Liz O'Brien isn't Muslim, but she fasted from sunup to sundown on Thursday to learn more about the religion.
The interdisciplinary studies in social science sophomore attended a "Fast-A-Thon" in Holmes Hall that was sponsored by the Muslim Students' Association, or MSA. O'Brien said she learned the Islamic religion is not what she thought it was.
"I feel like I'll go from here with the knowledge that Islam is not about holy war or terrorism," she said.
MSA held the fast from sunrise to sunset for non-Muslim students so they could have the opportunity to experience what Muslim students go through during Ramadan, said Yusuf Begg, an economics senior and political action chairman for MSA. MSA also provided a discussion, video and dinner for students who signed up to fast.
"This event is so that people from MSU's campus can get a better understanding of what people on the other side of the world go through," he said.
To celebrate Ramadan, which runs from Sept. 24 to Oct. 23, Muslims don't eat or drink while the sun is up.
"It's not something that you do for God, it's something that you do for yourself," said Mohammad Fassia, a chemical physics freshman.
Fasting is done to remind Muslims of what hungry people feel like and to teach discipline, Begg said.
"The significance behind it is learning self-control and patience," Fassia said.
More than 100 non-Muslim students signed up for the fast and about 30 students came to the actual event in Holmes Hall. For every student who signed up, a $1 donation was made by MSA to the Greater Lansing Food Bank.
"You go hungry for a day so someone else doesn't have to," Begg said.
On Oct. 24, a day called Eid al-Fitr, many Muslim students will travel home to be with their families.
"You spend it with family and friends because the whole month you start appreciating what's important in your life, and when that month is done, you start it with those that you appreciate,"Azeza Bughrara said.
Bughrara, a human biology senior, said she began to realize the importance of Ramadan when she was 16 years old.
"I started understanding that it's not just staying away from food, it's so much more," she said.
Fassia said he continues to celebrate Ramadan and fast every year because it helps him focus and appreciate what he has.
"You are no longer attached to certain things, like hunger, that block your mind from something," Fassia said.
Some students who had never participated in a fast before didn't know what to expect.
"I've been thinking about food (all day)," O'Brien said. "I've been hungry, and I've been thinking that I'm privileged to not feel like this on a daily basis."