The University of Tennessee community will have a chance Monday to learn about Islam, a major world religion, through an event raising funds for a local charity, the Love Kitchen.
Fast-A-Thon began at UT after 9/11 and has since become a larger movement, according to a recent article in Newsweek magazine. More than 250 colleges are expected to participate this year.
The Muslim Student Association and TeamVols are responsible for the one-day fast, during which participants pledge to abstain from all food and liquid from 6:15 a.m. to 7:10 p.m. Muslims and non–Muslims will break their fast together with a 7:15 p.m. dinner in the University Center Ballroom.
The dinner will feature speakers and offer a chance for students to freely talk about their experiences of fasting for a day, according to Amber Qureshi, a sophomore in biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology and secretary of the Muslim association.
Sarah Bounse, a sophomore in English literature and vice president of the association, said the Fast-A-Thon will achieve three goals: It will raise awareness about Islam, create a bond between Muslim and non-Muslim students on campus and raise money for the Love Kitchen.
“For every non-Muslim student or staff member ... local businesses and families in Knoxville donate $2 to the Love Kitchen,” Bounse said.
According to its Web site, the Love Kitchen is a local food bank that provides meals, clothing and emergency food packages to people in need. Also known as the Soup Kitchen, the venue operates completely off donations.
Bounse said the Fast-A-Thon will help strengthen ties by allowing other students — nearly 1,000 each year — to experience what Muslims are doing every day during Ramadan, a month of fasting in the Muslim calendar. More than 600 members of the university community have pledged to fast so far.
She also thinks the Fast-A-Thon will bring light to a serious issue.
“It opens people’s eyes to the hunger occurring in Knoxville every day,” she said. “Maybe without fasting, students would not realize how much effort it takes to not eat or drink and how difficult to have to do so would be.”
Mona Sheth, a junior in political science and Spanish, is a non-Muslim preparing for her third Fast-A-Thon.
“This is one of the more widespread activities that exists on campus, and it has such a noble intent that whatever your beliefs may be, this is something you can be a part of. ... At the end of the day, you’re helping people.”
The fast will take place on Oct. 9. Students and faculty interested in participating may sign a pledge form at booths located in the UC and the Humanities Plaza from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today and Friday. Pledge forms may also be filled out online at