Baasil Shariff, a senior sociology major, sat in class, bored, and suddenly the hunger hit him. He snapped at someone, then apologized: “Sorry, I’m just hungry.” For Shariff, this hunger, although uncomfortable, changes his mindset of the world and makes him appreciate what he has.

He and the Muslim Student Association participated in a voluntary fast for charity, Fast-a-Thon, this past Monday in the Student Activities Center. The Fast-a-Thon was a voluntary fast in which participants did not eat from dawn till dusk.

Verdah Ahman, a sophomore sociology major and vice president of the MSA, helped plan the Fast-a-Thon. The MSA raised $861 for victims of war in Syria, $480 from the Fast-a-Thon alone, said Shariff, the MSA treasurer.

The MSA invited Dean of Students Timothy Ecklund to the event to be the keynote speaker.

“I was asked to be here. This is an event that was at a time when I just started here, and they were one of the first organization[s] to ask me to speak, so I feel a certain kinship,” Ecklund said.

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“Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but true righteousness is in one who believes in Allah,” Ahman read from the Quran, in front of about 30 students.

Ahman explained the difference between obligatory fasts and voluntary fasts. Obligatory fasts are done during the month of Ramadan, which is 30 days.

“In Islam, fasting is a sort of worship,” Ahman said. “You can fast any time that you want.”

The Fast-a-Thon is based on the Five Pillars of Islam: Declaration of Faith, Obligatory Prayer, Compulsory Giving, Fasting in the month of Ramadan and Pilgrimage to Mecca. The pillars are the basic framework by which Muslims try to abide.

“Fasting during Ramadan is one the five pillars of Islam. It means not eating, drinking, smoking, having sexual intercourse during the day, from sunrise to sunset,” Petra de Bruijn, a lecturer in Turkish studies at Leiden University in the Netherlands, said.

Praying is also one of the five pillars of Islam. “They have to pray five times a day. There are some special prayers on the days of the most important feast and there are special prayers for special occasions, when you missed a prayer of want to do something extra.”

Ahman and her cohorts organized food to be delivered to the SAC for those who fasted all day long. There was a suggested donation of $5 at the door.

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“Muslims tend to fast on Mondays and Thursdays because that is when Muhammad fasted,” Ahman explained. “If you want to do voluntary fasts, you should do it during these days. Today we started at 6 in the morning, and you can start eating at 5:54 at night, so it was [from] dawn to dusk.”

Ecklund added that although he did not fast this time, he will next time, and reflected on his first impression of the MSA.

“It was a wonderful program that the Muslim Student Association put on and wonderful [that] they invited other students to fast along with them and contribute to help other organizations,” Ecklund said. “It’s a great sign of what we do as Seawolves.”

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