Globally, Muslims are a very diverse population and this diversity extends to the Muslim community within Canada as well. Muslims living within Canada come from many ethnic backgrounds. The majority of Muslims currently living in Canada have immigrated from other countries and regions, such as India, Pakistan, the Middle East and Indonesia. Approximately one fifth of Canadian Muslims are born in Canada. Currently, every province and territory have a notable Muslim community, with the largest existing in Toronto with over 250,000 Muslims residing in the city and over 100 including prayers halls and mosques!

Talking about Ramadan, Tuesday, 15th May will begin the month of Ramadan, a month of serious supplication, sunrise to-sunset fasting and daily devours.

Ramadan celebrates the date in A.D. 610 when, according to Islamic tradition, the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).

During the month, Muslims over the world are called upon to renew their spiritual commitment through daily fasting, prayer, and acts of charity known as Zakat. But Ramadan is much more than abstaining from food and drink. It is a time to purify the soul, refocus devotion on God, and practice self-discipline and self-sacrifice.

Here are some questions and answers about Islam’s holiest month:

WHY DO MUSLIMS FAST?

The fast is intended to bring the faithful closer to God and to remind them of the suffering of those less fortunate. Ramadan is an opportunity to separate from common joys and spotlight on one’s internal identity.

It’s seen as a way to materially and mystically purify, refraining from habits such as smoking and caffeine. Muslims often contribute to charities during the month and feed the hungry. Many spend more time at mosques throughout Ramadan and use their idle time to recite the Quran.

Fasting during Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with the Muslim declaration of faith, daily prayer, charity, and performing the hajj pilgrimage in Mecca.

HOW DO MUSLIMS BREAK THE FAST?

Muslims traditionally break their fast like the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) did some 1,400 years ago, with some dates and a sip of water at sunset. Dates is the most anticipated moment of the day.

After sunset prayers, a large feast known as “Iftar” is shared with family and friends. Iftar is a social event as much as it is a gastronomical adventure.

Every night of Ramadan, mosques, prayer halls and aid organizations set up tents and tables for the public to have free Iftar meals in Canada.