Prince Edward Island’s Muslim community returns to in-person Ramadan celebrations as COVID measures lift
SUMMERSIDE, PEI — When Farah Al-behadili was planning Ramadan in Summerside last year, it was more difficult than usual due to size restrictions.
COVID-19 meant fewer people gathering and more long distance calls.
Although Al-behadili will always call his family to the Middle East, the most social parts of the month will return to Prince Edward Island this year with the lifting of COVID-19 measures on April 7.
The timing is perfect, Al-behadili said of the holy month which begins on April 1.
“We feel like we’re back to normal life. So it’s like two in one: celebrating Ramadan and celebrating the return to normal life this year. »
Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and the one in which Muslims fast from dawn to dusk in order to understand the struggle of people living with hunger and ultimately draw closer to God, Al-behadili said.
Exceptions are made for children, pregnant women, sick people and those taking medication.
For those who can fast, that includes everything from water and bread to cigarettes and coffee, Al-behadili said.
But, fasting isn’t really difficult, she added.
“If you try it with the intention in your heart to purify your soul, you will find it so easy. I myself feel healthier, lighter and more active during Ramadan when I fast than when I’m busy.
However, Ramadan is not just about renewing yourself.
“The act of fasting is to redirect our hearts, minds and souls away from worldly activities, in order to purify them, freeing them from all harmful (things),” Al-behadili said, explaining how to help others is the most important thing.
“It’s a reminder of how important it is to help your community and to be active in one of these donations.”
Najam Chishti, president of the Muslim Society of Prince Edward Island, says Muslim households who can afford it are also asked to donate $10 per household member for fitra, which will help families in need to celebrate Eid at the end of Ramadan.
“We collect them and then try to distribute them as soon as we receive them, so families in need can use the money to buy gifts, new clothes and, of course, groceries to feed their families.”
The Charlottetown Mosque (Masjid Dar As-Salam) will hold an annual food basket campaign, in addition to feeding 35-40 families at the mosque each night during the breaking of the fast.
While Al-behadili will mainly gather with his family on weekends to break the fast, Chishti expects hundreds of worshipers at the mosque throughout the week, with prayers and meals ending after midnight at the end of the month.
For those unable to participate in the fast for whatever reason, these evenings also provide an opportunity to stay involved, Chishti said.
“They are trying to feed a fasting person. So, in this way, they get the same reward. … They all participate; This is the main.”
Although it is a month of reflection and prayer, both Al-behadili and Chishti were clear that Ramadan is a celebration – of love, faith and community.
Yet perhaps the greatest celebration comes at the end, with the marking of Eid al-Fitr.
“We buy new clothes for the children. We buy them presents. We will have a treat and a decoration. It’s like Easter, Christmas,” Al-behadili said.
In one look :
Annual collection of food baskets:
- The Charlottetown Mosque (Masjid Dar As-Salam) aims to feed 30 families in Prince Edward Island.
- The mosque’s youth committee will prepare food baskets once a week.
- Non-perishable items can be dropped off at 15 MacAleer Dr.
Logan MacLean is a diversity reporter with the SaltWire Network in Prince Edward Island.