by Isra’a Ilyas

Fast-A-Thon at the University of Florida is truly one of a kind. It is IOC’s largest dawah event, inviting up to 800 guests each year, and raising over $5000 to donate to a local, and global charity. FAT has a special place in my heart, it was the first event that allowed me to really get involved on campus and learn the behind the scenes of how IOC and other student organizations play a key role in educating students and the rest of the gainesville population. 

After 2 years of being on the FAT committee, I was blessed with the opportunity to strengthen my leadership skills as FAT Chair. I want to say that being FAT Chair was probably my first experience as the head of a large scale program. I am extremely grateful for this experience and I am glad to say that FAT really helped me realize my life goals and who I want to be in the future. I am also proud to say that I have definitely grown more open-minded and passionate about the muslim community. I hope to be someone whose intentions are always to help, educate, and create love within the community for the sake of Allah. 

This year’s theme for FAT was chosen to be Rising Together, we chose this theme with the intention of emphasizing that all members of a society must be uplifted in order for that society to truly rise. We want to recognize the importance of aiding those who are going through hardships when they need it most, with the goal of making sure every person has access to the resources they need. The Prophet Muhammad, peace upon be him, said: “The example of the believers in their affection, mercy, and compassion for one another is like that of a body: whenever one limb aiks, the whole body reacts by losing sleep and feeling fever.” The essence of our theme is that we are all one unit: when one of us hurts, we all hurt. And, when one of us is in need, we should all offer support so that we can rise together.

With the help of the community and IOC members, we were able to fundraise and donate it to the Edhi Foundation in Pakistan, and ICNA Relief’s women shelters across Florida. Over a month and a half we were able to raise $4153. We sold t-shirts, held auctions, created games and organized so many ways for students on campus to donate to the cause. I would like to thank every single person who donated and helped to reach our fundraising goal.

I would also like to recognize our FAT volunteers. FAT would not be anything without our wonderful volunteers that help greet and serve guests up front, and make and organize plates of food in the back. I really appreciate all of you that signed up to make FAT one of the most enjoyable events for our guests. I also want to give a shoutout to one of our most outstanding volunteers, Mohammad Taha. He spent countless hours helping to flyer and advertise this event. He is one of those people who always says yes to a favor before even knowing what it is, and he is also one of the most passionate and driven people I have ever met. These are qualities that I really admire, and I ask Allah to continue to bless him and put barakah in all of his efforts, and make all the work that he does for people a sadaqah jariyah for him, ameen.

I want to end by saying that FAT was made into such a growing experience for me because of the people I worked with. I was truly blessed to have Fahad Bhullar, Akram Weheba, Yasir Nagi, and Maliha Khan as my FAT committee, and to the best of my ability I tried to create a fun experience for them all and to acknowledge and listen to their ideas for the success of this grand event. Though they may not realize it, these people have really helped me in countless ways, and I truly acknowledge their critiques and advice on everything. Other people outside of my committee worth mentioning for their hard work and dedication are Eri Vishka, Hajra Saeed, and Wafaa Ateyah. I ask Allah to reward them for their hard work, and I ask Allah to create love within their hearts for the deen and the community, and I ask Allah to grant them all a special place near Him in Jannah, ameen.