Imam Ismail Mohamed Nur addresses a gathering at City Hall with Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps to mark the beginning of Ramadan. (Nicole Crescenzi/VICTORIA NEWS)

City of Victoria shares launch of Ramadan with local imam

Month-long fast, other elements of Muslim celebration begin May 17; city to participate May 25

For the first time in Victoria, mayor and council invited an imam to City Hall to celebrate the beginning of the holy Islamic month of Ramadan.

“The City has been very good over the years at celebrating Christmas, we have carollers come in and sing for us,” said Mayor Lisa Helps during a recent ceremony. “And for many years there’s been a tradition on the first day Hanukkah to invite a rabbi to come in, and we light the menorah together.”

Helps was approached by Imam Ismail Mohamed Nur of Masjid al-Iman and asked what the City could do to help the community understand and celebrate Ramadan with the nearly 3,000 Muslims who live in Greater Victoria.

“The month of Ramadan is a blessed month for Muslims, it is a month of reflection, of charity and generosity,” Mohamed said. “We are encouraged to fast. It happens in daylight hours, from sunrise to sunset, but there’s a spirit to the month of Ramadan. That spirit has a much broader impact of purpose, more than just abstaining from eating or drinking.”

He said one of the main purposes of fasting is to help foster a sense of compassion for the less fortunate. “When you stop eating and drinking, you look at those who are less fortunate with more compassion. You’re able to tell yourself, I know the pains of hunger and thirst, I know how it feels to go without food, even if it’s for one day.”

At this time of year, Muslims are also encouraged to donate to charity if they have the means to do so. Mohamed Nur said in general, people are asked to donate 2.5 per cent of their annual wealth to whatever cause they choose, though charities directly helping the impoverished are often encouraged.

Ramadan is also a time focused on prayer and community. Muslims are encouraged to pray and reflect, and then break their fast after the sun has set, together with their families or communities.

The month-long fast may seem difficult, the imam said, but it’s also a great opportunity to commit to breaking bad habits such as smoking, or committing to healthier ones.

“Once you’ve picked up a good habit or dropped a bad one, and done it for a whole month, chances are those habits will stick with you for the rest of the year.”

At the end of the month comes the celebration of Eid al-Fitr, a large celebration not to be confused with the Eid al-Adha, which celebrates the Hajj, the annual pilgrimage to the Mecca. Ramadan is based on a lunar calendar and can therefore happen at different times of the year.

On May 25, Victoria council has agreed to partake in a day-long fast, and have challenged the wider community to join with them to try to understand what Muslims are celebrating. Everyone will then break their fast with the Muslim community at City Hall after sunset.

“I believe that the benefits of Ramadan are something that we can all share in, whether a person fasts in the context of their religion or otherwise,” Mohamed Nur said.”And if we come together and share based on those shared values, I think it helps create a more understanding community.”

This year Ramadan runs from evening of May 16 to the evening of June 15.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

Just Posted

VicPD seeks person of interest after short-term rental ransacked

Combined losses for damage and theft are over $5,000

Whitecaps favourite switches to the Island

Marcel de Jong worked to end Whitecaps contract, joining Pacific FC on the ground floor

RCMP ask for public’s help to determine cause of weekend fire

RCMP are investigating the cause of the South Island Concrete fire

UVic’s cutting-edge centre leading the way in drones and AI

Centre For Aerospace Research works with partners including Department of National Defence

VIDEO: 8 things you need to know about the 2019 B.C. budget

Surplus of $247 million with spending on children, affordability and infrastructure

Greater Victoria Wanted List for the week of Feb. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

‘Bullet missed me by an inch’: Man recounts friend’s killing at Kamloops hotel

Penticton man witnessed Summerland resident Rex Gill’s murder in Kamloops

B.C. BUDGET: Income assistance raise still leaves many below poverty line

$50 per month increase included in funding for poverty and homelessness reduction

B.C. BUDGET: Indigenous communities promised billions from gambling

Extended family caregiver pay up 75 per cent to keep kids with relatives

B.C. BUDGET: New benefit increases family tax credits up to 96 per cent

BC Child Opportunity Benefit part of province’s efforts to reduce child poverty

B.C. BUDGET: Carbon tax boosts low-income credits, electric vehicle subsidies

Homeowners can get up to $14,000 for heating, insulation upgrades

B.C. man survives heart attack thanks to Facebook

A Princeton man suffered a heart attack while at an isolated property with no cell service

B.C. man sues Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party over trademark

Satinder Dhillon filed application for trademark same day Maxime Bernier announced the new party

Most Read