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This article was published 17/6/2016 (1489 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
"Not even water?"
That's right. Not even water. A common question from my non-Muslim friends, colleagues and neighbours when I tell them I am fasting. It's that blessed time of year again, folks: Ramadan. When Muslims around the world fast from sunrise to sunset for one month. Not a big deal in the winter when the days are short. Bigger deal in June, when the days are longer. Much longer.
Ramadan is not only just about fasting. There are many other facets of this month that are equally important. It is a month for spiritual reflection and rejuvenation. A time of year where by physically depriving ourselves of food, our emotional connection to the Creator becomes our only means of sustenance. It is a time when we realize how God has gifted with us with such strong and resilient bodies — going without food and water for 18 hours at a stretch — and still taking care of business. We set aside extra time to focus on our prayer and recitation of the Qur'an, pondering on its meaning and strengthening our relationship with the Most Compassionate One.
It's like detox for the soul.
It is also a month where we are encouraged to give out of what we have, to those in need. These values and practices of giving and compassion and spiritual reflection are values that resonate with everyone — transcending cultures, faiths and communities. It’s these common values that bind us together as human beings.
This weekend, the Manitoba Islamic Association will be hosting a benefit Iftar dinner (the breaking of the fast at sunset) with all proceeds going to the Coalition of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women. MIA President Idris Elbakri will be welcoming the keynote speakers Nahanni Fontaine and Bernadette Smith, two tireless advocates for families who have lost their mothers, sisters, daughters and friends. And who have experienced the pain of losing loved ones first-hand.
This is not just a cause or a charity. It's an emergency appeal about the atrocities that occur every day in our neighbourhoods. This is a man-made disaster that we must take bold measures to end. When 12-year-old children are being sexually exploited every night, 20 minutes from our neighbourhood, we cannot look the other way.
This event is a perfect opportunity to invite my indigenous sisters to my place of worship and share with them one of our most spiritual times of the year.
But more than that, I want them to know that their pain is our pain. That the Muslim community in Winnipeg is standing alongside them; not only as allies, but as relations.
I am so proud that the Manitoba Islamic Association is taking steps not only to raise awareness about this within the Muslim community, but to hold such an event during the sacred month of Ramadan. When charity, compassion, giving and kindness are necessary parts of our worship.
So, an invitation to my dear fellow Winnipeggers: Come and join us in celebrating Ramadan! Let us welcome you to our place of prayer, share with us in enjoying delicious food and most importantly, gather together and raise money to help end this crisis.
After the heinous shooting in the U.S. last weekend, which left me feeling crushed and overwhelmed at the destruction caused in the name of my faith, it's small events like these that lighten my heart and make me feel hopeful that just as we stand shoulder to shoulder with others, they stand shoulder to shoulder with us.
Welsh Muslim Winnipegger Nadia Kidwai is program co-ordinator in Manitoba for the Next Up leadership program.
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