Fort McMurray All Set to Observe the Holy Month of Ramadan
Muslims are getting ready for the best time of the year – the holy month of Ramadan. Projected to begin next week on April 13, 2021 pending lunar sighting – Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and is marked with fasting – abstaining from eating and drinking from sunrise to sunset, which is about 17 to 18 hours locally. And, yes, not even water is allowed.
The early dawn meal is known as “Sahoor,” or “Sehri,” as fellow Pakistanis call it in Urdu; and the fast is broken with “Iftar,” the evening meal, which is often a veritable feast of snacks and dinner entrees depending on cultural preferences.
The Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo is home to an estimated 10,000 Muslims, who celebrate the end of Ramadan with Eid-ul-Fitar. It is a three-day festival and will be held on either May 12 or 13 depending on the lunar calendar.
Shaikh Abdurrahmann Murad, one of the leaders of the Islamic congregation of Markaz ul Islam, the Islamic Centre of Fort McMurray has lived in Fort McMurray for over seven years. He explains the importance of the holy month.
“Ramadan is important to Muslims because it is a month of mercy, blessings and forgiveness. It is a time for self-reflection, spiritual growth and it builds within a Muslim a keen sense of empathy.”
“A Muslim fasts from the break of dawn until sunset, regardless of the season Ramadan is observed in. The elderly, sick, young and pregnant women are exempt from fasting. The observance of Ramadan would not differ from how it is being done now to pre-COVID times. Of course, all Alberta Health Services (AHS) guidelines are observed when prayers are performed at the Mosque,” added Shaikh Murad.
Speaking of AHS guidelines, Mohammed-Ali Al-Zabidi, President, Markaz ul Islam, who has been in been in Fort McMurray since 2008 - shares the 20,000 ft square new multipurpose Mosque located on Abraham’s Land in Dickinsfield is ready for Taraweeh – special night prayers for Ramadan. The downtown Mosque will also host the prayers to accommodate congregants while observing COVID protocols.
“Due to the 15 per cent cap restriction, we already host two weekly Friday prayers at the new Mosque. Markaz management has implemented very strict COVID-19 measures featuring online registration, checking everyone’s temperature, mandatory mask checking, and requiring the use of personal prayer mats. A full-time custodian constantly cleans high-touch points. Additionally, we have multiple exit doors, which prevent any contact; we also send consistent reminders to all members to adhere to AHS guidelines as part of our operations.”
Muslims also engage in increased charity, generosity, and service during the month as it is a spiritual time when worldly tasks take a backburner. No, you don’t stop going to work, or run errands, but religion takes precedence over other things. It’s a time of patience, and perseverance demonstrating solidarity with those who don’t have three meals a day.
Research has also shown the many benefits of fasting ranging from controlled blood sugar due to the decreased amount of food intake, better blood pressure and cholesterol levels, to name a few.
Here’s to a Happy Ramadan to all fellow Muslims observing the blessed month. May we become better humans regardless of race and religion for everyone – ultimately that is exactly what Islam and Ramadan happen to be about.