“I didn’t think I would get this here,” Shakil Hossain ’14 says after seeing 170 Muslim and non-Muslim students and other guests from the Hamilton community take part in the Muslim Student Association’s annual Fast-o-thon commemorating the conclusion of Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar.
Hossain, who comes from Miami, is a new member of the MSA, and he has brought a high standard of devoutness and diligence to the occasion. He has fasted rigorously for all 30 days of Ramadan at Hamilton, going to the gym during the day to make the experience even more challenging. (In high school, he fasted during football practice and weight training.)
For the past four years, the Fast-o-thon has been bringing people together for one day as they go from sunrise to sunset without food or water, abstaining as well from sexual activities and spitefulness, something Muslims are required to do for an entire month. At dusk, students, professors and guests come together in Tolles Pavilion for their iftar or break-fast, delivered from a local restaurant. Hamilton’s caterer, Bon Appétit, donates $5 per participating student to a charity. This year’s iftar, the largest ever at Hamilton, will benefit relief efforts in Pakistan following catastrophic floods. It also coincides with an ongoing dispute over the construction of an Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero in Manhattan.
Since arriving at Hamilton, Hossain has been driving Muslim students to the nearest mosque in Utica and is eager to participate in more interfaith activities offered by the MSA, the Chaplaincy and other organizations on campus. Hossain finds himself pleased by Hamilton’s tolerance and promotion of Islamic culture. “This community is just what my family and I wanted,” he says.