SHAFAQNA – With empty stomachs, fasting Muslims in Windsor gathered at Devonshire Mall on Sunday to hold a food drive for the Windsor community.
“It embodies our faith, the food drive is a simple reflection of what our faith is all about,” said Su Hassan, who dropped by the mall to donate. “It’s very important in our religion to support the community.”
Ramadan marks a month of prayer, giving and fasting for Muslims all over the world. For the entire month, Muslims do not eat or drink between dawn and sunset. This year, Windsor Muslims are fasting an average of 17 hours per day.
The “Share the Spirit of Ramadan” food drive, organized by Windsor’s Muslim community, collected donations for more than 1,200 bags, each containing 14 essential food and toiletry items. The bags will be donated to 16 food banks across the Windsor-Essex region.
Supporting the community is an important part of Islam, said Susan Khaled, the food drive’s coordinator. “Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said ‘what is enough for one, is enough for two,’” Khaled noted. “So If I look at a bowl of cereal for example, that bowl can feed me and I may be full but if I split it, I can feed myself and someone else.”
The Ramadan food drive happens at an important time, said Shirley Beaton, volunteer coordinator at the Windsor Homes Coalition. During the summer she said, there is a lull in donations and an increase in need.
“During the summer when the children are out of school, people don’t think about donating during those times and that’s when families need it the most,” said Beaton. “A lot of the children who get fed at school are now at home and there is not enough food on our shelves.”
The coalition has been collaborating with the Ramadan food drive since its inception 11 years ago.
“Having this food drive after Ramadan is just wonderful, it fills up our food banks for months to come,” said Beaton. “There is so much love coming from this community, it’s spiritually uplifting. Being here, it just makes you feel so good.”
As part of the food drive, those who donated were gifted with multicolored roses and children were offered popcorn and candy, along with balloons and face painting.
The fast is meant to cultivate one’s spiritual link with God, develop personal will power and increase empathy with the needs of others. During the month, Muslims are obliged to not just give up on food but also increase their acts of giving and serve their community.
Muslims will be celebrating Eid, marking the end of Ramadan, on either Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on moon sightings.
For Hassan, participating in the food drive makes Eid easier to celebrate.
“Eid doesn’t happen for us unless our neighbour celebrates with us,” she said. “Our celebration won’t be fulfilled if someone next door to us is not in the state of mind where they too can celebrate.”