Eid al-Adha Reflections

Erva EidThank you President DeGioia for your kind introduction, and for inviting us to this dinner, honoring and celebrating the Muslim community at Georgetown University.

The idea of community, of togetherness, is central to Islam. In ancient Arabia, communities were divided along lines of kinship, as tribal allegiances separated people. This changed when Muhammad (PBUH.) delivered his prophecy.

The revelation of Islam was not just directed at one specific group or tribe. It was meant for all people, and for all times. Further, the message of Islam urged people to focus on religion, and not kinship, as a unifying force to form the Muslim community, known as the Ummah. As Islam spread throughout the globe, and people of different cultures converted, they became bound together through their common faith in God and their adherence to the tenets of Islam.

We can see the legacy of Islam’s early history today within Georgetown Muslim Students Association. The MSA is comprised of people from all over the United States, and all over the globe. We are tremendously diverse in our cultures, political leanings, hobbies, and future career paths, yet we have been drawn together by our faith in the One God.

I am so grateful for this community, not just for the spiritual support that it has lent me, but for the sense of belonging and purpose it has given me as well. I remember my first few days at Georgetown were a bit difficult, as I had not been away from my family before. We arrived days before Eid, and I was incredibly homesick for the festivities associated with this holiday. I also remember that there was rainy weather, quite reminiscent of today, as a hurricane hit at the beginning of NSO. This did not do much to lighten my mood. During this stormy transition period, I found warmth and refuge in the Muslim community. The older MSA members reached out to the new students, through formal programming related to Eid, and informal hangouts, as we explored DC, going out to get ice cream or to go on tours of monuments. All my worries were alleviated, and I realized that I had found a community to which I could belong.

MSA EidAs time passed, I found that I felt this sense of community not just when I was with my circle of MSA friends, but also when I was with my peers, in and out of classroom. I believe that people who choose to study at Georgetown do so because they have certain things in common. For example, many of us have a drive to better the world, to promote social justice, and to be catalysts for change and progress. This call to service is reinforced through values and ideals instilled in us by this institution.

The Jesuit history of Georgetown was not a principle motivator for my decision to attend. But, over the years, the Jesuit values have become one of the most important components of my college experience. We are encouraged to care for the whole person, cura personalis, and also to strive for the greater glory of God, ad maiorem Dei gloriam. While these ideals are based on the Jesuit tradition, they apply to people of all faiths. These values help students understand their call in life and grow in faith. I found that the Jesuit ideals mirrored the messages of my own religion, and I have grown so much as a Muslim while studying at Georgetown.

Here at Georgetown, we are reminded that our studies and our work are not just for our own sake, but also for the betterment of humanity. We are encouraged to see the larger picture, to work toward a common vision of a better tomorrow. We are driven to challenge our preconceptions about others and ourselves. We are inspired to engage in interfaith dialogue and to learn from each other. In these ways, Georgetown shapes us and brings us together, into a community and network of Hoyas.

My prayer for us this evening is that our bonds as a community here at Georgetown remain strong. Allah, please allow us to be a source of guidance and support for one another, providing each other with a sense of acceptance. As we graduate and move forward, allow us to remember that everything we learn at this university is not just for ourselves, and allow us to fulfill our duty to serve as men and women for others. Oh Allah, Bless the food You have provided us tonight. Ameen.

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The following post was a speech presented by Erva Khan (new window), NHS ’15, on October 15, 2014 at a special Eid al-Adha celebration for our Muslim Student Association, generously sponsored by the Office of the President.