New student organization celebrates Eid al-Adha

Even though the holiday actually took place Oct. 4, the newly-formed Saudi Student Association set up an event Saturday, Oct 18 to mark its passing. Many people gathered in the Gold Rooms for food and entertainment.

By Andrew Wernette

A community celebration for the Islamic holiday Eid al-Adha was held in the Oakland Center this past weekend.

Even though the holiday actually took place Oct. 4, the newly-formed Saudi Student Association set up an event Saturday, Oct 18 to mark its passing. Many people gathered in the Gold Rooms for food and entertainment.

Eid al-Adha commemorates the willingness of the biblical character Abraham (“Ibrahim” in Arabic) to sacrifice his son Issac for God, a story which is recognized in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It also marks the end of the period when pilgrims travel to Mecca, the most holy site in Islam.

Muslims normally unite with family for the holiday, also partaking in prayers and feasting.

It is not to be confused with the earlier Eid al-Fitr, which happens following the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Decorations and Saudi Arabian flags adorned the tables and walls of the room. Saudi Student Association president Humam Abusitta greeted guests once everyone was seated.

After an opening Islamic prayer, a number of people spoke about the new student organization and what they hoped it could be. This included the Dean of Engineering, Louay Chamra, who explained that he was ethnic Lebanese with Saudi roots. He praised the formation of the association.

“This is where we share your culture,” Chamra said. “This is where we share your values.”

Chamra went on to encourage those in the crowd not to be demoralized by how Islam may be portrayed in today’s media. He told them to remain proud of who they were.

“Be yourself, always be yourself,” he said.

David Archbold, Director of the International Students and Scholars Office and a key figure in the organization’s creation, echoed Chamra’s message of social resilience.

“If you don’t define yourself, others will define you,” he said.

It was then time for entertainment. Children participated in a running game and each received a candy prize. Adults were encouraged to join a large game of charades, with prizes being restaurant gift cards.

Guests then partook in the buffet, which included fattoush salad, tabbouleh, hummus and a Saudi Arabian specialty called Zurbian.

One of the guests was Kiali Curtis, a junior.

“I heard about it ‘cause I work in the [International Students and Scholars Office],” Curtis said.

Curtis said that she was attending the event because she had missed the real observance date due to a family emergency.

Curtis’ friend Asma Eij sat next to her. Eij, a graduate student from Tunisia, explained that this was her first Eid away from her family.

“You can compare it to Thanksgiving,” she said, emphasizing the giving spirit that usually accompanies the holiday.

In Tunisia, she said, a lamb is sacrificed and a portion of its meat is given to the poor.

Abusitta gave his own explanation of Eid.

“We all get together, especially family,” he said. “We get together and have a great meal and enjoy each other’s company. Having each other beside each other is a wonderful thing. That’s what Eid is all about: family.”

Abusitta was the founder and president of the Saudi Students Union at Lawrence Tech University before he came to Oakland University. He said that he was also proud of creating this organization, which became official only a few weeks ago.

“Every single time I start one, I feel that we are getting to a higher step in communication and better values with the American culture,” he said. “That’s where we’re trying to head.” We are more than happy to share our culture with other students and universities, and other cultures.”

Daniyah Alaswad, the organization’s liaison to female members, also praised the group and its efforts.

“I am representing the women in this society,” she said.

Alaswad said she figured she would be able to connect better with women and include their voice in the organization’s functions.

For more information on the Saudi Student Association, contact President Humam Abusitta at [email protected] Those interested can also join their Facebook page and find them on Grizzorgs.