Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps and her council are challenging residents to take part in a community-wide fast on May 25 to mark Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic calendar.
Helps and city councillors will fast beginning sunrise on the 25th and break the fast with a meal with members of the Muslim community at city hall at sunset.
The month of Ramadan is considered “a blessed month” by Muslims, said Imam Ismail Mohamed Nur of the Masjid Al-Iman mosque, who joined Helps and councillors in the mayor’s office on Wednesday. “It is a month of reflection. It is a month of charity and generosity,” he said.
Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan.
“But there’s a spirit to the month of Ramadan and that spirit has much broader impact or purpose than just abstaining from eating and drinking,” Mohamed Nur said.
“We are taught that by abstaining from eating and drinking, it helps us become more compassionate individuals in a very practical sense. Because if you go without eating and drinking, you look at those less fortunate with more compassion. You’re able to tell yourself: ‘I know of the pain of hunger and thirst. I know how it feels to go without food even if it’s for one day.’ ”
Mohamed Nur said it’s also considered a good time to cut out bad habits such as smoking and an opportunity to pick up good ones.
Helps said the idea of a community fast challenge arose after she was approached by the imam about marking Ramadan.
“I think it’s really important for council to be able to be here standing alongside the Muslim community. We do this with the Jewish community at Hanukkah. We do it with the Christian Community at Christmas,” she said.
“It really, to me, symbolizes the kind of diversity and inclusion and really the richness that is our community here in Victoria.”