BRITISH Columbia’s 100,000 Muslims are celebrating the end of the month-long festival of fasting, Ramadan, with morning prayers in mosques, Islamic centers and public facilities around the province.
Ramadan is the month on the Islamic lunar calendar during which Muslims abstain from food, drink and other sensual pleasures from break of dawn to sunset.
The newest local mosque, Burnaby’s Masjid Al-Salaam and Education Centre, located at 5060 Canada Way (at Sperling, across from the Burnaby Village Museum), hosted one of the largest of these gatherings. The prayers were led by Imam Yahya Momla.
The prayers mark the beginning of Eid ul-Fitr, or “feast of fast breaking” holiday, in which Muslims exchange gifts and social visits and seek to strengthen bonds of brotherhood. During this holiday, Muslims greet each other by saying “Eid mubarak”, meaning “blessed Eid,” and many communities hold bazaars, parties, carnivals or feasts following the prayers.
Eid ul-Fitr is the first of the two major Muslim holidays. The second holiday comes at the end of the Hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca. There are over 1 million Muslims in Canada, and some 1.5 billion worldwide. The Muslim populations of Canada and Metro Vancouver are expected to triple by 2031 according to statistics Canada. A major Pew Forum report, titled “The Future of the Global Muslim Population” released in January 2011 estimated that the population of Muslims in Metro Vancouver would to rise to over 230,000 over 20 years.
During this year’s Ramadan, the Burnaby mosque served over 6,500 meals to those taking part in the fast over 30 days, with an average of 400 people gathering there each night. Muslims in this part of the world fasted for over 18 hours a day as Ramadan fell in the summer this year.
The Burnaby mosque was visited by Premier Christy Clark earlier this year. Federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and NDP leader Tom Mulcair also visited Lower Mainland mosques and took part in some of the religious activities recently.
“Eid al-Fitr, or the Festival of the Breaking of the Fast, marks the end of Ramadan, which is considered to be the holiest month of the year for Muslims in Canada and around the world.
“The month-long fast was a time to focus on spiritual renewal, almsgiving, and strengthening family and community relations.
“Eid al-Fitr also provides an opportunity for all Canadians to reflect on the contributions of Canada’s diverse Muslim community, numbering approximately one million people.
“Just last month, Laureen and I were pleased to host the first-ever Iftar reception at 24 Sussex with Muslim families of many backgrounds from across Canada. As I noted that evening, Ramadan is a special time that encourages humility, charity, family, community and faith, and I was delighted to have the opportunity to mark Iftar with members of the community.
“On behalf of all Canadians, Laureen and I wish everyone celebrating Eid al-Fitr health, happiness and success.
B.C. Premier Christy Clark issued the following statement marking Eid ul-Fitr:
“Today, British Columbians of the Muslim faith will celebrate Eid ul-Fitr, the last day of Ramadan. After a month of fasting from dawn to sunset, Muslims in B.C. and around the globe will break their fast with family and friends.”
“Eid ul-Fitr celebrates not only the end of fasting, but also the many blessings in each of our lives. It’s a time to reflect on the shared values of compassion, charity, and community that both Muslims and all British Columbians practise every day.
“One of our greatest strengths as a country, and as a province, is bringing together people of all faiths. I hope British Columbians will join their Muslim friends and neighbours in celebrating Eid.”