The Muslim Student Association held TCU’s first fast-a-thon dinner at Smith Hall on Friday and plans to make this an annual event, said the MSA president. The dinner was held to recognize the end of Ramadan, which is Oct. 23, said Danielle Richter, the MSA president and a senior entrepreneurial management major.
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic year where Muslims fast for 30 days to observe what they believe is the time the Quran was sent from heaven, said Sanober Lateef, a sophomore biology major.
The dinner also aimed to raise at least $1,000 for the West African Relief Fund through donations and to encourage others to fast, Lateef said.
During Ramadan, Lateef said Muslims consume nothing. This includes food, water, gum or medicine of any kind from sunrise, roughly 6:25 a.m. to sunset, roughly 6:59 at night.
“It’s like skipping lunch,” Lateef said, explaining Muslims can eat after sunrise, just not during the day.
Freshman business major Naheil Qudah said Ramadan teaches self-discipline.
However, senior accounting and finance major Shamaila Malik said it is difficult to fast as a college student because food is always available.
If Ramadan falls around Halloween due to the lunar schedule of the Islamic calendar, she said she must wait to eat her candy.
The fast of Ramadan can only be broken during strict emergencies and days skipped must be made up, Lateef said.
“It’s a fast from behavior,” Lateef said, explaining during Ramadan, Muslims also refrain from parties. “You basically can’t do much at all.”
Lateef said by refraining, one builds their way to heaven.
“If you’ve been doing something wrong, that will kind of cancel it out,” Lateef said.
During Ramadan, all of the good things someone does counts for more, she said.
Ramadan is a national observance with many collegiate participants, Richter said. MSA supports the West African Relief Fund, a charity that gives food to the starving because of its relevance to Ramadan, Richter said.
“We’re starving for others to be fed,” Richter said.
The University of Texas at Arlington has a large Ramadan celebration, Richter said, “but we decided it’s time for TCU to have one as well.”
Friday’s speaker, Imam Bakhash of Arlington’s Al Hedayeh Academy, said Ramadan is a historic event.
For a while, MSA was dormant at TCU, Malik said. With assistance from religion professor and MSA adviser Yushau Sodiq, Malik’s idea to bring Muslims together at a “predominately Christian college” is what sparked Friday’s benefit dinner and MSA’s revival last spring, she said.
“For a long time I was the only Muslim that I knew,” Malik said, “and my parents were afraid people that know I’m Muslim would think the wrong thing given everything going on politically with Osama.”
Malik said she also wanted to increase Islamic awareness.
“Many people don’t know that Islam is about peace, and there’s just fundamentalists like the terrorists of 9/11 in every religion,” she said.
Senior accounting and finance major Claudia Vaz, who attended the event, said she learned about Ramadan but had never been invited to participate before.
“I’m Catholic,” Vaz said, “and in the Arab country where I’m from you can’t participate if you are not Muslim.