Iftar celebration

First-of-its-kind Ramadan event hosted by OUWB med students draws from across Michigan

An image of students at the Miftaah Iftar event

OUWB alumni and medical students (except for the baby) pose for a picture at the Miftaah Iftar event. (Submitted photo)

OUWB, Oakland University, Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine

icon of a calendarJuly 6, 2022

icon of a pencilBy Andrew Dietderich

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A group of students from OUWB recently hosted a first-of-its-kind event during Ramadan, drawing about 150 Muslim medical students from across Michigan to gather in metro Detroit for networking and celebration. 

The event took place at the Warren-based Miftaah Institute, which describes itself as “an open and inclusive environment for people seeking Islamic knowledge.” Miftaah Institute was co-founded in 2017 by Muhammad Waheed, M.D., ’22, OUWB.

It was co-hosted by Miftaah and Muslim students from OUWB.

Waheed says the event was intended to provide Muslim medical students a way to connect with each other.

“Medical students come to OUWB from all over the country, and many don’t have a community or family here,” says Waheed. “The purpose of this event was to let them know they do have a family here, a community…and get them to network with each other.”

Ramadan is believed to be the month during which the Quran was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.

Muslims generally engage in more active worship, and fast from dawn to sunset.

According to Pew Research, eight in 10 Muslims say they fast during the holy month of Ramadan.

Muslims fast from all water, food, and medications. Fasting is considered obligatory for all observant Muslims. Depending on when Ramadan occurs, the fasting period can last up to 16 hours a day.

This year, Ramadan was April 2 to May 1.

The daily meal in which Muslims end their fast is called Iftar.

The idea for the Miftaah Iftar — held April 17 — came from Sazid Hasan, a rising M3 at OUWB.

He says the idea was to get Muslim-based student organizations from various medical schools together in one place. (OUWB has a chapter of the Muslim Medical Student Association.)

“The thing is, all of these organizations function independently, as little islands,” says Hasan. “The idea was to bring them together and form communities and networks.”

An image of a student at the Miftaah Iftar event

OUWB medical student Shahrukh Naseer attended the Miftaah Iftar event, where he was able to network with other medical students from around the state. (Submitted photo)

Hasan says Miftaah covered the cost of food. Dishes served included biryani, chicken curry, naan bread, and Adeni chai.

The organization also donated the use of the hall for the event.

Waheed says the event falls in line with the two primary goals of Miftaah: education and community service.

“We thought it would be a great blend to host the medical students who obviously care about their education, but also about community service,” he says.

Waheed also served as the keynote speaker for the event where he stressed the importance of Muslims staying together “to help give a better message of our village.”

He added that “it’s not just about education, and not just about religion.”

“It’s also to really set the tone for these students to know that they’re not just Muslims, but they’re Americans as well,” says Waheed.

About 150 people attended. In addition to OUWB, students came from Michigan State University, Central Michigan University, University of Michigan, and Wayne State University. Hassan says promotion of the event generally was done through word-of-mouth and social media.

“Medicine is all about these connections…when you do research, when you go to conferences, and events like this,” says Hasan.

Hasan says it also helps strengthen unity, or ummah, among Muslims.

“It goes two ways…we’re a medical school community and all working toward the goal of becoming physicians, and at the same time, we’re Muslims,” he says. “It’s just combining the two spheres.”

Going forward, Hasan says he expects OUWB students to continue leading the charge for the event that he expects to be held annually.

“We not only have the connections, but we have a relatively high Muslim student population compared to other medical schools in Michigan — and we tend to be more active,” he says.

Waheed says he envisions the event being held every year “and that eventually they’re not just going to be Muslims getting together to break fast.”

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