IMG_20160629_154849One of our staff members, Ahmad Khawaja shares his thoughts on what Ramadan is like at Islamic Relief Canada.

With one week of the holy month of Ramadan left, Muslims around the world continue with their new routines: abstaining from food, water, and sexual relations (from sunrise to sunset) to focus on spirituality, self-discipline, good deeds, and charity.

It is a time of both reflection and perseverance, and with Ramadan falling in the summer months, Canadian Muslims will be without food and water for over sixteen hours.

While Ramadan offers its tranquil moments, for all of us here at Islamic Relief Canada, this month will be different. This is our busiest time of year, where close to half of our yearly contributions are received. This is when Muslims are most charitable. With the spirit of giving echoed in sermons across the country, wherever the call rings out, we must be there.

To respond to this influx of outreach, our donor care and finance teams operate around the clock to respond to the queries of our million plus Canadian Muslim population. While many conclude the fast with customary Ramadan evening prayers, our fundraising and outreach team is just getting started. Mosques fill with worshippers for a special night long prayer that will see the Qur’an read in its entirety over a thirty day period. With the community gathered together, an opportune moment presents itself to get our message across. Our dedicated fundraising team will spend their nights travelling to over one hundred mosques to inform congregations of the impact they can make and to collect any donations they are willing to give. Muslims are mandated by scripture to donate at least two and half percent of their wealth to charity each year, and it is up to our team to convince them that our organization will provide the best use of their generosity.

With packed schedules and meetings across the city, the daily grind can sometimes make us lose focus of why we do what we do. In light of this difficulty we have initiated our own Ramadan tradition. Our office staff has always made time to perform their daily prayers collectively, for the remainder of this month however, each person will provide a short “Ramadan Reflection” to share what this month means to them. Thirty days, thirty perspectives, thirty opportunities to remind ourselves and reorient to our purpose.

While this will be the most exhausting time of year for us, it is also the most rewarding. To reach our goals we will miss home cooked dinners and quality family time. We will use commute times to fit in our daily litanies. We will forgo comforts we are accustomed to because we know that all of these things are mere inconveniences when compared to the lives of the people we work for every day. In this way we hope we are true to the spirit of the season.

From our family to yours, Ramadan Kareem.