The Muslim holy month of Ramadan starts this week and Hamilton’s 30 000 Muslims have begun fasting for the entire month. It is meant to be a time of spiritual discipline but also celebration and joy. For about 17 hours a day Muslims will abstain from food, drinks, including water and sex. It is one of the 5 pillars in Islam. All muslims are required to take part every year, though there exceptions for those who are ill, pregnant and for young children and the elderly.
The practice of fasting serves both spiritual and social purposes. It reminds Muslims to appreciate simple things in life like food and water as well as to give back to the poor. It is also a time to build a strong relationship with God.
While fasting, Muslims are expected to still go to work or school. Islam follows the Lunar calendar, so when Ramadan falls in the summer the days are longer.
Non-Muslims are encouraged to take part in the “fast with a Muslim friend” campaign, a national initiative that connects Canadians with Muslims during the holiest month of Islam.