Ramadan Fast-a-Thon Promotes Charity and Community

Posted: November 3, 2004 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Christopher Anzalone

The Muslim Student Association (MSA) at George Mason is running a Fast-a-Thon program, which aims to collect money for a local charity while educating the university’s non-Muslim students, faculty, and staff about Ramadan and the practices associated with it. The program, which was started several years ago by the MSA at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, is held at universities nationwide and in Canada. Last year, a combined total of more than $46,000 was collected through Fast-a-Thon programs run by 130 MSA chapters. The Fast-a-Thon will be held at Mason on Nov. 10.

During the month of Ramadan, more than 1.3 billion Muslims worldwide abstain from food, drink, tobacco, and sexual relations from sunrise until sunset. Candy and gum are also prohibited for those who are fasting. Through the act of fasting, Muslims seek to develop an even greater sense of empathy with those who are poor and have no choice but to go hungry, in the spirit of charity that has existed within Islam since its founding in seventh century Arabia by the Prophet Muhammad. At the close of each day’s fast, Muslim communities gather together at celebratory dinners called iftaars. The dinners are sometimes followed by special prayers called Taraweeh, in which 1/30 of the Qur’an, the book of writings accepted by Muslims as revelations made to Muhammad, is recited each night for the entire month.

The Fast-a-Thon is being cosponsored at George Mason by the Center for Service and Leadership. “Since George Mason has such a diverse student population, the opportunity to cosponsor an event that provides both an educational opportunity for all students and an opportunity to serve and support the local community fits with [our] mission,” says Lynn Leavitt, the center’s director.

To participate in the Fast-a-Thon, interested individuals sign a pledge to fast on Nov 10. To break the fast that day, participants will join the MSA for an iftaar in the SUB II Ballroom from 5 to 7 p.m. For each person who agrees to fast, local business sponsors have agreed to donate $1 to Our Daily Bread, a local charity. For more information, e-mail the MSA’s Fast-a-Thon coordinator, Toka Nusaira, at tnusaira@gmu.edu.

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