Spiritual purification is endorsed by many religions as a way of getting closer to the creator. Usually avoidance is the key, and there are several different ways to do it, like avoiding nourishment, companionship, or even social media for some hours. Fasting is one of the most prevalent and conspicuous ways of acquiring spiritual elevation and is exercised in a variety of ways and traditions.
Catholics, Hindus, Jews, Buddhists, Mormons and Baha’is fast in several different ways as part of their faith. In Indigenous cultures, fasting symbolizes as a sacrifice for their whole family and community.
In Islam, fasting is one of five pillars that complete Muslim belief. Many Muslims fast for a complete lunar month, called Ramadan/Ramzan. It is the most blessed time of the year. The fast begins before sunrise and ends at sunset, with a little bit of time variation between Shia and Sunni Muslims. But overall, fasting involves staying away from food, water, and physical intimacy from dawn till sunset.
In addition to abandoning the comforts and nourishment to develop consciousness of God, Ramadan is also a month of extensive charity and community building. It is part of the Muslim faith that spiritual elevation can be achieved through giving. Various Muslim organizations in Canada work very actively to spread the spirit of Ramadan. Inspired by the idea, a philanthropist in Canada — Ziyaad Mian — started a campaign called Give30, which utilizes social harmony to motivate people from all walks of life, regardless of their religious affiliation, to address poverty and hunger in the community. The idea is to donate to the local food bank money equal to what one would spend on coffee and snacks for 30 days. This way, everyone can connect with Ramadan and help the larger community by remembering the people who don’t have a lot and are struggling every day for food.
In Waterloo Region, Coalition of Muslim Women (CMW) is leading the local Muslim community’s efforts by bringing together a number of organizations to take part in Give30 Ramadan Food Drive. Anyone from the community can take part in Give 30, which believes in compassion, dignity, unity and universalism.
Sacrifice surpasses distinction and brings benevolent people together for a mutual reason: humanity. This is the call of Ramadan — empathy and social solidarity.
It is time to show our love for fellow community members, feed the hungry and show solidarity. Everyone is invited to join the Muslim community and donate to the Kitchener, Waterloo and Cambridge food banks. What a wonderful way to feel happy again.
Seemab is a Pakistani-Canadian artist in Waterloo Region and is a volunteer with Coalition of Muslim Women. She works as a poet, photographer, writer, and educator. Her work has been published in various local and international magazines and journals.