COLUMBIA — During the holy month of Ramadan, members of the MU Muslim Student Organization are reaching out to fellow students to help educate them about Islamic beliefs and traditions.
Members of the organization invited their non-Muslim friends and fellow students to share in the fast with them for one day, to experience what it's like. On Thursday, MSO held a Fast-a-thon, an event where non-Muslim students fast as part of a fundraiser.
At sundown, participants were invited to come participate in the tradition of iftar, or breaking the fast.
"I'd say we had around 25 to 30 people pledge that are here tonight," said Mahir Khan, a member of the organization. He thought there were probably a few more who participated who weren't able to come break the fast.
Despite missing a few participants, around 100 people gathered in Memorial Union for the event. The group was a mixture of Muslims and non-Muslims, all talking about their experience that day.
While they were waiting for the sun to go down, MSO's educational chair, Arwa Mohammad, made a short presentation about Islam. She briefly explained the articles of faith and the five pillars of Islam. She also discussed the importance of fasting, prayer and Ramadan.
At 7:32 p.m., the call to prayer was made, and people in attendance began to drink water and eat dates, a traditional food for breaking the fast. Then the group lined up and feasted on a buffet of homemade food prepared by members of the organization.
As people continued talking during the meal, many non-Muslim students shared their challenges.
"The hardest part was trying to study for an exam with no food," said Brooke Aden, a non-Muslim participant.
Several people agreed that the hardest part was not being able to drink water. Others said they almost forgot at times and started to eat.
Overall, MSO members said they felt the event was very successful.
"It's a lot more people than we expected," said Nuzhat Chowdhury. "The turnout is great."
The Fast-a-thon is a fundraiser for the Central Missouri Food Bank. The organization asks local businesses to pledge a donation for every non-Muslim participant.