By Nicole Marie Edine
When I left my small, non-diverse hometown at the Jersey Shore to attend Boston University, I never would have guessed I would graduate to become an interfaith advocate. In fact, in 2005, the only thing I knew about Islam was that it was somehow tied with civilians from Iraq and Iran. I didn’t hate Muslims or anything, I just never met one. My best friend at Boston University had a friend in one of his classes who invited him to Boston University’s annual Ramadan dinner. He invited me to tag along. Little did I know that this dinner would be a stepping stone into my interfaith life.
Metcalf Hall was decorated simply, yet beautifully with ornate scarves. Around me, students dressed in beautiful salwar kamezes bustled about setting up their last minute touches. On the tables lay a program welcoming us to the event. I was unaware that these bustling students had attended classes all day just as I had, but without taking food and drink.
The program began with the call to prayer, the breaking of the fast with a date, and then a reading from the Quran. After that we waited in line for food. As we were waiting, I looked around to see the diversity of students attending the dinner. Not only Muslim students were present, but their friends who had come for support. Some of my Hindu friends had also joined. Together we sat, ate falafel, and enjoyed each other’s company. Together we learned about Islam, community, and the importance of interfaith understanding.
Ramadan dinner became one of the important dates of my life at Boston University. Many of my non-Muslim friends would ask me at the beginning of the school year: “When is the Ramadan dinner? We loved it last year and we’d love to go again!” My friends and many others learned about Islam by taking part in an open and inviting Iftar. The Ramadan dinner helped me to realize the importance of the interfaith experience: learning about each other, sharing in our diverse cultures, and working together to move forward.