Brandon’s Muslim community marked the end of Ramadan with morning prayers followed by a day of feasting with friends and family.
More than 100 people gathered at the Brandon Islamic Centre on Monday morning to celebrate Eid al-Fitr — a festival that marks the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
"The feeling is one of jubilation," Faiz Ahmad said with a smile standing inside the centre. "We look forward to this month and we also look forward to the end of Ramadan when we celebrate this joyous day."
Ramadan is a major Islamic tradition dating back centuries. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast between dawn and dusk each day for the purpose of spiritual cleansing.
"It’s a test of patience," Ahmad explained, adding that abstaining from food and water for sometimes up to 18 hours can be a real challenge. "One month is a long time to test your patience for everything."
Men and women took turns filling their plates with delicious treats and sipping refreshments yesterday while children played with balloons and toys in the background. Monday morning’s feast was followed by visiting with friends and family and a potluck dinner at the centre. They also had a cricket tournament planned for the children at the Kirkcaldy Heights School grounds.
Ahmad said roughly 250 people young and old participated locally in Ramadan this year, a sure sign Brandon’s Muslim community is on the rise.
"The community is growing quite rapidly here. Not too long ago, we were only just a few families," he said. "The beauty is that these families represent all walks of life, different countries.
"We have an international gathering every time we are here."
In recent years, Ahmad said he has also noticed stronger community support for Islamic traditions.
"It’s a religion of good behaviour and good humanity, just being a good human being," he said. "It’s a religion of peace and some people see it and they want to join."
Ramadan marks the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, which celebrates the revealing of the Qur'an, the central text for Muslims all over the world.
During the 30 days of Ramadan, Muslims pray to God up to five times daily and take time for reflection, devotion, generosity and sacrifice.
Ahmad said it’s mandatory once you turn 18 to participate in the fasting ritual, but some children choose to start even earlier. Farheen Sajjad, 20, said she started fasting when she turned 12.
"At first it’s difficult, but then you just kind of get used to the routine. It becomes like a normal day for you," she said.
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