Fast-a-Thon fundraises for charity

Muslim club organizes fast, hosts banquet


Muslim Student Association’s Fast-a-Thon, a day long event, featured a celebration banquet for students who pledged $5 to fast. The pledges were invited to a banquet celebration to break their fast hosted in the Fireside Hall on April 20.

By Robert Clinton, Sports Editor

In keeping with its mission statement to create a greater sense of community between Muslim and non-Muslim students on campus, the Muslim Student Association (MSA) hosted a fast and feast to highlight food insecurities and the plight of global hunger.

Over 80 students and staff members participated in the Fast-a-Thon which raised over $400 for the Greater Richmond Interfaith Program (GRIP).

The club sold $5 participation tickets during the week prior to the event in which applicants committed to fasting from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. followed by a traditional Mediterranean dinner, raffle and presentation by guest speaker Abdul Aziz.

“This is what college is all about. Learning from other cultures and helping each other grow,” Student Services and Instructional Support Coordinator Joel Nickelson-Shanks said.

The event serves as a precursor to Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of prayer, fasting and introspection.

This year, Ramadan is recognized in the U.S. from May 26 through June 25.

Prior to dinner, MSA President Rayah Khaled spoke to the over 70 people in attendance about the food crisis affecting one out of every six people across the country.

The event started on time and made seamless transitions between the food, entertainment and educational portions of the afternoon affair.a

Tables were prepared by MSA members with dates and water, foods traditionally eaten to break the fast before consuming a full meal.

As the food arrived, other members of the club prepared plates for the line of people, more than half of whom had fully committed to abstaining from food for the entire day.

The club served green salad, chicken-tika-masala, chana, rice and samosa.

Chana is a traditional Pakistani dish with a curry base that is typically made with a chickpea or garbanzo bean base.

Samosa is a fried or baked finger food with a rich filling. An infusion of potato, onion or other vegetables can be used to fill these international treats.

“Club members had made an agreement with each other to contribute in any way that we could to the Fast-a-Thon,” Khaled said. “Everyone knew what to do, but it helps to have a big club. We are planning to do a second one in the future.”

The roar of voices and stomach rumblings fell silent once dinner was served as conversations shifted to full-mouthed murmurs of how good a halal meal actually tastes.

Halal meals use meat that is prepared in strict accordance with Islamic regulation.

“The chicken is the best thing here. It has a nice flavor and it’s not too spicy,” Middle College High School student Ashanea Green said.

“Most importantly, when listening to the speaker, I learned the importance of fasting and what it means to Islamic culture.”

During the meal, Aziz explained the meaning of fasting and explained the importance of having sympathy with people who do not have the benefit of eating every day.

Prior to converting to Islam eight years ago, Aziz fasted for two years, sunrise to sunset, before making the decision to dedicate his life to Islam. “Some people fast and get nothing but hungry, but its real purpose is God consciousness,” he said.

After the meal, the club held a raffle for six $25 Visa gift cards as a show of appreciation to all who donated their $5 toward GRIP. The charity is an interfaith, multi-racial collaboration dedicated to the preservation of human dignity, transforming lives and furthering social justice.

On its website, it describes its programs and services as being tailored for local individuals and families in need of food, shelter or supportive services.

“This club is united and it has an excellent president (Khaled) who pushes her club members to also strive for success,” Associated Student Union President Safi Ward-Davis said.

“The Fast-a-Thon was a very important and successful event.”