Ramadan is a month of self-reflection, spirituality and generosity, says Imam Muhammad Patel of the Red Deer Islamic Center.
The ninth month of the Islamic calendar marks Ramadan, which is observed by Muslims worldwide as a time of fasting in commemoration of the first revelation of the Qaran to the Prophet Muhammad.
The faithful will fast from dawn to dusk every day throughout the month.
“They’re staying away from food, drink and intimacy, but more so than that, they will try to curb down, or stop completely, vulgar behaviour and try to be better to their fellow human,” said Patel.
The Red Deer Islamic Center hosts post-sunset meals throughout the month.
“Sometimes, people cook food here. Sometimes, people bring food from home. It’s a season of giving, so people share with everyone else,” said Patel.
“Yesterday, we had people come from Vancouver who were passing through and were like, ‘Wow, we didn’t expect to have such a nice communal feeling.’”
Patel, who has lived in Red Deer for about four months, said fasting can be challenging for some.
“Islam does make exceptions for people who are unable to fast,” he said.
“Children don’t need to fast, but their parents may get them into the habit by getting them to keep a two-hour fast to get ready for it.
“The elderly, diabetic patients or people who for medical reasons can’t fast at all, don’t need to fast.”
There are roughly 1,500 Muslims in Red Deer and the surrounding area, Patel said.
“It’s a month of giving and giving back to the community,” he said.
“It’s about trying to build a connection with God and trying to improve their connection.”