Muslim Student Association holds annual Fast-A-Thon and Iftaar

Butler MSA hosts a campus-wide Iftaar to celebrate Ramadan with the greater Butler community. Photo by Katerina Anderson.


From the evening of March 22 until the evening of April 20, nearly 2 billion Muslims worldwide will be observing the Islamic holy season of Ramadan. Taking place in the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam and serves as a time of reflection and spiritual cleansing. The holiday commemorates when the prophet Muhammed received the Quran, the religion’s holy text.

Ramadan is most commonly known by the fasting Muslims partake in at this time. To fast, Muslims do not consume any food or water from the moment the sun rises until it sets. In addition, practitioners are urged to fast from negative behaviors or practices, like gossiping, swearing or lying, and thus the act of fasting is spiritual as well as physical. 

To simulate this experience for non-Muslims at Butler, the Butler Muslim Student Association hosted its annual Fast-A-Thon and Iftaar on Tuesday, March 4. For this event, non-Muslims were encouraged to fast alongside their Muslim peers for the day, and reflect on their experience at the following Iftaar, or fast-breaking meal. 

Zayd Almaya, a sophomore biology major and MSA president, said approximately 30-40 non-Muslims participated in the full fast, with an additional 30 participating in a partial fast. In total, about 100 people attended the Iftaar. In creating this space at Butler, Almaya said that MSA sought to show the greater part of the community how Ramadan unites the Muslim community. 

“There’s a lot of large, community gatherings at night when you break your fast,” Almaya said. “[Ramadan] really brings the community together.” 

The MSA hosts this event annually, with the intention of teaching the greater Butler community about Islam and the importance of Ramadan. They hope to provide a hands-on opportunity to learn what the life of a Muslim looks like during this season. 

Yossra Daiya, a junior psychology-political science major and MSA executive board member, said this event is a great opportunity to teach the greater Butler community about her faith and celebrate her community. 

“It’s so nice to see the support from the Butler community and at the same time, be able to explain a little bit of our religion and why we [fast],” Daiya said. 

The event opened with an introductory presentation on Islam and Ramadan, providing common terminology and a quick history of the month and its significance. This year, the presentation was given by Imam Anisse Adni, the Muslim life advisor from Butler’s Center for Faith and Vocation

Following this presentation, MSA members broke their fast with prayer, and the Iftaar began. The meal consisted of a wide spread of Middle Eastern and South Asian food including chicken and lamb kabobs, samosas and vegetable biryani. This food was specifically chosen by MSA to represent the different ethnicities of students within the organization. 

Several non-MSA members participated in the Fast-A-Thon and shared their experiences with those in attendance. Senior English major Sebastian Perez-Sandoval said his fast was definitely an impactful experience, and gave him perspective on how Muslim students must be feeling at this time. 

“[That] was the only time I’ve participated in a fast,” Perez-Sandoval said. “Just imagine what it would be like if you had to be [that hungry] … you can feel the hunger … and you have to be a functioning college student.” 

Several MSA executive board members said they most enjoyed hearing the perspectives of non-Muslims regarding their fasting experiences. Almaya said it was rewarding to see the event’s turnout and hear the stories of those in attendance. 

“We put this all together, and [non-Muslims] were able to share what they got from it,” Almaya said. “Those experiences [are] what we’re going for.”

To see more of the MSA’s work and keep up to date on future events, find them on Instagram at @msabutler.


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