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Author: Imam Dr. Ebad Rahman, Religious Life Associate for Muslim Life
Columbia University

One of the most beautiful aspects of the month of Ramadan – the ninth lunar month of the Islamic calendar – is how, after a day of fasting through the daylight hours, people gather together at sunset over a meal called iftar. 

There is something magical about sharing in the experience of breaking one’s fast at the same time as others. Families, with modern hyper-individualized and busy schedules, often prioritize taking a pause to make sure they collectively make time to have dinner together in this sacred time. Islamic centers and mosques, Muslim Students’ Associations (MSA’s) often provide free meals to the community for iftar.

So many people are experiencing the epidemic of loneliness, of just being by themselves in silos, perhaps only attempting to connect with others via “social media” on our phones. As human beings, we are social beings who long for connectivity – connection to each other, connection to the Divine. It is the depth of our relationships which truly bring satisfaction and fulfillment to our lives.

Community doesn’t just happen, but requires some intentionality to foster and build places where people feel welcomed and loved, and want to come back.

As a campus imam, I am blessed to see how meaningful it can be to bring together students and community members in Ramadan to break their fasts, pray together in congregation, and have iftar together while socializing and getting to know one another. Students regularly express how significant it is to be in community, while they are away from their families. Friendships are formed and it is inspiring to see so many manage and even excel in their responsibilities as students while also aspiring to higher levels of devoutness. We gain strength from one another when we come together.

Deep bonds can be forged over a simple meal.  It doesn’t need to be difficult to invite a co-worker, friend or neighbor to partake in the act of coming together. Saffron Road makes it easy to have a simple but delicious meal with little effort on our part. Grab enough products for your guests and share in the rewarding experience of bringing people together. Check in with each other and truly listen, while being conscious of consuming real food, instead of artificial ingredients.

Iftar Meal Prep–and Keep it Simple

This Ramadan many students may be busy preparing for midterm exams –so why put so much pressure on yourself for a perfect meal prep for every iftar. Give yourself a break and without having to spend hours preparing for an iftar. Saffron Road offers healthy, halal, and delicious pre-made traditional Ramadan cuisine options, including Saffron Road’s simmer sauces which allow you to create culinary masterpieces with their Coconut Curry, Pad Thai, Tikka Masala and Sweet & Sour stir-fry sauces, choices to satiate every diverse craving at your dining room table. Or enjoy their frozen dinners that just need to be microwaved for the evening iftar meal. And of course– don’t forget a huge bottle of water! You can order Saffron Road’s products for home delivery by ordering items ahead of time online on Amazon, Whole Foods Market, Instacart, Shipt, Thrive, Walmart, Peapod, Fresh Direct and many others.

About the Author

Imam Ebad(ur) Rahman memorized the Qur’an as a sophomore in high school. He completed a four-year pilot seminary program at Zaytuna Institute in the San Francisco Bay Area. Ebad then earned his B.A from New York University, with a concentration on Islam in America. In May 2021, he successfully defended his Ph.D. dissertation on contemporary works of Qur'anic interpretation in the Religion Department at Columbia.

Headshot of Imam Dr Ebad Rahman

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