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Canada Muslims Balance Ramadan Work

Published: 06/08/2012 04:18:14 PM GMT
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CAIRO - Fasting for long hours, Canadian Muslims are trying to adapt their work in the blistering summer heat without food and water during the holy month of Ramadan.“The most challenging part of Ramadan is that I can't ta (more)

CAIRO - Fasting for long hours, Canadian Muslims are trying to adapt their work in the blistering summer heat without food and water during the holy month of Ramadan.

“The most challenging part of Ramadan is that I can't taste my food,” Rafi Raphael Taherie, a chef at Free Times Café, told The Globe And Mail.

“Normally I'm not the type of chef to have a spoon in my pocket every minute to taste, but still it's pretty tough to not taste food and still be good.

“Part of Ramadan is to sacrifice, so being around food and not eating is actually a good challenge,” the Toronto Muslim resident said.

Canada's Muslims started Ramadan fasting on July 20.

In Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.

The sick and those traveling are exempt from fasting especially if it poses health risks.

For Alaa Hajjaj, a Toronto accountant at Trade Secret Web Printing, his first Ramadan in Canada was easier than what he expected.

“This is the first time I've done Ramadan in Canada,” said Hajjaj, who emigrated from Abu Dhabi.

“Everyone in the office is being nice and accommodating, trying not to eat in front of me.”

The case was not the same for Fraz Ahmed, an automotive technician at Dufferin and Bloor Auto Repair and Sales.

“As a mechanic, working on cars, observing Ramadan is a bit hard. When the cars come in and they're hot, you sweat. When you sweat, you have less energy,” Ahmed said.

“But once you're in there, and you're working on something, you won't feel it at all.”

Muslims make 1.9 percent of Canada's some 32.8 million people.

The number of Canadian Muslims has increased over the past few years making Islam the number one non-Christian faith in the country.

A survey has showed that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian.

Spiritual Charge

Intersecting religious observance and work, Canadian Muslims see the holy month of Ramadan as a chance for spiritual charge for the whole year.

“Ramadan is also a time of reconnecting with God. It's about sacrificing. And it's about charity,” Raphael, the chef, said.

“There are people [around the world] who are fasting for two or three days in a row without any food. So we have to be connected to them and feel their pain.”

Sharing the poor for thirty days of hunger and thirsty, Ramadan gives Muslims a chance to appreciate the blessings Allah bestow on them.

“Ramadan makes me appreciate everything that I have,” said Hajjaj.

“You remember in different parts of the world they don't have the same things as here.”

Muslims also share the feelings of the needy and poor during the holy month.

“I feel that it's necessary to feel that it's difficult to fast at Ramadan. It's not easy, but it's life,” said Suhair Abu-Khaled, a farmer at Suhair Organic Farm from Richmond Hill, Ont.

“Some people, this is normal life for them. If we look, for example, at people in Somalia, or in Southern Africa, a lot of people are fasting the whole year, not just at Ramadan.

“If we ask why our God asks us to fast at Ramadan it's to feel how poor people live. How they feel. Of course we should feel the difference.”

Fasting is meant to teach Muslims patience, self-control and spirituality, and time during the holy month is dedicated for getting closer to Allah though prayers, reading the Noble Qur'an and good deeds.

In Ramadan, Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to be closer to Allah through prayers, self-restraint and good deeds.

The majority of Muslims prefer to pay Zakah for the poor and needy during the month.

Reproduced with permission from