Ramadan is the Arabic name for the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. It is the holiest month of the year and begins with the first sighting of the new moon. The annual observance of the month of Ramadan is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam (faith, prayer, almsgiving, fasting and pilgrimage). History dictates that all scripture within the Quran was revealed during the month of Ramadan, providing guidance to mankind. Daily prayers, recitation of the Quran and attending Taraweeh (additional night prayer at the mosque) are highly encouraged.
The month of Ramadan is marked by the act of fasting. Fasting is considered an act of worship, allowing to redirect the heart away from worldly activities and the soul to be cleansed from harmful impurities. Practices of self-control, spiritual reflection, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate are highlighted. Prominently, acts of charity and generosity are encouraged.
Muslims will fast from sunrise to sunset, avoiding eating or drinking throughout the day. To begin the fast, they will have an early morning meal before dawn known as suhoor, and then breaking fast after sunset by having an evening meal, known as iftar.
To prepare for Ramadan, my family and I will make a few of our favourite iftar items from scratch including spring rolls and samosas, making them in bulk and then frying them each evening. One of our favourite Ramadan drinks to make is called Rooh Afza – it is known as the ‘Summer Drink of the East’. The syrup is usually mixed with water or milk and its refreshing flavour comes from its signature ingredients, rose water and screw pine essence. When breaking fast at the end of the day, the evening meal is begun by eating dates to commemorate the Prophet Muhammad’s practice of breaking fast with three dates.
The end of the month is marked by the joyous holiday celebration of Eid-al-Fitr. The day begins with attending Eid prayers at the mosque where everyone greets each other by saying ‘Eid Mubarak’ translating to ‘Happy Eid/Have a blessed Eid’.
Some common Eid traditions include decorating your home with lights/candles/flowers, eating traditional meals and desserts, inviting and spending time with friends and family, dressing in your best traditional garments, women decorating their hands with mehndi (henna tattoos), giving children gifts (most commonly in the form of money) and generous charity to those less fortunate.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this will be the second year Muslims across the world will be observing the month of Ramadan in lockdown protocols. Although some traditions have been halted (i.e. Iftar/Eid gatherings, mosque prayers etc.), individuals continue to participate in the observance of the month with safety measures in place.
Wishing you and your family a safe and happy month. Ramadan Mubarak!
— Submitted by Zarlaqsh Saad, an Administrative Coordinator – In-Home Supports. Zarlaqsh also sits on Community Care Durham’s new Ethics, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. The EEIC’s purpose is to foster a just and inclusive culture where individuality and a sense of belonging drive excellence in community and in-home supports throughout the organization. By doing so, the EEIC upholds the protections specified in the 1962 Ontario Human Rights Code.