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Beginning of Ramadan

Honourable senators, I rise today to speak to the month of Ramadan, a holy month that Muslims around the world observe. Ramadan is one of the five pillars or fundamental beliefs of Islam. Muslims observe Ramadan as a commemoration of the revelation of the Quran from God to our prophet, Muhammad. Peace be upon him.

During this month, Muslims abstain from food and drink from dawn until sunset, all while continuing their daily lives. Abstinence from food and drink for 18 hours a day is intended to be a literal cleansing of the body from life’s physical vices, as Ramadan encourages people to break from undesirable habits.

While Ramadan is about practising self-restraint with physical action, it also promotes self-discipline with respect to our emotions, our words and our thoughts.

Just as a fast may be nullified with food and drink, it can also be nullified with foul language, anger, aggression and wishing ill towards others.

This is a month of patience and self-reflection. It is thus obligatory for all Muslims to reflect upon and give thanks through prayer for everyday blessings that have been given to them.

Charity is also an important part of this month. People incapable of fasting for various reasons are encouraged to donate a portion of their wealth. Moreover, Muslim communities across Canada will be engaging in charitable activities, including fundraising for the poor here in Canada and around the world, as well as preparing meals for the disadvantaged and homeless.

During Ramadan, there is always an increase in donations to charitable organizations, which I have witnessed first-hand over the past two years as I have helped pack food baskets for distribution at the Muslim Welfare Centre in Toronto.

Honourable senators, it is no secret that the Muslim community in Canada has been suffering from an increase in anti-Islamic sentiment in recent times, from the terrorist attack in Quebec to the tearing of the Quran and shouting of hateful comments in a public school board meeting in Ontario. We recognize the challenging times we live in. Nevertheless, this month serves as a reminder for all Muslims to demonstrate patience, seek forgiveness, forgive others and resolve conflicts.

The month of Ramadan also encourages communities to come together and neighbours to break bread with one another. Just as Muslims believe that the doors of heaven are open during this month, the doors of our mosques, community centres and even our homes are open to everyone. With this in mind, I invite Canadians from all faiths to take the opportunity to visit their local Muslim community centres or mosques.

Honourable senators, I ask that you please join me in wishing the 1.5 million Muslim Canadians a month full of blessings, peace and happiness. Ramadan Mubarak. Thank you.