Eid al-Fitr a time of celebration

The Prince Albert Muslim Association brought gift baskets to several local oganizations as part of the celebration of Eid in 2018. Submitted photo.

Members of Prince Albert’s Muslim community celebrated Eid al-Fitr Tuesday.

The date of Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, a 30-day period of fasting, is determined by the lunar calendar. It’s marked by celebration, prayer and charity. “Eid is the day after Ramadan,” said Imam Irshad Unia of the Prince Albert Muslim Association.

“We celebrate with family and get together. The whole community comes to the mosque we have a prayer and after that we have food.”

For Muslims in Canada, fasting from dawn to dusk during Ramadan means 18 and a half hours without food or water.

“To fast is to show that we can know how it feels for someone who is not so fortunate as to be able to eat food every day, and who don’t have the ability to get food whenever they want,” he said.

“We try to stay away from sin in the month of Ramadan especially, and we offer a special prayer later at night.”

That focus on the less fortunate led Prince Albert’s Muslim community to deliver food packages to the food bank in the city. In Saskatoon, that city’s Islamic Asociation also organized a food drive for Eid al-Fitr, with all donations given to the Saskatoon Food Bank and Learning Centre.

Saskatoon Imam Ilyas Sidyot told the StarPhoenix that one of the major tenets of Islam and a big part of Eid al-Fitr is giving back to the community.

Rashid Ahmed splits his time between Saskatoon and Prince Albert. He described how he and his family celebrate Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr.

“Eid al-Fitr means the festival of breaking the fast,” he said.

“It’s where we mark the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. It’s a celebration after 30 days of fasting and thinking about people who are less fortunate and trying to involve them in our happiness. For me, it’s important to involve people or celebrate Eid with those people who are less fortunate.”

Ahmed said that last year his family worked to give gifts to the less fortunate and include them in their celebrations.

Muslim communities in both Prince Albert and Saskatoon work hard before and after Eid al-Fitr to build understanding and help educate their neighbours.

“Just before Ramadan finished, we went to all of the neighbours around the mosque and gave them goodie bags with chocolate and with cookies,” Unia said.

“We wrote them a message about what Ramadan was and gave them a heads up that this was a gift from the Muslim community to all our neighbours here in Prince Albert.”

Ahmed did some outreach of his own. Monday night, he hosted a small group at Spice Trail to explain what Ramadan is all about and why it’s important.

“It’s really important to have dialogue, because through dialogue we can learn from each other and understand each other,” he said.

“These types of conversations are important to build bridges between different religions and different cultures.”

He talked about a program that once ran across Canada, including in Saskatoon, called meet a Muslim family. It was designed to show how Muslim people live their life.

“We love hockey, we love football, and Tim Hortons is part of our life too,” Ahmed said.

“Sometimes, there are misconceptions. Through dialogue, we can remove those misconceptions. I’m looking forward to doing more (events) similar to (Monday ) night.”

Unia added that in the coming days, members of the Muslim community will be visiting local churches, the police and the fire department and give out gift bags there as well.

The initiative, he said, is to “show that we appreciate everyone who is here and everybody who knows we are all one family,” he said.

“We follow different religions, but at the end of the day we are all one family and we support one another. We are not someone who is foreign; we are part of the community.”