Maple Ridge Coun. Ahmed Yousef says observing Ramadan during a pandemic was very different. (News files)

Maple Ridge Coun. Ahmed Yousef says observing Ramadan during a pandemic was very different. (News files)

Maple Ridge city councillor celebrates Eid al Fitr after 30 days of fasting

Coun. Ahmed Yousef said this year’s Ramadan was lonely without close community contact

Maple Ridge city councillor Ahmed Yousef ate breakfast on Thursday morning with his family.

It was the first time in 30 days he had shared the morning meal with them.

The former president of the Islamic Society of Ridge Meadows was observing Ramadan, a period of fasting Muslims all around the world take part in.

“We experience what those less fortunate than us do,” Yousef said. “Many people might not have the ability to simply walk into the kitchen, and open up the fridge door to grab whatever their hearts desire.”

Those observing Ramadan do not eat or drink anything during daylight hours, eating one meal (suhoor) just before dawn, and another (iftar) after sunset.

READ MORE: For Canadian Muslims, second pandemic Ramadan is a time of hope and sadness

READ MORE: Muslims in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows observe the month of Ramadan apart

Community is everything during the holy month, Yousef explained.

“During Ramadan, families gather with friends and even people they don’t know for the iftar meal,” he said.

“You go through the hardship of fasting all day long, and come together to break your fast and celebrate what you’ve done in service of a higher being.”

His family does not observe the month, and since his children would typically be in bed around sundown, Yousef said he would often eat the Iftar meal by himself.

“It was a very lonely Ramadan,” he said. “But knowing there are millions of people out there who are experiencing the same hunger and thirst that I was helped me.”

He missed praying with others close by too.

“When we pray in congregation, we stand toe-to-toe, shoulder-to-shoulder, and we move in unison,” he explained.

“To have that sense of belonging and community be non-existent was quite hard, but I’m glad that we’re able to participate in and practise the safe regulations in place, so that next Ramadan, hopefully we can be together without any of us missing.”

From Thursday to Saturday, Eid al Fitr will be celebrated by the local community.

It is a time of supplication, where favours can be asked of God in recompense for all the fasting. It is also common to be charitable, and grateful for all God has bestowed upon those who have observed the holy month.

Children wear new clothes, and will get candy, and if they’re lucky – some money.

Yousef recalls those gifts when he was growing up in Egypt.

“As a child, the money would be used to purchase fireworks and candy,” he said. “It’s pretty festive all around.”

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