Simmons | Assistant Copy Editor
For Muslims, the act of fasting goes
beyond the scope of giving up meals for 30 days from sunrise
to sunset during Ramadan in October.
Fasting instills in
Muslims self-discipline, appreciation and compassion for the
“One of the reasons we fast is to get a
feel for how poor people around the world are feeling and we
can get a feeling of what they’re going through,” said Maria
Rathur, a senior who is a psychology and pre-law double major.
Rathur is vice president of the Wayne State University
chapter of the Muslim Students Association and has been a
member of the organization since her freshman year. She is one
of the people responsible for putting together the Ramadan
Fast-A-Thon, a national MSA event that will take place on Oct.
10 at 6:45 p.m. in the ballroom of the Student Center
Building. The one-day fast is to help raise money for the
Katrina relief effort.
“We’ve done it [the Fast-A-Thon]
for three years,” said Rathur. “We always picked a charity.
This time it’s the Katrina relief effort.”
especially encouraged to participate in the event because MSA
members said that fasting goes beyond religious conventions.
It has good qualities that many non-Muslims don’t often
“It’s a good way to purify yourself through
prayer, pick up slack and replenish your body,” said Radia
Denaph, a senior in the occupational therapy program who’s a
member of the MSA. “You can reflect on yourself and whether
you’re doing this for yourself or God.”
“It gives us a
chance to rebuild ourselves,” said Rathur.
non-Muslims may wonder how not eating from sunrise to sunset
can possibly be beneficial to one’s health — spiritually,
emotionally and physically — fasting really does help to
cleanse the body and give it a break.
offers a plethora of information about the Muslim religion and
lifestyle. According to the Web site’s Imam, a leader of
congregational prayers, there is information documented
scientifically about how fasting cleanses the body of
impurities and toxins that come from substances like fast
foods, saturated fats, smoking and hard liquor.
Muslims, fasting also cleanses them of sin.
not just about the food and water,” said Rathur. “It’s about
getting rid of the habits like swearing, things you shouldn’t
do. It [also] involves character and the way we act and speak
for 30 days.”
“They [Muslims] reflect on what they’re
doing, not just the eating aspect,” said Denaph. “We use this
month to find ourselves.”
The thought of fasting can be
unappealing to a lot of non-Muslims because it could be viewed
as a mild form of self-starvation or dehydration. However,
Muslims still eat two to three meals daily during Ramadan.
They just follow a certain format to do it.
“We wake up
early in the morning, before the sun rises, and you have to
eat a meal,” said Rathur. “Then, you’re not allowed to eat or
drink anything during sunrise and sunset [approximately from 6
a.m. to 7 p.m.]. After sunset, we try to open our
“Fasting is for our own good as well as our
health,” said Hassan Chaudry, a senior majoring in accounting.
He’s been president of MSA’s Wayne State chapter for four
months and a member for three years. “Fasting gives [the body]
Chaudry encourages non-Muslims to try
fasting, whether they attend the event or not, just to
discover if this can work for them.
encourage non-Muslims to try fasting for a day,” he said.
“It’s not as bad as it sounds. It’s not a religious
obligation [for non-Muslims].”
Rathur said that she
wants non-Muslims to see that fasting and Ramadan aren’t as
negative as she thinks the media make them out to
“The reason why we’re doing the event is that we
wanted non-Muslims to see how it felt,” she said. “It’s
portrayed so negatively in the media.”