy to resent or hate people different from you if you do not know them or why they do something. But if you take the time to talk and listen, then it is much easier to love.”
In addition to sharing a communal meal, Wasi Mohamed, Executive Director of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh (ICP), spoke to attendees about the impact of uniting diverse faith communities and the practices of Ramadan. Recently named one of NEXTpittsburgh's "25 Essential Pittsburghers," Wasi was instrumental in raising over $200,000 for Tree of Life Tragedy victims with the ICP and also serves on the City of Pittsburgh’s Commission on Human Relations and the ACLU of Pennsylvania Board of Directors.
Committed to fostering interfaith engagement at Ellis and outside of it as members of Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, Aniya and Alena are using their powerful voices to facilitate positive change and create a more inclusive and understanding world. Their confidence and determination to shed light on issues of importance to them as young Muslim women not only promotes awareness of diverse cultures and faiths within the Ellis community, but to the entire city of Pittsburgh.