“We have to look at the moon and decide,” said Ghadah Hasan, a senior education major and member of the Muslim Student Association at Temple. “We’re old fashioned. The tradition is to follow the moon. So that’s what most of us do.”
The moon is important in September for followers of the Islamic faith.
Traditionally, the moon’s position decides when the religious holiday of Ramadan begins. Every year, Muslims fast throughout Ramadan.
In light of the holiday, the MSA holds a fundraiser known as the Fast-A-Thon. On Wednesday, Oct. 18, MSA will conduct a day-long program that encourages non-Muslim individuals to share in the holiday fasting.
Donations are accepted by MSA for the Fast-A-Thon from those who participate.
In turn, MSA donates all the proceeds to Philabundance – formerly known as the Greater Philadelphia Food Bank – which is a local charity dedicated to providing food for those less fortunate individuals in the Philadelphia region. “It turned out so well last year,” Hasan said. “Honestly, I didn’t expect so many people to participate in it. I didn’t know that so many people wanted to see what actually happens.
“Another aim of MSA’s Fast-A-Thon is to offer interested individuals the chance to share in different cultural experiences.
“When other people participated they felt really united with us, even if they weren’t Muslim,” Hasan said. “It was really cool.”
According to Meuza Iyassu, a sophomore political science major and MSA executive board member, expectations for this year’s turnout are high.
“I have high hopes this year,” Iyassu said.
“I see a lot of people come through [the Fast-A-Thon]. Muslims, Christians, Jews. Anyone, anyone is welcome.
“For MSA’s president Omar Arshad, what’s the turnout isn’t necessarily important.
“Every single year we’ve had increasing numbers of people who participate,” Arshad said. “We want to continue that trend, but obviously if we can’t, I’m not going to be upset, just as long as people that do participate benefit from it and learn something.
“The group said that the experience of participating in the Fast-A-Thon is not only to provide a new cultural experience, but to also to raise awareness about people who do not have the means to celebrate.
“Hopefully Fast-A-Thon] teaches people to walk a day in a poor man’s shoes,” Iyassu said. “This is the whole point of the Fast-A-Thon: to teach people discipline.
“In order to learn more about how to become involved and pledge for Fast-A-Thon, visit MSA’s Web site at www.temple.edu/msa. MSA will also have sign-up tables in the Student Center on Oct. 4, Oct. 11 and Oct. 16.
T.C. Mazar can be reached at email@example.com.