Over the past nine years, SLU’s Muslim Student Association (MSA) has sponsored a day called Fast-a-thon to help enlighten students about other cultures and religions, and also to provide a better understanding of what the poor and needy go through every day.
This year, Fast-a-thon will take place on Monday, Feb. 24, and on the evening of the event MSA will provide participants with free food and entertainment. The day of Fast-a-thon will be an example of what Muslims do during the month of Ramadan. Ramadan takes place for 29-30 days during the year; these days vary every year depending on the lunar calendar. This year, Ramadan will start on the evening of June 28 and will end the evening of July 28.
“There is a verse in the second chapter of the Quran, the Muslim holy book, that basically says that the purpose of fasting and the month of Ramadan is so we can achieve a greater level of God-consciousness,” junior and MSA co-President Mustafaa Mahmood said.
During Ramadan, Muslims do not eat or drink anything, including water, from sunrise to sunset. It is encouraged for participants to also fast from being mean and rude to others and to improve their manners. The day of Fast-a-thon will be modeled after a common day of Ramadan.
By signing up, students pledge that they will try to fast from food and negative thoughts on Monday. This year, a record-setting 850 students have already pledged to fast. According to Mahmood, roughly 650 students participated in previous years. The group’s goal this year is to have 1,000 students register for the event.
Through Fast-a-thon, MSA hopes to help SLU students learn a little bit more about Islam, and more importantly, according to Mahmood, try to have a better appreciation for the poor and hungry.
Brian Pence, a freshman who registered for the event, wasn’t intimidated by the prospect of missing a meal.
“I’m not really nervous, I don’t really know what to expect. I think it will be a fun and reflective cultural experience,” Pence said.
For those who, unlike Pence, find themselves nervous about making it all day without eating or drinking anything, Mahmood offered some advice on how to get through the day successfully.
He said one important step in the process is to wake up early before the sunrise and eat breakfast. He also recommended to staying away from fatty, heavy foods in the morning and drinking plenty of water the day before and morning of the fast.
Mahmood added that in order to keep the mind off food, it is helpful to remain busy with school, work and other activities.
On the afternoon of the event, MSA will hold a special dinner to break their fast. The doors of the Wool Ballroom in the BSC will open at 5:30 p.m. and the event will begin at 5:45 p.m. The participants will be able to break their fast at 5:49 p.m., with a piece of candy and a sip of water, which will be followed by prayer and a full dinner.
This year, actor and comedian Omar Regan will perform after dinner is served. Regan is a Muslim who focuses on Islamic humor during his stand-up performances.
T-shirts will be sold for $7 at MSA’s table and during the event. All proceeds will go to help the Syrian relief effort.