Honoring Ramadan’s message
A group of Muslims from Canada invited people from all faiths to come together and celebrate Ramadan, reports AJIT JAIN
By Ajit Jain
Jul 14, 2014

Toronto: At this time in the world when there is so much strife, a group of Muslim brothers and sisters took the initiative of inviting people from all faiths and backgrounds to come together and break the bread.

The event was the initiative of a group of Muslim organizations – Muslims Facing Tomorrow, Forum of Learning, Muslims Against Anti Semitism and Coalition of Progressive Canadian Muslim Organizations – held on July 10 at Eat More Restaurant in Toronto.

“It’s so important that we (irrespective of our faiths) gather together to break the bread,” said the event’s lead organizer Raheel Raza, who is amongst highly applauded multi-faith activist in Canada.

“There are very few places left in the world where Christians, Jews, Muslims (of all sects), Sikhs and the Hindus can sit together to break bread and pray for peace. This can only happen in Canada.”

Ramadan is a holy month when Prophet Muhammad received the first of the revelations from the Angel Gabriel that make up the Quran, explained keynote speaker, Dr Salim Mansur, professor of Political Science at the University of Western Ontario (London, Ontario), who hails from Kolkata.

So, to him, “it is appalling that this period (of Ramadan) traditionally set aside for prayer and reflection, has been turned on its head by Muslim extremists in Iraq, Nigeria, Gaza and beyond as they wage violence and destruction in the name of Islam.”

Instead of “turning inward” and through fasting make it “an act of remembrance with gratitude for what God has provided… the world of Islam has become a strange and fearful place,” said Mansur. “Muslim extremists,” sadly for him and other guests “avow their faith even as they violate the sacredness of Ramadan, perverting this month … with warfare and wanton killing.”

“(We) who do not speak out against this unholy violation are also turning away from God’s gift. (And the sad part is) many Muslims have given it a new meaning by making their violence inseparable from their belief.”

So, the cure for this malady lies within Islam, “malady that grips those Muslims and their leaders, who think that through violent jihad, they will reconstruct their imagined glorious past,” he emphasized.

“Ramadan is the month of blessings for Muslims, should they seek to earn God’s mercy,” the academic suggested. “The path of bigotry and violence in the name of Islam that many have taken is unmistakably that of Satan dressed in religious garb.”

“Last night was a delightful… People from all faiths, from various walks of life came together … (and) what brought them together is their mutual dedication and feeling of responsibility toward fellow human beings who are not as fortunate as such and are trying to survive in turmoil and war zone,” said Aruna Papp, an activist and author of two books, who was amongst the invited guests. “It was an event which allowed me to meet other people who share the same passion as I do, to eliminate violence and work together to bring about peace where ever we can.”

“A beautiful and memorable evening hosted by Raheel Raza in the honor of Honor Diaries – bringing people of all sects and religions on one table in the Holy month of Ramzan – teaching and enlightening everyone the lesson of love, peace, harmony and tolerance,” well known author Samreen Ahsan said in an interview.

City of Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion was to come for the event but conflicting engagements prevented her from coming. She was represented by City Councillor Bonnie Crombie who greeted the guests on behalf of the Mayor. She also laid emphasis on the significance of bringing people of different faith groups on one table to share the meal, that significance being harmony amongst all fellow beings.

“Peace in the world is almost impossible without full participation of women,” chief event organizer Raza suggested in her concluding remarks. “Unfortunately in some parts of the world today, women are not even recognized as equal human beings. So tonight is also an opportunity to hold in our hearts and prayers, those women who are daily suffering abuse and violence globally.”

Invitees included Vahan Kololian, Chairman of the Mosaic Institute; Samir Dossal, President of Canada-Pakistan Business Council; Tahir Gora, Founder of Canadian Thinkers Forum; Miles Sohome, Speakers Action Bureau; Badar Shamim of the Rotary Club and Abdulaziz Dewjee, Organization of Islamic Learning who led the Ramadan prayer with guests, irrespective of their faiths, joining him and others.

(The author can be contacted at – ajit.jain0410@gmail.com)