I rise today to mark the Holy Month of Ramadan which is being observed by Muslims across Canada and around the world.
Muslims observe Ramadan as a commemoration of the revelation of the Quran from God to our beloved Prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him) and this month constitutes one of the five fundamental pillars of the Islamic Faith.
During this month, Muslims abstain from food and drink from sunrise to sunset, all while continuing their daily lives, quietly and without a fuss. I myself have sat in this chamber, fasting, but I have continued to fulfil my duties as a Senator.
On the surface, Ramadan may seem simple enough, but on the contrary, this month is much more than abstaining from food and drink. It brings together many of the pillars of the faith, including, strengthen one’s faith, prayer and charity.
The physical aspect of Ramadan is intended as a cleansing of the body; it encourages us to break from all undesirable habits. The physical feeling of hunger also serves as a powerful reminder of the millions of families who go hungry every day. Putting yourself in the shoes of a hungry mother or a desperate father who cannot feed his or her starving children reminds you to be thankful for all of your blessings.
Charity, additionally, encompasses an important part of this month, especially for those incapable of fasting for various reasons. A great emphasis is placed on helping those in need and everyone is encouraged to donate a portion of their wealth during this time. Accordingly, Muslim communities across Canada are currently engaging in charitable activities which benefit the less fortunate here in Canada and around the world.
The Muslim Welfare Centre of Toronto’s Project Ramadan Initiative is one such example of the remarkable generosity of the Muslim community in Canada. Having been a proud supporter and volunteer for many years, Project Ramadan aims to build bridges and common ground and helps to relieve the stigmas attached to the chronic problem of hunger in our country so that no person should ever feel any shame in asking for a helping hand during hard times. This initiative has raised over a million dollars and helped more than 15,000 families over the last 10 years.
Finally during this month, it is obligatory for the faithful to make peace with one another and set aside any and all personal animosities. The way you conduct yourself and the things you say are just as important as abstaining from food and drink. It is the ultimate test of patience, of mental perseverance, and of will power.
Honourable Senators, this month affords people of Muslim faith opportunities for spiritual renewal through prayer, through charity and through self-refection and it serves as the best example for the religion that I call mine. I would ask that you all join me in wishing Muslims across Canada Ramadan Mubarak.