Muslims at Memorial University to hold fast-a-thon

The Muslim community at Memorial University is inviting non-Muslims to experience Ramadan by fasting for a day on Friday.

The group’s fast-a-thon involves abstaining from eating and drinking during daylight hours, and contributing to charity.

“As Muslims, we think we should get everyone involved, and do our part for people in need,” said Ahmed Khawer, the vice-president of the Muslim Students’ Association at Memorial University.

Khawer said the association on Friday will raise money for earthquake victims in Nepal and for refugees in Syria.

“We usually raise money as pledges for people in other countries who don’t have food and are less fortunate and are starving and fasting their whole lives without a choice.”

Ramadan, the Muslim period of spiritual reflection and fasting for during daylight hours, began on June 17 and will end on July 18.

Muslim students at Memorial have been gathering for prayers and evening meals, called Iftar, since the start of Ramadan.

A month-long challenge

Daily fasting is a challenge for many local Muslims, said Mona Shannir, a Memorial University student and member of the Muslim Students’ Association.

There are about 18 hours of daylight in St. John’s at this time of year.

“For me, personally, thirst is what gets me most of the time,” said Mona Shannir, a Memorial University student and member of the Muslim Students’ Association.

Yogurt and dates
Muslims break their daily Ramadan fast with a traditional snack of yogurt and dates. (Heather Barrett/CBC )yogurt-and-dates

“It`s summertime now, and I tend to get a bit dehydrated.”

Shannir joined a group at the student centre for evening prayers and the meal called Iftar, which breaks the daily fast.

The group ended their daily fast with a traditional snack of dates, yogurt and water. Then they had a short group prayer. After the prayer, they ate an evening meal of chicken, spinach, and rice, with Tim Hortons doughnuts for dessert.

Pacing is key

Shannir said her strategy for getting through the month is to pace herself.

“When you’re fasting for that amount of hours, your stomach is like, `Okay, you only have one or two spoons and you’re feeling full already.’ she said.

“But a lot of us tend to ignore that, because ‘No no no, I’m hungry,’ this is my stomach telling me ‘I don’t agree with this,’ so we tend to eat and overfill ourselves and that’s not very healthy.”

Shannir said after Iftar, she planned to snack on fruit and drinks lots of water, before resuming her fast in the early morning hours.

Khawer said anyone who wants to take part in Friday`s Fast a Thon can contact the Muslim Students Association via email or on Twitter @MUNMSA.