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Ramadan is a busy time of year for area Muslims August 12, 2010

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DANIELLE WONG
THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR
(Aug 12, 2010)

Muslims across the Hamilton area are starting and finishing Ramadan together for the first time ever this year.

Islam’s holy month of fasting can begin at different times for Muslims worldwide, depending on whether one goes by astronomical calculations or naked-eye sighting of the moon. The area’s nine mosques decided to follow the Fiqh Council of North America’s start date and began observing the holy month yesterday. The community will also unite for the first time on Eid, which marks the end of Ramadan, Sept. 13 at the convention centre for a citywide prayer.

“Ramadan is an interesting time because it’s a 24-hours-a-day event … especially for more observant Muslims,” said Hussein Hamdani, community spokes-person and vice-chair of North American Spiritual Revival. “It’s a full, complete day. The only thing we lose is sleep.”

There are about 30,000 Muslims in the Hamilton area. Across the globe, about 1.5-billion people fast between sunrise and sunset during the holiday, Hamdani said.

During Ramadan, mosques around the city will host meals every day at sunset for Muslims and the general public, said Javid Mirza, past president of the Muslim Association of Hamilton.

Mirza said he is quitting smoking for Ramadan, but the hard part is keeping it up.

Giving to the poor is also part of the spirit of Ramadan, say local Muslims.

“Your deeds need to improve this month,” Hamdani said. “If you’re not a better person as a result, then God has no need for your fasting.”

Islamic Relief Canada is holding a “Day of Dignity” at 1 p.m. tomorrow at the Mountain Mosque to give new clothing and gifts donated by charities to those in need.

McMaster’s Muslim Students’ Association (MSA) will also be raising funds for Pakistani flood relief with Islamic Relief Canada.

Affaf Ahtisham, the MSA’s senior adviser, said the month was a chance for young Muslims to refocus.

“Throughout the entire year, we read our textbooks. But now it’s our time to ask for forgiveness and reflect back on our lives to see what we can change to have a more productive year.”

dawong@thespec.com

905-526-2468

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