Close to a hundred individuals from the UP Muslim community that include students, faculty members, administrative and security staff attended the month long Iftar Program held at the Romulo Hall. The program was sponsored by Diyanet, a Turkish Foundation, in partnership with the IIS.
Mr. Taskin, a representative from Diyanet Foundation, who visited the IIS last June 22, 2016 and took part in the Iftar, expressed his pleasure at the successful implementation of the program. He shared some information about other projects of Diyanet Foundation and further requested those present to pray for Turkey with regards the issues it is facing today. After a group photo, Mr. Taskin left to catch his flight to Cebu.
Friends of the IIS and long-time partners in interfaith dialogue, like those coming from the Focolare movement and Maryhill School of Theology also joined the Iftar. Other friends from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs were also around. UP students— like those staying in the dormitories and those taking up PhD in Tri-College program—were also invited. For these students, iftar also became an opportunity to learn about Muslim culture. One Tri-College student asked me, “Is it a common thing to invite non-Muslims for the Iftar?” “Yes, I said, because the more exposure, the lesser the bias.” They praised the hospitality and the food served; some even claimed it was their first time to taste Muslim cuisines which they found appetizing.
A group of Indonesian exchange students under the UP National Institute for Science and Mathematics Education also attended. Dr. Soledad A. Ulep, the Director of NISMED herself introduced the group to IIS Dean Prof. Macrina A. Morados. The students were pleasantly surprised to know that Dr. Jamel Cayamodin, the College secretary of the Institute, speaks Bahasa. They were also happy to discover a Maranao version of Rendang, a popular Indonesian dish, as part of the menu being served. We made sure that the group would feel at home and they will not forget their experience when they return to Indonesia.
IIS partners for the Iftar of the Muslim women inmates in Camp Karingal have grown this year as other groups also joined. This includes the Australian Muslim Community (c/o Mr. Saleem Habibullah), the Embassy of Qatar in the Philippines, whose Embassy representative made a surprise visit to the IIS to hand over the funds, and the Embassy of the UAE in the Philippines in partnership with the Emirates Red Crescent. All in all, a total of seventeen days iftar was made possible through their help.
Another attraction in this year’s Iftar program was the inclusion of the 2016 IIS Recognition Day held on June 24, 2016 at the Balay Kalinaw, UP Diliman, Quezon City. National Commission for Muslim Filipino Commissioner Analiza “Aisha” Flores-Malayang, an IIS alumna, was the guest speaker. The graduates, honor students and their parents got a surprise gift from the Institute and its partners. They were given prayer rug, prayer clothing for women, hijab, Qur’an with Filipino translation. These gifts were provided by Mr. Sadoun Alowayesh, a Kuwaiti national, and his lovely wife, Mrs. Zainab Hainto. Additional gifts of dates were also available and distributed for iftar, and also to constituents of the UP community. These dates were donation from Qater Embassy (25 boxes) Saudi embassy (5 boxes) and the MCMF (3 boxes).