‘Filling in the gaps:’ Amplify Muslim Voices hosts second annual Iftar

Dinner celebration unites community, raises awareness
‘Filling in the gaps:’ Amplify Muslim Voices hosts second annual Iftar

“We may not know what is beyond, but we can see in each other’s hearts that we are the same in our dependence on the Earth and on God’s creation. This can be our foundation of how to get along.” With these words, Amira Quraishi, the Muslim Chaplain at Wellesley College, addressed Upper School (US) families at the school’s second annual iftar dinner on April 5.

Amplifying Muslim Voices Club (AMV) Co-Presidents Aleeza Riaz and Alex Mohsen (both ’25) organized the event to celebrate iftar, the evening meal during the month of Ramadan when the day’s fast is broken. After the celebratory iftar dinner, Chaplain Quraishi adressed the room. She began her speech by sharing some memories of attending a Muslim sleepaway camp as a child and reflecting on how prayer created community.

“When we heard the call to prayer, we would hurry to the prayer area and fill in the gaps between the
lines,” she said.

Beyond the literal, “filling in the gaps” refers to the importance of supporting and valuing every member of a community, she said.

“I was standing next to the most annoying person in my sleepaway camp in prayer, and I realized when we are standing side by side, I am no more important than she is, and she is no more important than I am,” she said. “Everyone together is a
community whether you see them or not. What in your heart stops you from seeing someone as equal to you?”

Head of School Jennifer Price, one of the faculty members who attended this year’s iftar, agreed with Chaplain Quraishi’s call to recognize the value of community, she said.

“I appreciated what the speaker said today about fi lling in the gaps and standing shoulder to shoulder. Especially at this moment in our world, we need to fi ll in the gaps, and we need to stand shoulder to shoulder.”

Dr. Price also noted the importance of continuing to hold an annual US iftar dinner because it allows students of all backgrounds to feel represented and included, she said.

“As the speaker said, there were two Muslim kids in her entire school, so I hope for our community, for our parents, for our students, being able to see that there are a number of Muslim-identifying families in the school helps the students and the families feel like they really belong here,” she said. “I absolutely hope this tradition continues.”

Aleeza said the iftar dinner provided a great opportunity to increase awareness about Ramadan and the lives of Muslim students in the US.

“This event is important for the larger school community because there is, to some degree, a lack of consciousness about what being Muslim is like at the school. And so even if people aren’t attending the event, with all of our publicity for the event—the assembly announcement we gave with a brief overview of Ramadan and Eid—more people understand what being Muslim is.”

For AMV faculty advisor and US Arabic Teacher Amani Abu Shakra, Ramadan isn’t just a month of fasting but a time for her to spiritually, physically, and emotionally reset, she said.

“It’s a time to be focused on things other than the mundane,” she said. “It’s a time of discipline for me. It’s a closer connection to God and to things that we tend to forget every day because we’re busy with life. It slows me down and gets me to think differently about life. Even if it’s for one month, I enjoy that exercise.”

Ms. Abu Shakra was also pleased with the event’s attendance, she said.

“I think we had a great turnout,”she said. “I think there was a lot of enthusiasm about having this space here since this is a very new thing for the school. It’s only been the second year. I think there was just really positive energy in the room, just being together and building that community.”

In addition to faculty, many non-Muslim students attended the dinner to express their support and learn. Although Ramadan may not have any personal significance to Alec Bailey ’26, he appreciates how the month promotes real, human interactions, he said.

“I think eating is a very communal thing in human society,” he said. “I think it’s good that human compassion and human feelings always come out over food. That’s part of our cultural history, and if everyone’s eating, everyone’s having a good time.”

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