Students fast to bring awareness to Islam, Monroe County poverty

Fresh bread. Hot biryani. Pizza — its cheese stretching from the box to the plate.

The spread was a sight for sore eyes — and empty stomachs — Tuesday in the Forest Greenleaf Dining Room during the IU Muslim Student Union’s annual FAST-A-THON.

Much like the Muslim practice of fasting every day from sunrise to sunset during the month of Ramadan, the students sitting around many of the room’s tables had abstained from food since sun-up. It was now 8 p.m., and they were ready to eat.

But, first: an explanation and a prayer.

The FAST-A-THON, one of many events during the MSU’s Islamic Awareness Week, served two goals, said junior Zain Ashary, an MSU board member.

“It’s about learning more about the Islamic faith as well as raising awareness for the hungry in Bloomington,” Ashary said. “There are people here in Bloomington that do not know when they are going to get to eat again.”

Hassan Lachheb, an associate professor with the Department of Religious Studies, recited a prayer and discussed both the spiritual and humanitarian aspects of the event. A red bucket sat on a table beside him, ready for donations to help the Monroe County Community Kitchen.

Lachheb said fasting, through denying the body one of its main non-spiritual desires, can only bring someone closer to their religion. It demonstrates that you are not a slave to your body or food, he said.

But it also serves another purpose.

“This is a self-imposed hunger,” Lachheb said. “There is plenty of food, we have money. Fasting makes us close to the people who cannot eat, who don’t have the privilege to eat three or four times a day.”

Read the rest of this story at Crimson Life Magazine.