About 300 people on campus didn’t eat or drink between 5:22 a.m. and 7:34 p.m. Wednesday, avoiding water fountains and enduring growling stomachs.
Whether Muslim or just interested in the annual monthlong holiday, participants in the Fast-A-Thon fundraiser abstained from food and drink to appreciate the plight of the hungry and poor while improving their inner spirituality.
The event, inspired by the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, was sponsored by the Muslim Students Association.
All proceeds from the event will be donated to the Urban Ministry for Project Downtown, an educational and food service program helping the poor in Durham.
Muslim Students Association President Sana Khan, who was impressed by the turnout for the event, said that about 70 percent of the participants were not Muslim.
Participants were asked to donate $5, the approximate price they would have paid for lunch Wednesday. The event raised about $1,000, Khan said.
“I thought the donations would limit the numbers, but it’s been pretty impressive that we have almost 300 people,” Khan said.
After sundown, participants gathered in the Great Hall of the Student Union to break their fast.
They ate cake and Biryani, an Indian rice dish made with spices, assorted meat and vegetables.
The gathering featured entertainment acts and student testimonials about the experience of fasting.
Mohammad Moussa, a sophomore from N. C. State University, gave a humorous spoken-word performance in which he suggested using an IV to bypass the rule prohibiting the consumption of food or drink during daylight hours.
Moussa also jokingly complained about having to watch others eat during the day.
April Vinson, a senior nursing major, spoke after Moussa’s performance about her own fasting experience.
“Fasting makes you want food you don’t usually want,” Vinson said.
She described how she usually doesn’t find V8 juice appetizing, but in the morning when she saw a commercial on television she thought, “Mmm, that looks good.”
Like most of the Fast-A-Thon participants, Vinson is not a Muslim.
She said she is a Christian and that fasting helps strengthen her faith.
“Every time my stomach growled today or my mouth felt parched, I was reminded that God has a purpose for me,” Vinson said.
Brian Pritchett, also a Christian, said he decided to participate because his friends encouraged him to do so.
“I have several friends involved with MSA,” the junior public policy major said. “It’s an easy way to get involved with your friends and the community.”
Reflecting back on a long day without food or drink, Pritchett said fasting wasn’t as bad as it sounds.
“It wasn’t really that bad, but not being able to drink water was tough,” he said.
“It’s a big campus.”
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