Posts tagged Muslim students

Is halal food available at Bennington for Muslim students? What about a prayer room or mosque? I have heard that there is a lot of islamphobia. Although I do not wear a Hijab or cover up, I do not eat pork (non kosher/halal food) and like going to the mosque once in a while. Will this be frowned upon at Bennington? — Asked by Anonymous

Hellooo, so you are also on Team Halal! Rest assured, our Dining Hall folks got your back. Even though I am one of the few students who requested halal food options, they made sure to accommodate us from day one and there is halal meat available for us at lunch and dinner. Other than that, the range of vegan and vegetarian options is huge so there will always be something for you to eat, whether you’re eating in the Dining Hall or the Student Center or some campus gathering.

 

Unfortunately, we don’t have a designated prayer room or mosque on campus, but you don’t really need that to pray anyway and you will find many, many quiet spaces on campus (and off-campus) for it if you need to. This year, a bunch of us got together and celebrated Bakra Eid with the Williams College MSA and it was a result of interested Muslim and non-Muslim students getting together to organize the effort since there was not much that happened last year. There is also enough interfaith activity happening (and growing) on campus with the Interfaith Group (here’s David Black talking about it) so that you will have a strong community of people from various faiths sharing their experiences. The Interfaith Group holds a meeting every Friday and has been hosting a speaker series for a while. Recently, Amer Latif from nearby Marlboro College spoke about the concept of The “Other” in the Quranic Worldview, and tomorrow, Fr. Justin Lanier, the new reverend up at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, will be coming to deliver a talk on Contemplation and Social Justice: Who Do You Say I Am? Then there was Sam Watts, a recent graduate, who set up a Sacred Space in Bennington as part of a project to advance interfaith dialogue on campus. In fact, my Plan is centered on Islam and conflict resolution in law, politics and international relations. Sooo, lots of academic and non-academic activity and dialogue going on whether you believe in nothing, everything, one god or several. In my experience, at least on campus and around town, there has been no Islamophobia or religious discrimination — instead people are either knowledgeable about Islam or curious to find out more. Anyway, feel free to write to me at malihaa@bennington.edu for more about this and we can continue the conversation there.

 

— Maliha ‘14

This past weekend, students at Bennington College happily celebrated Eid-ul-Adha, a Muslim event celebrated around the world centered on family, community and feasting. A bunch of us were invited to a special congregational Eid prayer service at Williams College where we were delighted to meet other Muslim students from around the world. Chaplain Bilal Ansari, who heads the Williams Muslim Students Association and organizes various faith-based programs there, also invited us to an Eid feast at his house. Finally, we rounded off the celebrations with a Pakistani-food themed Eid brunch back in Bennington!

We dressed up in fancy traditional clothing (we’re talking kurta pajama, Moroccan shoes, lensi) and feasted on some amazing food (including haleem and masala chai and parathas). We also had a great interaction with the diverse Muslim community at Williams College, which we’re hoping to sustain beyond this event by working on creating opportunities for collaborative work in the future. Happy Eid everyone!

-Maliha ’14 (with help from Chernoh ’15)

NB: These pictures are from right after the prayer service. What about the feast and brunch pictures, you ask? Well, we don’t have them since Chernoh diligently captured and then proceeded to lose all the pictures from the feast and brunch events.