On Friday, as the sun set over Airdrie, members of the Muslim community gathered at Nose Creek Valley Museum to break fast. Discover Airdrie was invited by the Ahmadiyya Muslim ladies of Airdrie to participate in the gathering. 

Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, is observed by approximately 1.6 billion people worldwide. Ramadan follows the lunar calendar; hence the start of Ramadan varies from year to year. Sairah Khan, a member of Ahmadiyya Muslim ladies of Airdrie explained that the gathering on Friday was meant to bring awareness to Airdronians of what Ramadan is about, but it was also meant as an opportunity to mingle with Airdronians of all different faiths.  

“Ramadan is the name of a month in the Islamic calendar and in this month, it is obligatory for all Muslims around the world to fast. The fast starts at sunrise each day, to sunset,” she said. “It is one of the five pillars of Islam, which form the basis of how Muslims live their lives. It allows Muslims to devote themselves to their faith and come closer to Allah.” 

But Ramadan isn’t just about not eating and not drinking. During the month of Ramadan Muslims are encouraged to also do good deeds for those in their community, stay away from gossiping, and in more modern times; putting the phone down and being more connected to friends and family. This is why the Ahmadiyya Muslim ladies donated to Airdrie’s Food Bank, volunteered their time at the Bethany Care Centre, and prepared food for the Alpha House Society in Calgary, just to list a few of their deeds. 

“Even though every Muslim should be doing this throughout the year but Ramadan just helps to refresh oneself,” Khan said. “It just helps to practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, empathy for those who are less fortunate.” 

However, she underlined that there are exceptions when it comes to fasting. Muslims who are sick or elderly or are undergoing medical treatment, children, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, and are exempt. Khan, who is a mother herself, said that oftentimes children, though they are exempt from fasting want to emulate adults around them.  

“She's been obviously watching me and this year she wanted to do it. When Ramadan started on Sunday, I said to her, ‘if you want to start and if midway, you feel that you're hungry, and you want to break it that's okay,’” she said. “But she kept the whole fast; because obviously she's looking at people around her as well and everybody encouraging everybody.” 

Discover Airdrie asked the most obvious question; is it hard to fast, especially since the day is quite long.

Muslim women are seen praying during a Friday gathering on Ramadan (Photo by Anna Ferensowicz)Muslim women are seen praying during a Friday gathering on Ramadan (Photo by Anna Ferensowicz)

 “I'm a working mother and when Ramadan is approaching, you feel like, ‘oh my God, it's going to be so long. How am I going to get through?’ And during a normal day, I'm always having the urge to crave something,” she said. “But somehow, I don't know what happens mentally or spiritually; I've been up since 4:30 this morning and I don't feel any lack of energy. I'm not getting hungry right now.” 

On Friday, minutes after 8 P.M. a call to prayer rang out in the Nose Creek Valley Museum. A male muezzin (the individual who proclaims the call to prayer). 

Men and women prayed in separate rooms facing, the sacred Kaaba in Mecca. 

“The Holy Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, he broke his fast with a date and so we follow that tradition that we take a date,” Khan said. “By the time you've broken your fast, you're not that hungry. You feel so full after just a little bit [of food]  that you find that your tummy just exploding.” 

Before the next day’s sunrise, many Muslims including Khan will have another lighter meal. 

“I perform my prayers and we have breakfast. I might take some yogurt or a piece of fruit like a banana or some cereal, maybe even eggs; just to get the energy for the day going and then we start off the fast again.” 

Khan said that in her 15 years of living in Airdrie, the community has been open, friendly, and aware. 

“We make it a point to get to know our community. Over the years, during Ramadan, we do a food drive for the Airdrie food bank. So, this is the fourth year we're doing that,” she said. “We got to know the girls at the  food bank. We also know the girls at the Bethany Seniors Home. We go there regularly and for Eid, we will go there to celebrate.” 

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