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Fasting can be replenishing for non-Muslims

By Jasti 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 less fortunate.

“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.”
Non-Muslims are 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 consider.

“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.
Though 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.

For Muslims, fasting also cleanses them of sin.

“Fasting is 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 fast.”

“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] a break.”

Chaudry encourages non-Muslims to try fasting, whether they attend the event or not, just to discover if this can work for them.

“We really 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 be.

“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.”

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