From mid-May to mid-June, Muslims observed Ramadan, a sacred time that marks when the Quran was first revealed. This month, the ninth in the Islamic calendar, is observed by fasting from sunrise to sunset, practicing good deeds, reflection, and other practices focused on deepening one’s faith. For many, it also includes gathering with community and family to break fast. And when the month of fasting concludes, Muslims celebrate Eid al-Fitr.
In 2016 and 2017, Inspirit hosted Eid dinners with friends, grantees, and partners in the sector. This year, we wished to mark all of Ramadan and support change leaders to host Iftars across the country. The Iftars included events with open invitations at city hall, more intimate community Iftars, and Iftars focused on building relationships between Muslims and non-Muslims. Below, you’ll find images of some of the beautiful community gatherings we had the pleasure of supporting in Halifax, Moncton, Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton, Thunder Bay, Regina, Edmonton, and Vancouver:
Bringing together about a dozen people, Shagufta, an organizer in Vancouver, wanted to gather individuals to explore navigating multiple and layered identities, and the meaning of Ramadan in their lives. Putting together a menu for food and conversation, the dinner was an opportunity to create community for Muslims no longer in post-secondary education, but craving the proximity and connections they had as Muslim students. Shagufta told us she hopes to regularly hold space for Muslims she meets in the city and is currently planning a next gathering for later this month.
Recognizing the importance of creating space for LGBTQ Muslims, young queer Muslims in Edmonton have created a meet up group to share and participate in conversations specific to occupying these intersecting identities. Gianmarco and other members of the group brought together individuals from their community and their allies to enjoy music, poetry and a meal the evening of the Edmonton Pride parade. Some of the attendees had earlier taken part in an intervention at Pride, demanding more equitable engagement of racialized and trans members of the community. They shared that the dinner was a meaningful opportunity to share space and support one another.
Focused on bringing together young Muslims in the city, Amani, a recent University of Saskatchewan graduate, organized an Eid dinner for about a dozen individuals. Amani shared that while there are not many Muslim-led organizations in the city, there are young emerging Muslim leaders, artists, and entrepreneurs who are keen to develop new projects and partnerships, which they had an opportunity to discuss over the dinner.
For the last five years in Thunder Bay, young Muslims at Lakehead University, in collaboration with the Muslim Cultural Institute and the Thunder Bay Masjid, have hosted an Iftar for Muslims and non-Muslims in the community. Given that university is a period of transition for many students, this Iftar serves as a unique community building opportunity for Muslims away from home and those who live in the city long-term. The dinner reached 350 people, and created an opportunity for meaningful relationship building across generations.
Led by young leaders and a local mosque, Hamilton had its first public Iftar at city hall. Despite the rain, 1,500 Muslims and non-Muslims keen to support the community came together to break fast. Gachi, one of the young organizers, said “breaking fast together is a beautiful and meaningful way to build solidarity between Muslims and non-Muslims.”
Creating space centred on Black Muslimahs in the city, Rania and Nasma–two organizers in Toronto– hosted two Iftars focused on liberation. With guests including Bedour Alagraa, Yusra Khogali, and Dr. Fatimah Jackson Best, 60 attendees took part in conversation, meals, and the type of healing shared space that is so important, and yet scarce, for Black Muslim women.
Every two weeks, Institut F hosts a gathering for Muslim girls in the city and invite a Muslim woman professional to share her experiences and insights. By exposing these young girls to different career paths and connecting them to a network of their peers, Institut F hopes to build their confidence and capacities. Before breaking fast, the participants participated in a writing workshop. Then, they brainstormed ideas for the upcoming programming and mentors they hope to see Institut F engage.
Although small, the Moncton Muslim community is quickly growing. At the local mosque, there was a call for more individuals to get involved in community engagement, supporting Muslims and connecting the mosque to the wider Moncton community. Five to seven young Muslims quickly responded. One of the recent initiatives they undertook was hosting a community Iftar for Muslims and non-Muslims, to build connections across communities. Shortly after a public invitation was made, the event was over subscribed. The young group of organizers are looking forward to deepening their community engagement with more activities in the coming months.