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Muslim Student Association fasts, fundraises for mental-health awareness

The Muslim Student Association hosts a panel to draw attention to mental wellness in minority groups. Credit: Dominique Johnson

The Muslim Student Association hosts a panel to draw attention to mental wellness in minority groups. Credit: Dominique Johnson

For the past 10 years, the Muslim Students’ Association has fasted for a selected country in need, but they decided to take on a new challenge this year: mental health.

The MSA hosted its annual fundraiser dinner, the Fast-A-Thon, on Thursday night in the Ohio Union in an effort to challenge stigmas surrounding mental health, especially in multicultural communities. They also wanted to explore the religious traditions of Islam, Christianity, Sikhism and Hinduism and their celebration of mental wellness.

Amber Hussain, co-chair for the event and a third-year in neuroscience, said the fasting period before the dinner creates a sense of community, but MSA wanted to make more people feel a part of that community this year.

“Every time we came up with a country that we wanted to do. We thought well that doesn’t affect everyone,” Hussain said. “(Mental health) is something that could really affect everyone.”

The dinner, hosted by Hussain and her co-chair Yusef Saeed, a third-year in neuroscience, opened up with words from Senior Vice President for Student Life Javaune Adams-Gaston. Adams-Gaston said nearly 58 percent of college students struggle with their mental health at some point in their college career.

Adams-Gaston said all students deserve the support and means to get better, especially in minority communities.

The pain and suffering goes untreated because we believe it is not acceptable,” Adams-Gaston said. “We need to change the culture and get mental health out of the darkness and into the light.”

The night continued with a panel of mental health experts ranging from psychiatrists to neuroscientists, who all gave their advice and perspectives on the topic. They all stressed the importance of getting help when needed. The stigma surrounding mental health was also addressed by each panelist.

“If I asked everyone to stand up, we would look differently at someone with the flu shot and someone who’s gotten counseling (for mental health) in the last year,” said Dr. Mickey Sharma, director of the Counseling and Consultation Service at OSU. “When we look at people differently, that, my friends, is stigma.”

Sharma also said that it is important to open up the dialogue, support one another and avoid silence.

The night concluded with Hussain urging all attendees to make a donation to the Refugee Health and Wellness Branch of Community Refugee and Immigration Services, a local refugee organization. Proceeds from the dinner went to CRIS, in order to benefit newly arrived refugees and immigrants.

 “We in no way defeated stigma against mental health tonight, but it was a start,” said Hussain. “All we needed was to have the conversation. It was a risk, but we are happy with how it turned out and the tremendous support we received from the university.”


  1. Jonathon Daniels

    These hate groups shouldn’t be allowed to exist on campus. This is a vicious moon god cult.

  2. Why do Muslim charities generally attend to the needs of Muslims only? Why are Muslims in need more likely to receive help from Western and Chrisitan charities?

    Muslims are not told to assist non-Muslims. To do so is a waste of money, because unbelievers are going to Hell anyway. The Quran and Hadith order money to flow either between Muslims or from non-Muslims to Muslims (the jizya in Quran 9:29).
    Neither is the Islamic community particularly keen on disaster relief, even for Muslim victims. This is because the Quran teaches that the disasters which befall communities are a punishment from Allah.

  3. Quran

    Natural disaster is ordained by Allah:
    Quran (9:51) – “Nothing will afflict us save what Allah has ordained for us”

    Quran (11:117) – “Nor would thy Lord be the One to destroy communities for a single wrong-doing, if its members were likely to mend.”

    Quran (28:59) – “…And never did We destroy the townships unless the folk thereof were evil-doers.” ‘We’ refers to Allah. This verse refers to natural disaster.

    Quran (57:22) – “No misfortune can happen on earth or in your souls but is recorded in a decree before We bring it into existence: That is truly easy for Allah.” Allah wills misfortune in advance.

    Quran (42:30) – “Whatever misfortune happens to you, is because on the things your hands have wrought” Your sin is solely responsible for any misfortune in your life.

    Quran (28:17) – “O my Lord!… never shall I be a help to those who sin!” Taken with the above verses (57:22 and 42:30), this provides the logical argument that helping victims of disaster is actually against Allah’s will, since the unfortunates are merely suffering Allah’s punishment for sin and Muslims are not to help those in sin.

    Quran (64:11) – “No calamity befalleth save by Allah’s leave…”

    Quran (90:4) – “Verily We have created man into toil and struggle.”

    Those who are blessed by Allah insult Allah by giving away their “gifts” to those whom Allah has not favored:

    Quran (16:71) – “Allah has bestowed His gifts of sustenance more freely on some of you than on others: those more favored are not going to throw back their gifts to those whom their right hands possess, so as to be equal in that respect. Will they then deny the favors of Allah?”

    Charity to non-Muslims? No. Muslims are told that non-believers are the “vilest of animals” and commanded to be ruthless toward them:

    Quran (8:55) – “Surely the vilest of animals in Allah’s sight are those who disbelieve”

    Quran (28:86) – “Never be a helper to the unbelievers.”

    Quran (48:29) – Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are hard (ruthless) against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves

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