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IFTAR@USM: USM COMMUNITY AND LOCAL RESIDENTS BREAK FAST TOGETHER ON CAMPUS DURING RAMADAN, MADE POSSIBLE BY USM’S PUSAT ISLAM TO STRENGTHEN UKHUWAH

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USM PENANG, 28 March 2024 – Throughout the entire holy month of Ramadan, the USM Pusat Islam (Islamic Centre) offered meals for ‘iftar’ (breaking of fast) every day to its campus community (students, staff and their families), as well as the surrounding communities in all three campuses and at the Advanced Medical & Dental Institute (IPPT) in Bertam.

This is a 40-year-old tradition practiced by USM's Pusat Islam, and at the USM Main Campus, around 2,000 to 2,500 people can be seen breaking their fast at the Al Malik Khalid Mosque compound since the first day of Ramadan.

USM Ramadan activities committee chairman cum the Deputy Director of Pusat Islam, Ustaz Zayd Zahari said that the programme is aimed at strengthening ukhuwah (brotherhood bond) among the campus community and with the local residents, including the non-Muslims.

“We have more than 300 volunteers comprising of the campus community and the general public, working together in the spirit of 'gotong-royong' and togetherness according to the daily duty roster, to prepare the iftar meals.

"Our workforce is divided into three teams, which is the team for preparing iftar ingredients, the preparation of raw materials such as the washing of chicken and meat (including cooking), and the team for serving food at the mosque.

"All preparation work starts as early as 10.00 am every day because we prepare food in large quantities," he added.

“One unique feature that has been in practice for many years is the non-Muslim students also volunteered and helped in preparing and packing the food for iftar.

"This is to give opportunities to non-Muslim students to experience the preparing of iftar meals, as well as to strengthen relationships with one another,” he said.

Meanwhile, on the preparation of the menu, Zayd said it was determined by a special committee made up of USM's own staff.

"The menus that are served up are different every day. Among the menu items that have been served are tomato rice, nasi hujan panas, nasi minyak, ayam masak merah, chicken kurma, and meat curry.

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“Alhamdulillah, all the food cooked for the day will be fully distributed so that there will be no wastage," he said.

Zayd said further, those wanting to enjoy the food for breaking of fast can either break fast communally at the mosque or to take home the prepared food.

“For those opting to bring back food to their desasiswa or home, they are encouraged to bring their own food containers to fill in the food prepared.

“This is also part of the Green Ramadan campaign that the Pusat Islam is introducing for the first time this year to encourage the practice of reducing waste and using resources responsibly,” he further explained.  

In terms of funding to run this programme, Zayd said it was made possible through the generous contributions from the public, USM staff and students.

"For staff, they can have their salary deducted every month under the salary deduction system, of which the staff can choose the amount to donate.

"We also receive funds from the public, local residents and the students themselves.

“Every year, the collection is very encouraging and this further strengthens the spirit of our team to continue preparing iftar meals at the Al Malik Khalid Mosque," he added.

Text: Tan Ewe Hoe/Photo: Shahnizam Ab Rahim 

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