Muslim Student Union holds annual Fastathon dinner to spread customs

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By all appearances it was a normal day of school Wednesday, Feb. 25. However, a portion of the student body did not eat lunch that day. They were participating in the annual Fastathon, sponsored by the Muslim Student Union, or MSU.
MSU challenged the students not to eat or drink anything from sunrise to sunset that day. The annual Fastathon encourages understanding of how fasting works during Ramadan for the Muslims across the globe.
Approximately 130 students showed up for the dinner in the RBHS cafeteria at 5:45 p.m. MSU members helped to provide dinner that night as a reward for those who fasted or those who attempted to fast for a portion of the day.
Twelve minutes later, the Muslim call to prayer, called the Adhan, echoed throughout the large hall, lasting about three minutes. The call to prayer signaled the breaking of the fast.
“I have never actually heard the evening prayer before,” senior CJ Phillips, who participated in the Fastathon, said. “I have never actually heard any of the prayers in full, but that was really interesting. It was beautiful.”
Students who fasted for 12 hours or less that day reached out to eat the dates on a plate in the middle of their tables after the prayer finished. Dates are the traditional food that most Muslims break their fast with during Ramadan, the month of fasting.
MSU vice president, senior Fariha Rashid said it took the leaders of MSU about a month to plan and execute the Fastathon, Rashid said this was the best turnout for it in her time at RBHS. It was her third year planning it, so for her, it was straightforward, but she said she always looked forward to seeing how many non-Muslims attempt to fast every year.
“My favorite part was watching everyone get food,” Rashid said. “I didn’t eat, but that is always good, just seeing everybody making conversations, just bringing people together.”
After the call to prayer and after everybody broke their fasts, more than 100 students went to the PAC lobby to watch their Muslim peers perform the evening prayer.
“I learned how they pray in that they actually stand up and down and stuff,” senior Betsy Poehlman, who also participated in the Fastathon, said. “I didn’t know that before, and that was really cool.”
After the prayer ended, students returned to the cafeteria to eat. With a variety of foods from across the globe, many students tasted foods they have never eaten before.
“The food was delicious,” Phillips said. “I liked the butter chicken. The naan I liked a bit more than the pita, but I liked them both a lot. I also liked the cookies and stuff, but I am sure that [was] not the most interesting food there. Those were some good cookies though.”
While the students ate their meals, the two co-presidents of MSU gave a presentation explaining why Muslims fast each year and explaining the basics of fasting.
“What I really liked was being able to see the Muslims culture and really be able to learn more about it,” Poehlman said. “I really liked the lesson, just about what all Islam [is] about.”
By Abdul-Rahman Abdul-Kafi
photo by Madelyn Stewart

Fast-a-Thon from Bearing News on Vimeo.
video by Renata Williams
Fill me up: Students line up for dinner after the MSU Fastathon Wednesday, Feb. 25.