Muslim Student Association breaks fast with evening of gratitude

By: Emmie McKiernan

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Students, faculty and members of the Dallas community broke fast together at Wednesday’s 14th annual Fast-A-Thon hosted by the Muslim Student Association. Members of the community pledged to refrain from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset to raise money for the charity and to show gratitude for the many blessings in their life.

“Spirituality in the 21st century is about the individual and no longer about community,” said guest speaker Sheikh Omar Suleiman, Director of the Islamic Learning Foundation, Resident Scholar at Valley Ranch Islamic Center and an instructor at many universities and institutes.

Suleiman spoke with clearness and warmth as he switched back and forth from English and Arabic. He reminded the audience that becoming a better Muslim, Christian, Jew or member of any religion means becoming a better human being. This means always looking to better oneself and the world.

SMU senior Samira Elmazouni said, “Fasting is to practice self restraint, remember God, and be thankful for what we have.”

Members of the Muslim faith fast to experience the hunger and thirst that many human beings around the world go through on a daily basis. When they fast they are reminded how many blessings they have in their life. The longest fast occurs during Ramadan when Muslims fast for 30 days. Food and drink is eaten together daily before dawn and after sunset.

Participants in the Fast-A-Thon pledged money to fast and all proceeds went to the Sabrina Memorial Foundation. The SMF was created in memory of Sabrina Salam who died from malaria in 2011 while helping humanity and making the world a better place.

The money raised through SMF benefits the small rural village of Jabusha, Bangladesh. Bangladesh is one of the poorest nations in the world where children are malnourished, schools are scarce and health facilities are poor. The Fast-A-Thon raised $1000 to empower and educate this community through education facilities and health care.

The Hughes-Trigg Ballroom was decorated with beautiful beaded tablecloths, candle centerpieces and family style food was served. Before entering the ballroom the Muslim community said Maghreb, or prayer, and dates where eaten to traditionally signify breaking the fast. Individuals greeted each other with the Arabic greeting “as-salamu alaykum” which translated to “peace be upon you.”

SMU Cox Business School Alum, entrepreneur, and mother of extremely polite Zain, Yasmeen Tadia said fasting “is a spiritual cleansing, all my senses are heightened.” Tadia organized this same event in 2004 and said, “It has come such a long way.”

Video footage showed both Muslim and non-Muslim students explaining how they were feeling during their fast and why they were fasting. Almost every student was reminded of how many blessings they have in their life. One student even gave up Snapchat in honor of the Fast-A-Thon.

Non-Muslim SMU student Paul Lujan explained why he chose to participate in Fast-A-Thon with one word, “Solidarity.”

At the end of the program members of MSA recognized their executive members with humorous facts about each student and words of thanks for their hard work and contribution to the community.

SMU Dean of Student Life Dr. Joanne Vogel said, “I continue to be impressed” after only nine months in her current position.

Suleiman ended his speech quoting President Ronald Reagan, “We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone.” Members of the community who attended Fast-A-Thon showed great gratitude, their urge to help others and kindness through the Muslim tradition of fasting.

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