On Wednesday, Sept. 14, Michigan State University (MSU) Culinary Services co-hosted a dinner in honor of Eid ul Adha, the second of two Muslim holidays celebrated worldwide each year. The event was held at The Vista at Shaw Hall, one of nine residential dining halls on campus.
This significant holiday commemorates accomplishment and serves as a reminder of when Ibrahim (Abraham) was willing to sacrifice his son to God, according to Islamic belief. Eid ul Adha is celebrated with family, parties and traditional food.
The Muslim Students’ Organization (MSA), who collaborated with Culinary Services to organize the event, was proud of how it turned out and excited by how many people showed sincere interest. “Holding this event was a ground breaking and legendary moment for the MSA”, shared Zunerah Syed, director of networking and organizational development for the student organization and a senior majoring in interdisciplinary studies, human capital and society. “It helped us see all of our hard work and efforts unfold and be successful right in front of us.”
In addition, MSA Director of Social Programming Yousra Hamidou, a freshman majoring in human biology, shared that one of the biggest accomplishments the association helped put forth was the networking and interaction between international Muslim students. “International students cannot go home often, especially to celebrate Eid ul Adha with their families; co-hosting a dinner with Eat at State helped us bridge the gap between Muslim students and help them feel right at home,” she said. “It was also very exciting to see people of other faiths come out and genuinely take interest in the Muslim culture."
“It’s important that we create spaces on our campus for people to come together and have a sense of community,” said Guy Procopio, director of Culinary Services at MSU. “Offering our dining halls for events like this helps unite the students, as well as the faculty and staff, so they feel comfortable sharing their traditions and culture with each other and the MSU community.”
Served out of the Main Street venue, the event featured roasted leg of lamb, basmati rice, fattoush salad, goat biryani, date cookies and baklava. Corporate Chef Kurt Kwiatkowski and River Trail Neighborhood Executive Chef Kevin Cruz collaborated with the MSA to develop the evening’s menu.
Lamb and goat are both traditional food served during Eid ul Adha. The goat was combined with biryani, a popular mixed rice dish often served with spices, rice, lentils, meat and vegetables with its origins among the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent.
“Goat is challenging to work with because it is very lean,” Kwiatkowski said. “I adjusted our current biryani recipe for the use of goat and made sure we marinated the meat overnight and kept a close eye on it as we were cooking it. Chef Cruz and his team also took extra care for the lamb in the seasoning and cooking processes to produce a perfect roast.” Both protein dishes were well received by students attending the event as well as other curious diners who saw them on the menu and tasted the unique options. “The goat biryani turned out to be even more popular than we imagined, and we’ll be looking to add this recipe into the normal menu mix in the future,” Kwiatkowski shared.
During the celebration, men, women and children are expected to dress in their finest clothing to perform Eid prayer in a large congregation in an open waqf ("stopping") field called Eidgah or mosque.
Affluent Muslims who can afford it also sacrifice their best halal domestic animals as a symbol of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his only son. Allah has given Muslims power over animals and allowed them to eat meat, but only if they pronounce His name at the solemn act of taking life.
The meat is mostly given away to others, keeping with the preferred method of the sunnah of Prophet Muhammad of dividing it into three parts. The family retains one third; another third is given to relatives, friends and neighbors; and the remaining third is given to the poor and needy. The regular charitable practices of the Muslim community are demonstrated during Eid ul Adha by concerted efforts to see that no impoverished person is left without an opportunity to partake in the sacrificial meal during these days. The sacrificed animal, also referred to as Udiyyah (meaning “the sacrificed” in Arabic), must meet specific rules, which include being of a certain age and of the highest quality available.
Eid ul Adha lasts for up to three days. It is a time for prayer, sharing meals, handing out gifts and wishing one another well. The underlying importance of this celebration is the spirit of sacrifice (qurbani) in memory of Abraham's great act of faith many centuries ago.
Because the Islamic calendar is based entirely on the phases of the moon, Eid ul Adha can fall at any time of year, so the dishes prepared for the event were more seasonal than unique to Eid.
Culinary Services is a department within the Division of Residential and Hospitality Services at Michigan State University. For more information, visit eatatstate.msu.edu, like Eat at State on Facebook and follow @eatatstate on Twitter.