By: Sarah Frier, Staff Writer

Issue date: 9/24/07 Section: Features

Students, parents and community members gathered at the Great Hall in the Student Union on Sunday to break their Ramadan fasts and give to charity at the third-annual Triangle Iftaar.

The event was co-hosted by the Muslim Student Association branches at UNC, Duke University and N.C. State University.

“It’s a goal of MSA to bring everybody together as much as possible,” said Sarah Oraby, MSA president at N.C. State. “It’s part of a tradition that we break our fast with families and people we love.”

Ramadan is the most important holiday in Islam, representing when the Quran was sent from heaven. This year, it lasts from Sept. 13 to Oct. 11. Muslims fast from sunup to sundown during the holy month.

At Sunday’s Iftaar, attendees broke their fast with a date and pakora – a fried potato vegetable ball.

The main purpose of the event was to raise funds for charity, said Kamran Tariq, publicity coordinator of UNC’s MSA branch.

Since the Triangle Iftaar became a fundraising event in 2005, it has raised almost $40,000, giving the funds to international charity Islamic Relief to help orphans. This year, donors will sponsor orphans that were victims of a flood in Bangladesh.

“I’m out to help the less fortunate people in our community and across the world that you don’t see,” Tariq said.

Naeem Mohamed, an Islamic Relief representative who spoke at the event, said there is still a great need for aid for flood victims.

“Islam people are inclined to giving and donating to the poor and less fortunate,” Tariq said. “Especially during Ramadan, the holiest month on the Islam calendar.”

Fundraising is the first goal of the MSA, Oraby said. “But for the people here, it’s more of a chance to get together and see people.”

Next week is Islamic Awareness Week in the Pit. MSA’s Fast-A-Thon – during which students will be sponsored for Ramadan fasting to benefit charities – will begin Oct. 3.

“That’s the event where we try to get new people to participate,” said Maryam Al-Zaburi, social coordinator for UNC’s MSA.

Though Iftaar attendee Aziza Shanab, a nursing student at Wake Technical Community College, does not attend any of the three schools sponsoring the Iftaar, she said she knew most of the people at the event.

“There’s really a strong community feeling amongst Muslims,” Shanab said. “We see each other at mosque or know each other from the private schools we went to.”

But Sunday’s Iftaar also saw new faces.

Jewish graduate student Sarah Friedman said she knew nothing about Islam, but she bowed with Muslims in prayer toward Mecca.

“I thought it would be interesting to come see what this was like,” Friedman said. “The prayer is almost the same and a lot of the points they make are the same.”

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