SHAFAQNA -Â Canadian Muslims are inviting people of all religions to join them in breaking their daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan.
Through the “Fast with a Muslim Friend” program, non-Muslim CanadiansÂ are invited to sign up to try fasting and then share iftar, the evening meal that ends the day of going without food or drink.
The program is designed to help “break down barriers” in Canada and encourage understanding, a spokesperson from Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaâ€™at Canada said Thursday.
“All Muslims are really, really excited about hosting a fellow Canadian,”Â Safwan Choudhry said on CTVâ€™s News Channel.
From June 18 until July 17, Muslims celebrate Ramadan, a month of fasting, reflection, and charity. During this time, the faithful do not eat or drink during while the sun is up.
Choudhry said the experience teaches self-discipline and empathy for those who go hungry every day.
“It forces you to be inspired to think about over a billion people around the world who actually live like this every day,” he said. “I can actually end my fast when the sun sets and eat. They donâ€™t have that.”
He encouraged non-Muslims to share the experience, either for a day or a few hours, and then break their fast with new friends.
Participants are invited to share their experiences online, by blogging on the programâ€™s website or posting on social media with the hashtag #FastWithMuslims.
“Itâ€™s about spirituality, itâ€™s a time for reflection, to be charitable. And by fasting, youâ€™re also having that empathy for people who are less fortunate,” Nutritionist Zannat Reza told CTV’s Canada AM on Thursday.
Reza recommends that anyone who is fasting should pay close attention to their pre-dawn meal as a chance to load up on protein and fibre, and ensure that theyâ€™re well hydrated. Eggs are a good source of protein, she said, also recommending high-fibre cereal, as well as fruits and vegetables such as grapes, berries, or avocado, as good choices before a day of fasting.
She also recommended keeping the evening meal light, to avoid shocking the body after a day without food.
Traditionally, Reza said, many Muslims break their fast with a glass of water and a few dates.
“The sweetness from the dates just kind of jolts your body back in terms of energy,” she said.
Lentils, chickpeas, or brown rice are also good options for protein in the evening, she said.