City councillor Ahmed Yusef makes a donation to the Friends In Need Food Bank instead of holding a community breakfast for Ramadan. (Contributed)

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

Won’t be able to gather for community meals because of COVID-19 directives

Every year the month of Ramadan is observed by Muslims around the world as a time of fasting, reflection, prayers and community.

This year, though, the community across the province has to spend the time apart as they follow COVID-19 physical distancing directives by the provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

In addition, those in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows are turning to the Islamic Society of Ridge Meadows for guidance, as they have not yet gone virtual with prayers.

“We’re not there quite just yet,” said Maple Ridge city councillor Ahmed Yousef, who is also president of the Islamic Society of Ridge Meadows.

But, they are still supporting the community, he said, as they respond to requests for information on how to conduct prayers at home and how to instruct their children in the faith.

The society has been providing verses from the Koran to be recited along with Hadith, or sayings of the prophet Muhammad, to serve as a guide of conduct, Yousef added.

And other organizations have uploaded instructional videos online that they are able to use.

They have also been reaching out to the vulnerable people in the community, predominantly refugees, single mothers and people who are in need of financial support.

Elders in the community tend to live with two or three generations of a family in the household.

“So, they’re, for the most part, looked after,” said Yousef.

READ MORE: First mosque opens in Maple Ridge

Usually throughout the month of Ramadan, that began the evening of Thursday, April 23, the community gathers for meals at iftar, a word that literally translates into breakfast, when the fast ends for Muslims when the sun sets.

“To have breakfast at 8 p.m. is unusual, I understand,” noted Yousef.

“But if you are fasting all day, no food, water or any sustenance of any kind, that breakfast is definitely a cherished meal,” he said.

The first 10 days of Ramadan, iftar is taken with close family and friends. The next 10 days it is shared with extended family and friends. The final 10 days the meal is shared with the rest of the community.

In years past Yousef has organized a breakfast at the Ridge Meadows Seniors Activity Centre for a group of about 40 attendees.

“That got the wheels turning in my head, as to what I could do differently since I’m not going to be able to host anyone,” said Yousef about not being able to gather.

So this year, he decided to donate to the Friends In Need Food Bank instead.

“Ramadan is certainly a time of coming together, overlooking any and all differences,” noted Yousef.

“The fact that we all are here to serve one another, ultimately. To serve the community in which we live, and to serve the greater good,” he said.

Ramadan ends the evening of Saturday, May 23.

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