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Students fast to support families with sick children

By Amia Davis, Daily Staff Reporter
Published December 5, 2013

The Muslim Students’ Association held its Fast-a-Thon Thursday, a fundraising event aimed to test willpower, practice self-discipline and allow non-Muslims to experience fasting.

Participants fasted from sunrise to sunset, and they didn’t just abstain from food and water — they also opted out of activities like video games and online shopping, guilty pleasures that Tayssir Safi Mohammed, the University’s Muslim chaplain, said inhibit spiritual life.

In its 12th year, MSA donated money raised from Fast-a-Thon to Rainbow Connection, a Michigan-based organization that grants the wishes of terminally ill children and provides assistance to their families.

According to LSA junior Nour Soubani, MSA’s president, 235 students and faculty fasted this year.

The end of fasting came at 4:30 p.m. Thursday. MSA and Fast-a-Thon participants gathered in the Rackham Amphitheater to celebrate. The event began with LSA freshman Aiman Almasnaah, who recied a verse from the Quran, followed by an English rendition of the same verse by LSA senior Zainab Masood.

Safi, the event's guest speaker, discussed the importance of fasting in the keynote address. The three stages of fasting, he explained, were staying away from food and water, staying away from moral vices and fasting from anything other than God.

“There are people in this country, not just outside of this country, who are in need, and so the ancient religion of God in different manifestations encourages us to give to other people,” Safi said.

LSA sophomore Sarah Khan, MSA’s on-site chair, said Fast-a-Thon is usually held during a day in Ramadan, but since that holiday took place over summer this year, the Fast-a-Thon was held this month.

At the end of the event, participants broke their fast by eating a date, a nutritious fruit customarily eaten during Ramadan. Afterward, they ate a free dinner offered by MSA.

Nursing sophomore Heather Raymond had planned for weeks to attend the Fast-a-Thon, she said after Safi’s speech while other participants prayed.

“I fasted for understanding,” Raymond said.

Correction appended: A previous version of this article misstated Nour Soubani's class standing.