Op-Ed: "God and Man at Yale" By: Eboo Patel

December 15, 2008

Author: Eboo Patel

Source: Middle East Times


The commons at Yale University looked like a cross between Hogwarts and Medina. Over 500 students, staff and faculty had gathered for a university-wide iftar, the meal where Muslims break their dawn-to-dusk fast during the month of Ramadan. Linda Lorimer, Yale's vice president, gave an opening talk, expressing the university's commitment to religious inclusivity and interfaith activity.

Omar Bajwa, the university's recently-hired coordinator of Muslim life, thanked Yale for its efforts to accommodate the unique dietary and prayer needs of Muslim students.

And when the Muslims left the dining area for the evening prayer, most of the seats were still occupied. Hundreds of Jews, Sikhs, Christians, Hindus, agnostics, Unitarian Universalists and others had come to support their fellow Muslim students, partake in some excellent South Asian food and celebrate the religious devotion and diversity that are increasingly a part of campus life at Yale.

It is a remarkable shift from when I was a student 15 years ago. Identity politics were all the rage then, but they were almost always about race, class, gender and sexuality. Academic departments, leadership program and residence halls – prompted by the Los Angeles riots [sparked by the acquittal of police offers charged with beating African American motorist Rodney King] – put on hundreds of diversity programs every year intended to create a more inclusive campus environment.