Observing Ramadan: Fast-a-thon brings Muslim and non-Muslim students together for charity

This Aug. 22, Muslim students at Tech began their observation of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, by fasting from dawn to sunset.

Throughout the month of Ramadan, Muslims are required to fast starting at Fajr, the dawn prayer.

They may only eat again after Maghrib, the prayer done at sunset.

During the Ramadan fast, known as Sawm, they are also forbidden to drink, smoke, or have sex and must avoid cursing and obscene thoughts.

If a person were to forget to fast and accidently ingest food they are supposed to immediately spit out the food once they remember.

Muslims wake up early to eat the pre-dawn meal called Suhoor, which is usually heavy to avoid weakness during the fast.

After Maghrib, they break their fast with the meal called Iftar which is usually a social event.

Muslims often go to the mosque to pray and break their fast together at Iftar.

Food at Iftar includes dates, Chai, Noon, Paneer, fresh herbs, and halva.

The mosque nearest Tech, Al-Farooq Masjid, which is located off of 14th Street, offers free Iftars for the community. A date is typically the first food eaten at Iftar to break the fast. One purpose of Ramadan is to bring one a raised awareness and closeness to God.

As Maha Hosain, President of the Muslim Students Association (MSA), said, “It makes you want to put all your attention toward God. You want to get together and pray. It reminds you to get your prayers in, then think about school.”

To some, the sacrifice of fasting on Ramadan helps practice self-discipline and generosity. It is also said to help keep the soul away from harm. “As a Muslim you are supposed to ask your neighbor if he has had dinner before you eat,” said Farhan Farooqui, a third-year EE in the MSA.

“The fast helps you feel all the people’s hunger. It’s also a reminder to abstain from lying and all other bad behaviors for the next year,” Farooqui said.

In this spirit of generosity toward those less fortunate, the MSA hosts a Fast-A-Thon during Ramadan to raise money for a cause.

This year, donations went to Grady Memorial Hospital, a hospital that often provides medical care for those without insurance, and is facing financial trouble.

Hosain explained that both Muslim and non-Muslim students were encouraged to pledge to fast in order to raise money.

“We suggested that members ask non-Muslims to pledge to fast. Pledging was open to everyone,” Hosain said.

“This year, we had 75 pledges, and so far we’ve had 3 companies agree to donate $2 per pledge.”

“But,” Hosain said, “we plan to keep contacting companies to donate based on the pledges we had.”

Hosain also explained that the Fast-A-Thon was not hosted by just the Tech MSA, but was a joint effort with the Muslim Student Associations at Georgia State and Kennesaw State as well.

There is one night in Ramadan that is especially important. This night, called Laylat al-Qadr, is believed to be the night that the Qu’ran was revealed to Muhammad.

As Hosain said, “For those who pray on that night, it is as if they had prayed for 10,000 nights.”

It isn’t known exactly when the night is, it thought to be one of the last odd-numbered nights.

Because of this, Muslims often pray extra prayers during these nights.

After the last day of Ramadan, Muslims celebrate the end of the fast in a holiday called Eid ul-Fitr.

On this day Muslims usually feast and gather at mosques to pray together. Eid is an Arabic word that mean “festivity” and Fitr means “to break the fast.” Because of the emphasis on socializing, only a few mosques host Eid, so that there will be a large gathering at each one.

Those celebrating the feast are supposed to finish their feasting on the last day of Ramadan and then repeat the Takbir until the start of Eid prayer.

The Takbir is the Arabic term for the phrase “Allahu Akbar,” which is generally translated to mean “ God is great.”

This year, the last day of Ramadan is Sept. 19, with Eid following on Sept. 20 or 21. The date of Eid depends on when the moon is sighted.