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Ramadan 2016

Honourable senators, I rise to speak to you today about the holy month of Ramadan, which began yesterday. Ramadan is a time of great importance in the Muslim faith because it was when the Quran was revealed, one chapter per day, for each of the 30 days of the month.

Ramadan is a time of contemplation, for prayer and for trying to be closer to the Creator. It is a time for self-reflection and a time to consider those less fortunate. It is a time to reconnect with family and the community, to give of yourself and to care for people who are suffering both physically and emotionally.

Ramadan is also a time of abstinence — abstinence from food and drink, but also abstinence from anger, pettiness and judgment.

Over 1.7 billion Muslims worldwide will abstain from food and drink each day from dawn until dusk. Fasting is something that Muslims do quietly and without a fuss. And those who are unable to fast are encouraged to give to charity the equivalent of what one would spend on food for a month.

Charity is an important part of Ramadan. It is incumbent upon each Muslim to donate a portion of their savings to charity. During Ramadan, Muslims are encouraged to give generously.

In my home city of Toronto, through donations and tireless efforts of the Muslim Welfare Centre and Project Ramadan, many Muslim families will benefit from this spirit of sharing. This year, over 4,000 specially prepared food baskets will be distributed throughout the community, with enough food to feed families, including Syrian refugee families, for the month of Ramadan.

During Ramadan there is always a spike in donations, which I witnessed first-hand last year as I helped pack food baskets for distribution at two events in Toronto. This year, I will do the same on June 18 with the Muslim Welfare Centre’s Project Ramadan.

Ramadan is a special time of contemplation and prayers for all Muslims, to look inward, to focus on self-improvement, to think of their communities and empathize with those who do not have enough to eat. Through personal sacrifice, they develop patience, humility and spirituality.

Honourable senators, with over 1.3 million Muslims in Canada, we should be aware that a significant number of Canadians are celebrating Ramadan in this country. Join me in wishing them a happy, peaceful and blessed month. Ramadan Mubarak. Thank you.