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Hundreds Pledge to Fast for World Hunger

By Charles F. Pollak, Contributing Writer

In order to draw attention to starvation worldwide, The Harvard Islamic Society (HIS) has organized a Fast-a-thon for today timed to the final day of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Harvard University Dining Services (HUDS) and local businesses will donate money on behalf of participants to the Save the Children Foundation. The fast will conclude with a break fast in the Lowell dining hall at 4:30 PM. Food will be served and there will be a short discussion about the significance of Ramadan as well.

HIS President Rameez A. Qudsi ‘06 spoke enthusiastically about the purpose of the Fast-a-thon. “This event is a great way to give back and raise money while having an interfaith dialogue,” he said. “This should be fun and social but educational as well.”

With roughly 500 participants in total, more than 400 signed up for the break fast in the Lowell dining hall. This exceeds the 275 space limit for the room, yet Qudsi is sure that any overflow can be accommodated by the Lowell JCR.

Originally conceived by the Muslim Students Association (MSA) chapter at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, this year marks the third annual nationwide Fast-a-thon coordinated by the MSA. HIS, however, is holding the event today instead of October 26, when the nationwide Fast-a-thon took place.

Ramadan began this year on October 15 and concludes with today’s fast. For every day of the holiday, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. They observe this holiday according to the HIS web site, “as an act of submission, solidarity, and remembrance.”

Not only religious in nature, this fast is intended to draw attention to malnutrition as a daily fact of life for many.

With funding from HUDS, the HIS has organized break fast meals every day of the holiday this year in Ticknor Lounge, taking into account Muslim dietary restrictions.

Muslims traditionally eat Halal meat only, which is processed by allowing for the animal’s blood to be drained when it is slaughtered. HUDS provides Halal meat throughout the year and assists Muslim students with special Thursday night diners at the Adams dining hall.

With anti-Muslim sentiment a concern after September 11, this event is as much about raising awareness about Islam and educating people of other faiths as anything else. “This is a way to teach people about Ramadan, a holiday which many people don’t know about or understand,” Qudsi said.

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