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Mourning and worry cast pall over Ramadan this year for many Muslim Canadians

As Muslim Canadians welcome the arrival of Ramadan at sundown today, some say the festivities and joy that usually accompany the holy month will be absent this year as many mourn the loss of life and continued suffering in Gaza. 

For Reem Sultan and her family in London, Ont., the month of dawn-to-dusk fasting, prayer and family gathering will look very different this year.

Sultan says she and her community are reckoning with grief, anger and profound sadness as the death toll from the latest war between Israel and Hamas continues to rise in Gaza.

Sultan says the decorations and bright lights she normally puts up around her home will stay down this year, and her family won’t be breaking their fast with the typical desserts and treats she usually makes.

As Sultan and her family worry about Gazans without access to food, she will be earmarking the money saved on celebratory foods and decorations for iftar, the traditional meal shared after fasting, to send to relatives and friends in Gaza.

For Sultan and her family, the focus of prayers this month will be for an end to the violence and an urgent ceasefire. 

“This is not festive and we can’t be happy. We can’t be joyful when we are watching our relatives and brothers and sisters in faith being murdered day in and day out,” she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 10, 2024.

The Canadian Press

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