LONDON, Ontario - Joining millions of Muslims worldwide, Canadian Muslims look forward to the holy fasting month of Ramadan to share the feeling of the poor and disadvantaged for thirty days.
"When Ramadan falls in the summer and the fast will be longer, the reward will be bigger, too," Jamal Taled, London Mosque imam, told Ifp press on Friday, July 20.
"This is a great opportunity for our people to seek even more devotion to God and to devote themselves in this blessed month to read the Qur'an and volunteer their efforts."
Ramadan is the holiest month in Islamic calendar.
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.
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.
Canadian Muslims celebrate the start of the holy fasting month on Friday, July 20, making it the first time for Ramadan in 30 years to come in mid July.
Magda Elkholy, 21, sees the holy month of Ramadan beginning Friday as a time of reflection on her faith and the world, giving her a good opportunity to reflect on how those without luxuries live.
"I used to fast for half-days when I was young, just to feel included," said Elkholy, who will blog about her fasting experience all month on lfpress.com.
"We are taught to think of the poor when fasting. We can feel the hunger pains that poor people feel. In my family, that's not something we experienced, except during Ramadan."
"This will be challenging. It's harder to concentrate on things because you're deprived of food and your energy is low," Elkholy said.
"For me, one of the most challenging things is keeping my energy level up."
For many Canadian Muslims, the holy fasting month is mainly about sharing the good spirits with the whole society.
"My family has dinner together every day but at iftar, it's extra special, Elkholy said.
We break our fast and say our prayer together.
Following iftar meal, the family; including Elkholy, her grandparents, mom, dad, sister, 16, and brother, 23, gets united in night prayers together.
We always say what we're thankful for, Elkholy said.
The prophet (Mohammed) said that we should reserve one-third of our stomachs for food, one-third for water and one-third for air."
The sharing spirit is spread all over the community with the mosque on Oxford St. West open to people of all faiths for daily Ramadan prayers.
"Ramadan is for the entire humanity, not just Muslims," Taled said.
"I think everyone should try fasting during this time, even if it's just a couple of hours a day . . . To devote yourself like that, it will teach us to know the feelings of others who do not have clean water to drink or food to eat.
Ask, how can we all work together to eliminate poverty?"
London is home to an estimated 30,000 Muslims.
Canadian 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.