Canadian Muslims invite communities to join in the Ramadan festivities

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SHAFAQNA - Halifax’s Muslim community is breaking ground this weekend by inviting the public to its first Ramadan food drive and fast-a-thon.

Through the charitable events, Muslims of Halifax are asking non-Muslim members of the public to learn about their culture and traditions while helping those less fortunate.

“During the month of Ramadan, Muslims are encouraged to do more,” said Asraa El-Darahali, the food drive’s coordinator. “We want the public to share the spirit of Ramadan. They can bring the kids, get their face painted and help those in need.”

The food drive will be held Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Mic Mac Mall in Dartmouth. All proceeds will go to local charities, including Feed Nova Scotia, Bryony House, Metro Turning Point, Adsum House, Phoenix Youth Programs and Bayers Westwood Family Resource Centre.

So far, Muslims of Halifax have enough donations to fill 120 grocery bags. The goal is to reach 500 by Sunday evening.

There are 14 items included in the donation bag: pasta, pasta sauce, vegetables, fruit, tuna, rice, sugar, salt, oil, red beans, cereal, pancake mix, toothpaste and soap.

People can also donate $20 and the group will purchase the items, package them and deliver them to the local charities.

Wanted: fasting volunteers

The Muslim community is also seeking volunteers to fast alongside them from dawn until dusk on Sunday, followed by a celebration dinner.

“For every person who volunteers to fast, the community will make a donation,” El-Darahali said.

“Muslims take Ramadan as an opportunity to give back, since that’s what it’s all about.”

Dr. Asraa El-Darahali is a graduate of the Dalhousie dental program and past president at IWK Children’s Hospital. She’s now an associate dentist at Summit Dentistry in Bedford.

El-Darahali, 29, says she is proud her community is branching out and educating others about their cultural traditions.

Muslims of Halifax hopes to make the food drive an annual event.

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