By Peter J. Suter
The Critical Middle Eastern studies department, in accordance with the Interdisciplinary Studies department, opened their doors to the CCSF community on Wednesday, Sept. 12 to hold an Eid al-Adha, or Festival of Sacrifice, for those interested.
When walking into professor Ameena Jandali’s Introduction to Islam class, you were greeted by the faint smell of incense and inviting music that sang, “eidun sa’eed,” an Arabic phrase meaning, “let’s enjoy this happy day.”
Jandali, who was wearing a festive hijab, welcomed guests as they arrived. Students and faculty from various departments and backgrounds stopped by to celebrate and learn.
A buffet of Middle Eastern food was provided — granted you got there on time. Salmon, dolmas, tabbouleh, baklava and fresh dates were among the scrumptious choices.
“Eid al-Adha is a sacred day of sacrifice, going back thousands of years of the same exact celebration, creating a tradition for Muslims across the world,” Jandali said. “Today’s celebration is a microcosm of our community.”
After most of the food was gobbled up and guest settled in, the lights were dimmed and a slideshow about the celebration was shown.
In the presentation, Jandali spoke about the Hajj, which falls on the same month as Eid al-Adha in the Islamic calendar.
The Hajj is an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, the holiest city for Muslims, and is a mandatory religious duty that must be carried out at least once in a lifetime by all Muslim adults who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey, described Jandali.
Later, Janey Skinner, professor in the Health Education Department, spent a few minutes talking about the Critical Middle Eastern/Southwest Asia and North African (SWANA) studies certificate. Skinner jokingly said of the 16 unit certificate, “it takes longer to say it than to complete it.”
According to the City College website, the program appeals to a diverse group of students, including international students who are planning careers in the Humanities and Social Sciences with a focus on the Middle East/SWANA.
In a time of growing anxiety surrounding the Trump travel ban — which affects several predominantly Muslim countries — the need to understand our Muslim countrymen and women is considerable.
Neela Chatterjee, professor of Islamic art (800-1800 A.D.), said about the Muslim community, “this culture is open and welcoming[…] The antithesis of what people are exposed to in the larger media.”
The celebration embodied the hospitality within the Muslim community and was an opportunity for the Middle East/SWANA department to educate others on its rich culture.