Muslims in Brandon began the annual fast for Ramadan over the weekend. They will continue to fast for 29 or 30 days, marking the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar.
“Ramadan teaches us self- restraint,” said Muhammad Abidullah. “It is not just about fasting, also learning self-restraint in other parts of your life.”
Ramadan is a major Islamic tradition dating back centuries. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast between dawn and dusk each day.
In addition to fasting, Muslims also aim to recite the entire Qur’an.
“There are people that have taken a lot of time to learn the Qur’an by heart,” Abidullah said. “They lead us in reciting it at the night prayer, more each day to be finished by the end of the month of Ramadan.”
For the first time, the Manitoba government has marked the beginning of Ramadan.
Multiculturalism Minister Flor Marcelino put out an open invitation to join her on Thursday at the legislative building for a celebration to mark the start of Ramadan.
“It is great to see the government recognizing the contributions of Muslims to the community,” Abidullah said. “It is a positive step and we definitely appreciate it.”
There are other positives steps that Abidullah said could be taken by the government and other organizations to make Ramadan even better for local Muslim communities.
One would be making people aware of Ramadan and Eid — the feast to break the Ramadan fast.
“A small note would go a long way,” Abidullah said. “Just something saying be mindful of this.”
Although many people know what Ramadan is, many do not know when it is happening because it changes from year to year.
“Each year Ramadan is 12 days earlier,” Abidullah explains. “The Islamic lunar calendar is about 353 days compared to the standard 365 day calendar.”
It is easier for young children fasting this year because it happens during summer holidays, Abidullah said. Next year, when the children are at school, it will be more difficult.
He suggests sending a note to teachers and staff explaining Ramadan and letting them know when it will be happening.
This type of small acknowledgement could be very helpful in both school and work settings.
Depending on the time of year and location, the amount of time Muslims will fast varies. This year, the longest fast will be in Iceland for almost 22 hours and the shortest in Australia with only 10 hours between dawn and sunset.
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