Eid al-Fitr provides opportunities for education, collaboration and celebration

The Elon community gathered to mark the end of Ramadan together

The McBride Gathering Space of the Numen Lumen Pavilion was packed with students, faculty, staff and community members on the evening of Wednesday, April 17, to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, the holiday of the Breaking of the Fast.

More than 120 guests of all ages gathered for food, fun and fellowship, as together they learned about the ways Eid is celebrated, the values of Eid and the different festive foods that are eaten in Muslim communities around the world.

Three multifaith interns from the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life – Rachel Curtis ’24, Rocco Albano ’26, and Alex James ’25 – led the educational presentation. The guests also heard words and stories about the holiday from Associate Chaplain for Muslim Life Imam Shane Atkinson, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies Sumeyye Pakdil, President of the Elon Muslim Society (EMS) Hasan Khan ’26.

“Each year during our Eid Festival, I am struck by the sincerity of those that attend,” Atkinson said. “The discussions over food, in the henna tattoo line and in the days following the event are rich and rewarding. It is one of the highlights of the year to celebrate Eid and deepen relationships with members of the Elon community.”

At the event, Khan spoke about the values of Eid, and why celebrating Eid al-Fitr on Elon’s campus is important for many reasons.

Members of the Elon Muslim Society.

“To me the most important value of Eid is community, and the essence of community during Eid is many-faceted,” he shared. “Regardless of background, ethnicity, or social status, all are welcome to join in the festivities. This inclusivity is a testament to the universality of Islam’s message of peace, compassion, and brotherhood. It’s a time when differences are set aside, and the common humanity that binds us all is celebrated.”

The Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life hosts a series of religious festivals throughout the year to celebrate the many religious, spiritual, and ethical identities present on Elon’s campus, and to educate the community about diverse holiday traditions. These events are planned by the Truitt Center staff with the support of the cohort of multifaith interns.

This year, cross-campus collaborations with the Truitt Center led to a record number of events throughout the month of Ramadan. During Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to dusk, and break their fast with a meal called an Iftar. During Ramadan this year, there were numerous events held on campus to educate the community about Muslim traditions, break bread together, and create opportunities for dialogue, community building and connections.

For Multifaith Intern Rocco Albano ‘26, who helped plan the event, it was an amazing experience.

“I think what really made this event special was the amount of community engagement we had, with so many people showing up to talk, to learn, to share a meal, and just to come together as a community for a special day,” Albano explained.

More than a dozen guests from the Burlington Masjid joined students, faculty, and staff at the event, and as the attendees shared a meal and discussed the values of the holiday at their tables, children ran and played, filling the room with the sounds of their laughter and games.

Joy is one of the values of Eid, and one that the event organizers wanted all attendees to experience at the festival.

“On this day I ask you all to be happy,” Khan said. “Eid is a day to be joyous and excited. It is a day that is filled with jokes and laughter. A day full of compliments and bright smiles… On this day make an effort to forgive those who may have wronged you, and ask for forgiveness to those you may have wronged. And perhaps through this we may all be happier and more peaceful going forward.”