JCU Students and Faculty Participate in Virtual Ramadan Iftar

On Tuesday, April 20th, a group of John Cabot Students and faculty participated in a virtual iftar with the Istituto Tevere, a Rome-based center promoting interreligious dialogue among people of all faith and no faith in Italy, Europe, and the Middle East. An iftar is a meal eaten by Muslims after sunset during Ramadan.

The director of the Institute, Cenap Aydin, began the evening with a presentation on the holy month of Ramadan, which millions of Muslims around the world are celebrating this month, and shared with the group about the spiritual practice of fasting, prayer, and alms-giving that are central to the month, as well as the daily, evening iftar, in which Muslims break the fast and enjoy a time of celebration and conviviality together.

virtual iftar

Professor Driessen and JCU students during the virtual iftar

JCU Professor Michael Driessen together with other JCU students offered reflections on fasting across different religious traditions, as well as the evolving meaning about fasting acquired within more secular societies, such as the tradition of “Meatless Mondays” for the environment or the health practice of “intermittent fasting.” The group ended the evening by listening to the call for prayer (adhan) at sunset before Muslims traditionally break their fast with a glass of water and some dates.   

Professor Driessen is Associate Professor and chair of the Department of Political Science and International Affairs at John Cabot University, Rome, where he also co-directs the University’s Interfaith Initiative. His research focuses on the role of public religions in Catholic and Muslim societies, and he teaches courses on Religion and Politics, Middle East Politics, and War, Peace, and Conflict Resolution. In Fall 2021 he will be teaching PL 265 Politics of the Middle East, PL 329 Religion and Global Politics, and PL 470 International Affairs Senior Seminar.

The Istituto Tevere has regularly hosted John Cabot students for past iftar mealsoften together with students from Professor Ibrahim al-Marashi’s course on Italy and the Middle East, when Ramadan has fallen during the summer months. Both students and the Istituto looked forward to eating together again soon.