Are you hungry?
If you are, Liz Lassiter may make you think twice about running to the nearest Wendy’s by telling you about her experiences with fasting over the past three years during the Fast-a-thon, an annual event coordinated by the Muslim Students’ Association. Lassiter said she is going to participate in the program for the fourth year in a row.
“I usually get hungry at around 3 p.m. (when fasting),” she said. “And in my freshman and sophomore years, I took naps in the afternoon and woke up after sunset.”
In spite of the hunger, she still participates in Fast-a-thon because for every person that signs up, local businesses make donations to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina and the earthquake in Pakistan.
Started at the University by MSA four years ago, Fast-a-thon is a national event that collects funds for people without food and raises awareness of Islam during the month of Ramadan. During Ramadan, which celebrates the revelation of the Koran to the Prophet Muhammad, observant Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Fast-a-thon encourages Muslim and non-Muslim students to go without food for one day so others don’t have to.
At 6:30 a.m. tomorrow, students who have signed up to fast will receive an e-mail reminding them that they have pledged to not consume any food during the day. The fast ends at 6:30 p.m., when participating students join MSA members in the Wedge Room in West Quad for a dinner sponsored by local businesses.
“Through fasting, we get a feeling of people who don’t have food in Asia and in New Orleans,” said LSA sophomore Ashhar Ali, MSA’s community service chair.
Ali also said that though students can learn about fasting through textbooks, newspaper articles and other media, taking part in a fast offers a completely different perspective.
“Through actual fasting, people come to understand the benefits of it on a spiritual level,” he said, explaining that depriving oneself of food and water requires dedication.
MSA Vice President Wajeeha Shuttari said that through Fast-a-thon, more people have realized the significance of Ramadan.
“We hope to increase awareness of the religion through the event, letting students and faculty know that people are fasting on campus,” she said.
Lassiter said she came to admire the dedication of Muslims through her involvement with Fast-a-thon.
“I think you definitely notice how much commitment Muslims have for their religion (when) they fast for 30 days. I don’t think people realize this,” she said.
So far, 300 students have volunteered to stay hungry, and MSA is aiming for about 400 participants by the end of Tuesday, Ali said. Because the amount businesses donate depends on the number of participants, Ali encouraged more students to take part in the event.
“(The Fast-a-thon coordinator) and I really believe that the number can speak for the awareness of the issue of hunger and the religion that people have on campus,” he said.