Fast raises support for victims of hurricane

Cassandra Shofar and Cassandra Shofar

Many students went without food or water yesterday during the daylight hours. Not because it was unavailable but because it was their choice.

Last night in the BTSU Grand Ballroom, students were presented their first meal of the day at Fast-a-Thon, a charity event held to aid victims of Hurricane Katrina, presented by the Muslim Student Association on campus.

“Many people in this country suffered the consequences of this tragedy and remain to this day,” said Zaher Ibrahim, vice president of the MSA. “Many people went hungry, stayed in the cold and slept on the streets. We felt that as part of our mission we can help to make a difference in the lives of these people.”

The event, sponsored by various organizations, will collect money for Hurricane Katrina victims from local businesses who agreed to donate one dollar for every non-muslim student who agrees to fast with no food or drink during the daylight hours of November 1.

The money collected will be donated to a food bank called America’s Second Harvest which goes towards Katrina victims.

“We are aiming for at least $1,000,” Ibrahim said, who later proved that the event was a success, calculating that $1,170 was donated.

While the MSA fasts anyhow for Ramadan, the ninth month of the lunar calendar which is considered the holiest month for Muslims, they decided to encourage as many people, Muslim or non-muslim, to fast on one day of Ramadan for the purpose of helping victims of Katrina.

“We do it to feel how poor people feel,” said Raed Anbari, senior. “With this charity, we help people buy food, clothes, whatever they need … so they can help themselves.”

Anbari believes fasting may not be affable but it is essentially good for people.

“You need to be patient … to stop eating and enjoying for this month is hard,” he said. “You learn self control, it’s also healthy to clean your body.”

Although fasting can be challenging, it seems even harder to do on campus, said Anbari.

“You go around and find people eating and enjoying their food and I know I’m doing the right thing but sometimes you really want a bite,” he said.

Among the non-Muslim students who participated was senior Jacqui Long.

“It gives me a chance to be reminded of the people throughout the world who go hungry,” she said. “And relying on the Lord for strength.”

Long said fasting can be a taxing sacrifice but it is worth it.

“It’s certainly a challenge, but I felt like I was pretty strong throughout the day.”

After the president of the MSA – Ma’Moon Al-Rshaidat, sang Aazaan, the call for prayer which broke the fast — all the students and people participating went to eat their first meal and sip their first drink of the day.

Shortly after the meal, Dr. Abdel Alo, chairman of the Board of Trustees for the Masjid Saad Foundation in Toledo, spoke about the essence of fasting. He was followed by Agency Relations Specialist Bernice Toney from Toledo, who is affiliated with America’s Second Harvest and spoke briefly about the donations to Katrina victims.

While many may think this event was just another charity, to people such as Long, Anbari and Ibrahim, it holds greater significance.

“This event has a very special meaning for all of us,” Ibrihim said. “It is a moment where everyone stands united for the sake of this noble cause.”