Muslim Student Organization hosts Fast-a-thon

The event was held to teach students about fasting and Islam.
Muslim Student Organization President Arwa Mohammad speaks at Fast-A-Thon on Monday in Stotler Lounge. The event was meant to help victims of a recent flood in Pakistan by donating canned goods.

The Muslim Student Organization hosted a charity Fast-a-thon on Monday in Stotler Lounge to raise money for victims of the recent Pakistan flood and to educate students about fasting and Islam.

The Fast-a-thon usually coincides with the month of Ramadan. MSO spokesperson Mahir Khan said this year’s Fast-a-thon was held further from Ramadan due to scheduling conflicts at the beginning of the school year.

“We actually put on the Fast-a-thon every single year around the time of Ramadan,” Khan said. “MSOs across the country do the same event.”

Khan said the Fast-a-thon has had a steady audience since it has been on campus.

“We’ve had a consistent Fast-a-thon for the last four or five years,” Khan said. “We’ve probably had around 20 or 30 people fast with us every single year, but it’s pretty consistent.”

The Fast-a-thon, which had about 80 participants this year, began with a short presentation on the basics of Islam, followed by a break-fast, evening prayers and a discussion of students’ experiences with fasting.

Khan said the event provides an opportunity for MSO to educate students about the spiritual side of fasting in Islam.

“It’s such a good opportunity for non-Muslims to get an understanding of what fasting is,” Khan said. “The basics of fasting are that you don’t eat or drink, but that’s just barely the tip of the iceberg.”

Khan said fasting is a spiritual process that Muslims use to cleanse their souls.

“Fasting is really a process of purifying the soul,” Khan said. “During the month of Ramadan when Muslims fast they really kind of put their souls back in neutral and try to purify them.”

Fasting also allows Muslims to gain a better understanding of the impact that poverty has on people who have little access to food, Khan said.

“Not eating and drinking is a huge part, obviously,” he said. “But the reason that we fast is so that we can feel what it’s like for the millions of people around the world that don’t get to eat every day.”

Education Chairman Shafi Lodhi said the Fast-a-thon provided an opportunity for non-Muslims to learn about Islam.

“Our main goal with the Fast-a-thon is to educate Muslims about Islam, because mostly in the climate we live in right now there’s a lot of misunderstanding, a lot of ignorance,” Lodhi said. “What we’re trying to do with this is just educate non-Muslims about the true meaning of Islam.”

MSO President Arwa Mohammad said the event was successful in helping non-Muslims to better understand Islam.

“I thought the Fast-a-thon went really well,” Mohammad said. “I thought people got the chance to understand a different religion, a different culture and came out and talked to us and understood what we go through (fasting) at least 30 days a year.”

Lodhi said the Fast-a-thon provided a more practical way to teach the basics of Islam as opposed to a simple explanation of Islamic beliefs.

“We thought this would be a good way instead of just going out and telling people, ‘This is what we believe,’” Lodhi said. “This opportunity for non-Muslims to actually take part in an act of worship that we do, so this enables them to see us from our point of view instead of seeing us from the outside.”

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