CDS creates options for students celebrating Ramadan

Many of the dining halls are staying open late for students celebrating the holiday.
Take-out food shelves are stacked in the Emporium on Thursday at Plaza 900.  Campus Dining Services is providing take-out and late-night dining services during the month of August to accommodate for Ramadan.

Ramadan, an important holiday for Muslims and characterized by a month-long fast during daylight hours, began July 31 and continues until Aug. 29. For Muslim students across the MU campus, however, partaking in the traditional holiday presents one key issue: finding food after sundown.

“The Ramadan calendar is 10 days earlier each year, meaning it moves back ten days into summer every year,” Muslim Student Organization Vice President Mahir Khan said. “The days were way longer this year than they were three, four or five years ago. At the beginning of Ramadan, we had people fasting for 15 or 16 hours a day.”

To remedy the situation, MSO and Campus Dining Services worked to implement late-night and takeout options. This accommodation aided Muslim students in breaking their fast after sunset.

The services, which started Aug. 19, included to-go boxes, upon request, at Dobbs, Mark Twain Market and Rollins. Late night options were also made available at Baja Grill, Sabai, Emporium, Rollins Late Night, Time Out and Huckleberry’s, all of which are open until 11 p.m., with the exception of Rollins, which is open until 1 a.m. A final option included full breakfasts, lunches and dinners, which could be bought at Emporium.

“I have received an email back from the president of the Muslim Student Organization thanking us for the hours of service,” CDS Associate Director Steve Simpson said. “The surprising thing is that non-Muslim students like late night hours just as much as what Muslim students need it to accommodate the religious holiday, so it’s a win-win situation for everyone.”

The accommodation is not only a hit for non-Muslim students, but it is also proving to be a success for those celebrating the holiday.

“Having these later hours makes it possible to fast normally throughout the day and break the fast and get necessary meals again after sunset,” MSO spokesman Rafa Nizam said.

In addition to extending the dining options, MSO has also been organizing events to help Muslim students support one another and celebrate the holiday. The early arrival of Ramadan this year has catalyzed the cancellation of some events.

“A lot of it happened during the summertime, so a lot of people were at home doing their own thing,” Nizam said. “Because of that, there was not much going on. In previous years, when Ramadan came during the school year, we would have a ‘Fasthaton’ to raise awareness and to help students of other faiths and beliefs to come and try fasting.”

In replacement of past events, MSO has instead focused its attention on planning a celebration dinner at the end of the month. The event, which is scheduled for Aug. 31 from 7 to 9 p.m., will feature food prepared by local Muslim families and vendors, such as Olive Café and Casablanca.

“It’s kind of like Christmas for Muslims,” Khan said. "We have presents and everything. It’s open to all members of MSO. One, it’s to celebrate that Ramadan is over, but also, it is our first major body assembly, so we’re going to get a lot of housekeeping things out of the way.”

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