The Islamic Society of UM [ISUM] held its second annual Fast-a-Thon to earn money for the Daily Bread Food Bank, raising over $1800.
Local business and families donated $1 or more for each of the 309 non-Muslim participants.
“It was awesome to get so many more students this year than last year,” said Minal Ahson, junior and fast-a-thon coordinator.
According to Sahar Ullah, president of ISUM, every dollar donated will provide six meals to Miami’s homeless.
“The whole idea is that you get hungry for change,” Ullah said.
The fast-a-thon coincides with the month of Ramadan, during which Muslims fast from dawn to sunset every day, abstaining from food, drinks, water, cigarettes and even from getting angry and cussing.
“You are fasting to remember those who don’t have food,” Ullah said
During Ramadan, Muslims wake early in the morning to have a pre-dawn breakfast called suhoor. At the end of the day they take their Iftar meal, which typically includes dates, fresh fruits, appetizers, beverages and dinner.
Later in the evening, Muslims attend special nightly Tarawih prayers at their local Masjud. Each night during Ramadan, approximately one-thirtieth of the Quran is recited in the Tarawih prayers so that the entire scripture is recited in the course of the 29 or 30 days of the month.
Although Muslims fast for the entire month, participants fasted only for one day.
“I eat everyday, so if I can go one day without eating so that someone who doesn’t can eat, that its worth it,” Amy Collins, sophomore, said.
Participants said they found a greater appreciation for material things through fasting.
“It’s amazing how we take [food] for granted,” Jasmine James, sophomore, said. “You never think about not having food.”
They also used the experience to learn about Muslim culture.
“One of the beauties of UM is that we have so many cultures represented,” Mike Johnston, senior, said. “Doing something like this helps me experience something other than the traditional Burger King.”
Others said they participated to learn about Islamic culture.
“I wanted to learn more about the Muslim faith and culture, given the current circumstances,” Danny Alvarez, senior, said.
“It’s a good way to dispel misconceptions,” Erica Shinholser, senior, said.
Although the participants survived the fast, they say they faced many challenges along the way.
“I was in an office that had amazing chocolates on the desk that I always eat,” Johston said. “While I was fasting, I took one, unwrapped it, and was about to eat it when I remembered.
“It definitely took some will power.”
Ahson said she appreciates the efforts of the participants.
“It was nice to see students want to do good,” Ahson said.
Leigha Taber can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.