CAIRO - Muslims in the Canadian city of Calgary are preparing for the holy fasting month of Ramadan, getting ready for prayers, charity and family gatherings after fasting for long hours under summer scorching sun.
Ramadan is called the month of fasting, Syed Soharwardy, founder of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada and lead imam of the Al Madinah Calgary Islamic Centre, told Calgary Herald.
It is the ninth month of the Islamic Calendar. It is one of the holiest months of the Islamic calendar.
Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, marks the first revelation of the Noble Qur'an to Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
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.
This year, scorching sun would make it challenging to Muslims to fast during the holy month, aspiring for a greater reward from Allah.
This year and the coming few years, the fasting in Ramadan will be harder as Ramadan falls in the summer, Soharwardy said.
The longer days of summer are difficult for Muslims fasting but committed Muslims do get strength from their faith.
Moreover, Calgary Muslims were organizing their efforts to reach out to needy and poor to offer them charity.
Especially at the time of Iftar, breaking the fast, Muslim families invite neighbors, relatives, friends and people in need to share food with them, Soharwardy said.
Every morning all the members of the family wake up before dawn and eat a meal called Sahoor or Sahree.
Ramadan is expected to begin in Canada and other parts of the world on July 9.
It is the period Muslims dedicate for getting closer to Allah through fasting, prayers, reading the Noble Qur'an and helping the poor and needy.
Muslims in Ramadan, except for the sick and those traveling, refrain from eating, drinking, smoking and sexual intercourse from dawn to dusk with the aim of reinforcing spirituality, self-control and humility.
Mosques in Ramadan are overflowing with worshippers, especially for Tarawih, a nightly prayers performed during Ramadan only, and many men perform i`tikaf.
After long hours of fasting, Muslim families get together to celebrate a daily Muslim thanksgiving meal, thanking Allah for His blessings.
It is the month of families getting together and celebration. It's a one-month daily celebration, Soharwardy said.
This is the month of Thanksgiving when each Muslim thanks Allah for His blessings and share those blessings with the people in need.
This is the month of righteousness and self-control. A Muslim voluntarily stays away from temptations of food, drinks, etc. in order to develop self-control for the sake of Allah. A fasting person is required to control his/her anger.
For the first time in about 30 years, Ramadan is set to coincide with the Calgary Stampede, an annual rodeo, exhibition and festival.
The ten-day event, which bills itself as "The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth", attracts over one million visitors per year.
Anticipating the event, Calgary Muslims said they would try to enjoy the Stampede after breaking their fast after the sunset.
As far as the Stampede is concerned, we can enjoy the fun of Stampede and fast at the same time. Fasting does not stop Muslims from enjoying Stampede.
The only difference will be that the Muslims will enjoy the food and the drinks after the sunset. The rest is the same.
I do not think that there will be any challenges to the Muslims of Calgary during Stampede. It is business as usual. It is fun and celebration as usual. We just have to wait for the sun to set and then we enjoy the food.
Muslims make up nearly two percent of Canada's some 32.8 million people and Islam has become the number one non-Christian faith in the country.
A poll has showed that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are proud to be Canadian and are more integrated and better educated than the general population.