London’s Muslim community celebrates Ramadan as COVID restrictions lift

FILE - London Muslim Mosque, seen here in April 2015. Google Maps

Ramadan celebrations began Friday evening and fasting began on Saturday.

Aarij Anwer, the director of Religious Affairs at the London Muslim Mosque is thrilled that the 2022 commemoration looks different than the previous two.

“We have nightly prayer services,” Anwer said. “This is something we have missed out on the last two years due to the pandemic. But now we’re able to come together and it feels amazing.”

Anwer says one of the most important aspects of Ramadan is “to experience the gathering of Muslims. All ties, from all backgrounds, every single night. It’s a very uplifting experience.”

Read more: London’s Muslim community celebrates Ramadan remotely

Ramadan is the celebration of the ninth lunar month in the Islamic calendar. It’s the most significant time of year for Muslims and is the time when the pillar of fasting is practiced, meaning they do not consume any food or drink from dawn to dusk.

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“It’s a way for us to realize the things we enjoy, to create empathy for those in need, and also to connect ourselves to our God and thank him for his blessings.”

Londoner Ali Chahbar is celebrating Ramadan with his family and young children.

“I have three little kids (nine, six, and three years old),” said Chahbar. “Because my kids are young, they’re not actually observing the fast itself, because they’re not old enough to do that just yet. We make it a festive month through — different activities and family dinners. My kids love to do crafts and then at the end of Ramadan, they get dressed up in their fancy clothes and get together, have parties and visit family.

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He explains the celebration of Ramadan as a “spiritual battery recharge.”

“It’s really a month of observance, discipline, reflection and prayer. We abstain from food and drink and other temptation in an attempt to spiritually center ourselves.”

Chahbar also plans to attend festivities at the mosque and celebrate with the community.

“One of the things we’re looking forward to most is being able to get together for family dinners, visit relatives and head out to the mosque for prayers in a way that we haven’t had an opportunity to do for two years,” he said.

Read more: Toronto Muslims ready to celebrate Ramadan together after COVID restrictions lifted

In addition to Ramadan traditions, the London Muslim Mosque is doing a food drive to help those in need.

“It’s supporting different food banks and women’s shelters in the city,” said Anwer. “This is a collaboration between the mosque and the school at the mosque. That’s a way to come and ensure your support.”

For those who don’t practice the Islamic faith but would still like to show support, donations can be made online and food donations can be brought directly to the mosque.

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“Also, one of the most amazing ways to show support is to come to the mosque for one of the meals that we have in one of the evenings,” smiled Anwer. “Come join the community and see what it’s like to be with your Muslim neighbours and enjoy some good food.”

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