(Photo courtesy of LaunchGood.com)

By YOUSUF ALI, Opinions Editor

On Thursday, Feb. 9, the University of Michigan-Dearborn’s Muslim Students’ Association hosted their fourth annual Fast-a-Thon event.

The event involved its participants giving a $10 donation and pledging to fast between the times of Islamic pre-dawn (subh or fajr) and sunset (maghrib prayers), a time period lasting approximately 12 hours.

During that time, fasting individuals were to completely abstain from eating or drinking.

When it came time to break the fast, individuals gathered in Kochoff Hall to complete the ritual. Participants were told to be in Kochoff Hall at 5:30 pm, so they would be ready to break the fast about half an hour later.

When the time came, MSA E-Board member Elmi Habib gave the Islamic call to prayer (adhan) announcing the start of the maghrib prayer and by extension, the time to break the fast. As soon as the adhan was called, participants broke their fasts with dates passed out by the Student Government President Fiana Arbab. 10 minutes later, the Muslims congregated to perform the maghrib prayer after which, a larger meal was served.

After this meal, the program began with MSA President Suhaib Hashem emceeing. The first item on the agenda involved UM-Dearborn student Mohammed Abbas reciting three verses (261-63) from the second surah (chapter) of the Qur’an.

After this, President Hashem introduced the keynote speaker, Shaikh Mohammed Ishtiaq, who is a Muslim chaplain at the University of Michigan.

Shaikh Ishtiaq’s speech emphasized the role of fasting in self-improvement. He started the talk by quoting a verse from the Qur’an, which said that fasting was commanded for people so that they may attain righteousness (2:183).

From this verse, he stressed that fasting can be a way through which Muslims and people of other faiths could connect. He gave examples of an earlier collaboration in which Muslim and Jewish students in Ann Arbor broke their fast together in joint celebration of Ashura and Yom Kippur. He also highlighted challenges including an earlier act of vandalism involving the defiling of an Islamic prayer rug at the Shapiro Undergraduate Library in Ann Arbor.

In light of these challenges, the Shaikh stressed that Muslims maintain their connect with God through fasting and prayer in these hard times.

After the Shaikh finished speaking, the event concluded with students of all faiths and no faith socializing with one another and sharing their experiences fasting.