Commentary: Fast-a-Thon tied students together over one cause

You’ve heard of walking for a cause, but have you ever heard of starving for a cause? Last Friday, about 20 Northeastern students and staff members gave up eating and drinking to raise money for Rosie’s Place, a local homeless shelter for women. They pledged for the Fast-A-Thon, a national campaign by Muslim student associations in various universities.

This year, the Islamic Society of Northeastern University ran the Fast-A-Thon not only with the goal to raise funds for Rosie’s Place, but also to increase awareness of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. During Ramadan, Muslims all over the world abstain from food and drink from dawn until dusk for thirty days, increase their regular daily worship and recitation of the Koran and give to charity. Fasting disciplines not only the body, but also the mind and soul to focus on connecting with God instead of material desires.

The Fast-A-Thon is a call to non-Muslims to join with Muslims in the fast and the fast-breaking meal, called the iftar. For every non-Muslim who pledged to fast, the Islamic Society found a local business to sponsor a donation to Rosie’s Place under that non-Muslim student’s name. There were some students who were interested in fasting, but did not think they could last the 14 hours of the fast, so they donated money directly to Rosie’s Place instead.

At dusk, around 6:30 p.m, the Fast-A-Thon participants joined Muslim students from NU and other colleges to break the fast with dates (a fruit) and milk, followed by a delicious meal of authentic Middle Eastern food of kebabs, couscous and baklava, catered by Boston Kebab House. The dinner was followed by a lecture on Muslims in the U.S by Sheikh Yasir Qadhi, a professor at the Al-Maghrib Institute in Boston, devoted to the study of Islam.

Most fasting non-Muslims said they felt little physical discomfort during the fast and could do it again if needed. Everyone, regardless of faith, sat together with the same intentions, strengthened bonds as humans and deepened their understanding of each other. If “ignorance is the mother of prejudice,” then this event has decreased the biases about Muslims and Islam, and allowed members of the Northeastern community to learn more about Islam, Ramadan, and the practice of fasting, all while raising funds for an honorable cause.

On behalf of the Islamic Society of Northeastern University and Rosie’s Place, we would like to graciously thank those 20 Northeastern students and staff members who pledged to fast and the other students who donated money to Rosie’s Place on Wednesday and Thursday at ISNU’s Fast-A-Thon table on the library quad.

– Fatima Shahzad is a senior political science major and president of the Islamic Society of Northeastern University.

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