Muslims of Tainan Get Together to Celebrate Islamic Holiday Eid al Fitr
The celebration was very solemn and stately. The participants hugged and shook hands with each other throughout to symbolize a new beginning. Afterwards, everyone shared food within the warm atmosphere. NCKU president Dr. Huey-Jen Jenny Su hoped that each and every participant would “remember NCKU and remember the respect and equal treatment they have received in Tainan and in Taiwan.” The Muslim students indeed thanked NCKU for valuing Islamic culture.
There are currently about two hundred Muslim students at NCKU from countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Burkina Faso, and France. NCKU holds proper reverence for those practicing their Islamic faith and currently offers small prayer rooms in the Departments of Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Materials Science & Engineering, and Nursing. There is also a larger prayer room that can accommodate up to a hundred people in the Sheng-Li 6th Dormitory. In light of the importance of Ramadan and Eid al Fitr to Muslims, NCKU coordinated with various departments to set up a temporary prayer room capable of hosting over three hundred people in the old library so that Muslim students could enjoy a hub to share these important celebrations with other Muslims in Tainan.
Vice President for Student Affairs Professor Chin-Fu Hung, Associate Vice President for International Affairs Associate Professor Chia-Yuan Chen, and Director of International Student Affairs Division Associate Professor Yueh-Heng Li all attended Eid al Fitr with enthusiasm along with Dr. Huey-Jen Su. Wearing a scarf given to her by Muslim students, Dr. Huey-Jen Su indicated that universities should respect and give their full support to the religious faiths, activities and expressions of each individual. She proclaimed her satisfaction with having been able to meet the needs of Muslim students as president and hopes that all Muslim friends can understand NCKU’s respect for different religions. In Indonesian clothing, Professor Chin-Fu Hung made a special effort to say good morning to the participants in Indonesian and Javanese. His display of sincere communion with Muslims was greeted with cheers and applause.
Since the Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar, Ramadan falls on different dates every year. This year, Ramadan began on May 6 and ended on June 4. The Taipei Grand Mosque announced on June 3 that June 5 would be the first day of Eid al Fitr. At around 7:30 AM, Muslim students and civilians in Tainan began to arrive at NCKU. Many brought their children to introduce the traditions to the next generation. Before the rituals, Eid al Fitr prayers were continuously played through speakers, and many people recited along with them. One could feel their devotion to the faith and the palpably solemn atmosphere. Following the prayers and rituals, the participants then joyfully shared food and drink, shifting the atmosphere into a festive one. Everyone quickly became busy greeting one another and enjoying the food, creating a hubbub of activity.
President of the Muslim Students Association-NCKU Adi Sopyan elaborated on what makes Ramadan an extremely holy month for Muslims. During the 30 days of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn until sunset and refrain from sexual relations. The purpose of Ramadan is to teach Muslims how to learn from the hardships of hunger and practice both self-discipline & the virtues of sharing. For some Muslims, the self-restraint of fasting brings them closer to Allah and gives them the key to paradise.
Current NCKU student and President of Perhimpunan Pelajar Indonesia Tainan Deni Yasmara explained that according to the Qur’an, everyone must get together, greet one another, and forgive one another’s past evils or sins on Eid al Fitr. It is an important event for Muslims that marks a new beginning, as well as a joyful peace. Celebration activities typically include wearing festive clothing, visiting friends and family, sharing good food and spreading good cheer.
Arsanto Ishasi Wibowo, a student of the International Degree Program on Energy in Engineering who attended the celebration, expressed that NCKU’s provision of a venue large enough for two to three hundred Muslims to celebrate Ramadan & Eid al Fitr together was of great significance to Muslims students and showed that the University valued them. Furthermore, the five or six prayer rooms established around the NCKU campus for students to perform their daily prayers “…are very important to students, and we thank NCKU for paying attention to us.”
Islam has over 1.6 billion followers worldwide. A vast majority of the foreign migrant workers in Taiwan are Muslims, but many Taiwanese citizens and residents are still unfamiliar with Islam. To create a campus environment that is friendly to diverse cultures and respectful to Muslims, NCKU established the Muslim Students Association-NCKU as well as prayer rooms of various sizes around campus. In 2017, the Department of History held the “Understanding Islam” special exhibition, and in 2018 the Office of Student Affairs hosted the NCKU World Islam Campus Summit.