Iftar in Hyde Park

Members of the University of Chicago's Muslim Student Association and Hyde Park neighbors gather for an iftar at Hyde Park Union Church, 5600 S. Woodlawn Ave., on Wednesday night, April 19, 2023.

This Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of prayer, fasting and reflection, the University of Chicago’s Muslim Student Association worked to build community through nightly iftars open to the broader Hyde Park community. 

Beginning on March 22 this year (in Chicago) and lasting until April 20, Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar and commemorates when the first verses of the Quran were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. During Ramadan, most Muslims participate in a day-long fast of food and water that begins before 5 a.m. and ends at sundown with an iftar meal, the Arabic word for “to break.”

This year’s nightly iftars were hosted at Hyde Park Union Church, 5600 S. Woodlawn Ave., and larger than years past, MSA organizers say. 

Tala Malo, a third year undergraduate at the U. of C. and secretary of the MSA, said this year’s dinners often served as many as 150 people a night. Malo says that hosting iftars has been a great way to strengthen ties in Hyde Park’s Muslim community. 

“Many students are not able to be at home during this time and it can be a little isolating to have to break your fast alone,” said Malo. “So when we’re able to see full tables pretty much every night it’s really great … I definitely think just through the practice of breaking bread together we’re able to foster a better community.” 

The MSA’s 30 or so iftars were funded by donations from students and the neighborhood’s wider Muslim community. The halal meals were catered by Hyde Park and other mid-South Side restaurants, such as Cafe 53, 1369 E. 53rd St., and Yassa African Restaurant, 3511 S. King Dr.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.