Canada: Nunavut Muslims mark Ramadan with charity, long fasts

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SHAFAQNA - The holy month of Ramadan, observed by Muslims all over the world and across the Arctic, started last Thursday.

During Ramadan Muslims perform charitable acts. That’s why Islamic Relief Canada donated $11,000 to the Iqaluit Food Centre, formerly the Iqaluit soup kitchen. The centre feeds up to 100 of the city’s hungry each day.

“When we started looking in our own backyard in Canada and realized that there are challenges around food and food prices in the North, we couldn’t sit still,” said Osama Elsaman, director of programs for the Burlington, Ont., based organization.

“We had to do something and while researching what interventions we could do we came across the soup kitchen.”

The long fast

During the holy month Muslims try to understand the challenges faced by those less fortunate, by fasting from sunrise to sunset. For Muslims North of 60, that means a longer fast than down south, says Mohamed Hassan, general secretary of the Islamic Society of Nunavut, which is currently building a mosque in the Nunavut capital.

“It is challenging being up here in the Arctic. The days are approximately 20 to 21 hours long in terms of daylight,” he said. “For some they find it extremely challenging, for others its not as bad because it`s colder.”

Elsaman said the donation is enough to keep the food centre supplied throughout Ramadan, which ends July 17. He hopes Iqaluit Muslims will volunteer at the food centre during that time.

“This is the first time we’ve worked up north,” Elsaman said. “We hope it will not be the last time.”

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