MSA to host fast-a-thon

By David Matz

The old adage suggests that people “put themselves in another person’s shoes.”

This saying is taken to heart by the members of Northern Illinois University’s Muslim Students Association (MSA) who will host a fast-a-thon event this Thursday.

“The fast-a-thon is an event where we ask people who aren’t Muslim to fast with us for the day in order to build empathy to those who don’t have food and those who participate in Ramadan,” said Asna Qureshi, senior mathematic education senior and president of MSA.

This is the second year the MSA has hosted the fast-a-thon, and they hope to have about 100 participants this year, Qureshi said. Participants in the fast-a-thon will eat a small meal early in the morning on Thursday and abstain from food and drink until 7 p.m. At the end of fasting, the MSA will host a dinner in the Chandelier Room at Adams Hall comprised of ethnic Pakistan and Arabic foods. Those interested in participating should sign up before Thursday with MSA members in the MLK Commons.

The MSA is funding this dinner event with their Student Association funds and is also asking for donations at the dinner for their philanthropy movement Helping Hands.

“Helping Hands is a big organization that helps countries all over the world with their problems,” said Eraj Ansari, senior elementary education and secretary of MSA.

This is the first time the MSA has partnered with Helping Hands, which has in the past helped provide relief for Haiti earthquake and Pakistani flood victims, Ansari said. The MSA doesn’t have a fund raising goal set for the event but hopes to get whatever they can for this important cause.

“I am really excited for this partnership,” Ansari said. “It will feel really good to help different countries who really need it and know that our fundraising money is going toward helping people in struggling countries.”

The fast-a-thon coincides with the start of Ramadan, the most holy month for Muslims. During Ramadan, practicing Muslims fast from food and drink from dawn till dusk as a way to observe patience and be more thankful for the food they have, Qureshi said.

“It helps people to know what it’s like not to have food,” said Syed Rehman, junior biology major and member of the MSA. Rehman has been fasting during Ramadan for the past 12 years, but this is his first time participating in the fast-a-thon at NIU.

The MSA hopes to spread understanding and awareness of Muslim students on campus at NIU, said Qureshi. They hope to continue planning events on campus in the near future.