Muslim Student Associations host historic dinner

Fairfax, McLean and Woodson High Schools hold first joint iftar

With the holy Muslim month of Ramadan coming to a close, the Muslim Student Associations (MSAs) of McLean, Fairfax, and Woodson High Schools came together to host a historic joint dinner on Friday, April 29. Fairfax High School’s MSA hosted the event with over 100 attendees and featured a speech from school board member-at-large Abrar Omeish, who is openly Muslim.

“I remember being a student not that long ago and feeling ‘other,’” Omeish said. “This is the first time FCPS is having an iftar [dinner at sundown to break the fast] like this, and I wanted to be here to commemorate that.”

The event came as MSAs have grown in size around the school district, supercharged by increased awareness in schools and a greater sense of pride in the Muslim community.

“In past years, we haven’t been very active,” said Mazan Elsir, president of Fairfax High School’s MSA. “We didn’t really have many events that could bring together our members, so we thought at this event, people could connect and feel closer to their religion.”

Fairfax’s MSA considered having its own individual iftar and inviting students in the district to join, but decided to collaborate with other MSAs instead. It is not the first time that the Fairfax MSA has branched out to other schools; when a Fairfax High School student’s hijab was forcibly removed, it connected with other MSAs in the school district to spread awareness.

“We saw that other schools were asking [students] to come, but we thought maybe we’d get a higher amount of people if we actually collaborated with other schools, instead of just asking them to come to our iftar,” Elsir said. “We asked if anyone wanted to join, then [the McLean MSA] said they’d be interested, and Woodson came on after that.”

Students mostly prepared the large-scale event, notably the MSA leaders. They arranged for Omeish to visit and brought food for the dinner.

“It was mainly planned by the Fairfax and McLean MSAs,” said Ibrahim Omeish, treasurer of the Woodson High School MSA. “We helped make a SignUpGenius with them, we coordinated with the sheik for the prayer…it was very well thought out.”

Students from the three MSAs hope to continue hosting joint iftar dinners in the future. The organizations’ leaders have already cemented a loose plan for next year.

“InshaAllah, we’ll do this annually with the three schools,” Ibrahim said. “Hopefully next year we can host it, then next year McLean can host it.”
Omeish also hopes the joint iftar continues into the future, but has also pledged to look into expanding the event beyond just three high schools.

“I’m inspired by the student leadership who did this,” Abrar said. “Now I’m thinking, maybe we can have a county wide iftar, maybe we can work with the next superintendent to set something up, beyond a local level.”

MSAs have flourished as a safe space for Muslims in a tumultuous, politically charged year. The organizations’ leaders hope they can continue their momentum and develop new traditions that Muslims across the school district can participate in.

“We’ll keep uplifting the MSAs,” Ibrahim said. “We’ll keep having these historic events and be the first to do all this stuff, and hopefully carry it on from generation to generation.”