Ramadan is normally a joyful time at Reem Sultan’s residence, however not this yr.

The London, Ont., resident, considered one of a whole bunch of 1000’s of Canadians getting ready to mark probably the most sacred month within the Muslim calendar when it formally begins at sunset on Sunday, mentioned the humanitarian disaster and violence unfolding in Gaza over the previous 5 months weighs closely on these marking the event an ocean away.

Sultan mentioned this yr’s month of dawn-to-dusk fasting, prayer and household gatherings will look very totally different at her residence as she and her kin grapple with the continued fallout of the Israel-Hamas warfare.

“This isn’t festive and we will’t be joyful. We will’t be joyful after we are watching our kin and brothers and sisters in religion being murdered day in and day trip,” she mentioned in an interview Sunday.

Sultan mentioned she and her neighborhood are reckoning with grief, anger and profound unhappiness because the dying toll in Gaza continues to climb. She has misplaced family members to the violence and mentioned she stays consumed by worry for the protection of her kin and associates.

The decorations and vibrant lights Sultan usually places up round her residence will keep down this yr, she mentioned, and her household received’t be breaking their quick with the standard desserts and treats she normally makes.

“We’ve had a dialogue as a household that this yr we received’t have the conventional celebration, or celebratory gadgets or meals that we usually have,” she mentioned.

As Sultan and her household fear about Gazans with out entry to meals, she is earmarking the cash saved on celebratory meals and decorations for iftar, the standard meal shared after fasting, to ship to kin and associates in Gaza.

For Sultan and her household, the main focus of prayers this month will likely be for an finish to the violence.

“I can let you know that it is going to be the primary prayer amongst each Muslim around the globe, it is going to be to see these atrocities finish and a ceasefire to occur,” she mentioned. “Not solely in Gaza, however in anywhere on the earth that’s seeing crimes towards humanity and oppression.”

The extra muted festivities deliberate for the Sultan family have been additionally unfolding around the globe within the lead-up to Ramadan, which sees these observing abstain from meals and water from dawn to sundown.

On the eve of the holy month, Jerusalem’s Previous Metropolis bore few of its ordinary festive hallmarks.

Practically half of the grotto-shaped present outlets have been sealed behind metallic shutters. The slim streets that run towards Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third-holiest website, have been eerily empty. Absent have been the fairy lights and shining lanterns that may normally dangle above hurried worshippers.

With the Hamas-run well being ministry pegging the Palestinian dying toll from the warfare at greater than 30,000 because it enters its six month, and with a whole bunch of 1000’s extra going hungry, Muslims say there’s little room for expressions of pleasure.

“Because it pains us that the month of Ramadan falls this yr, in mild of the assaults our brothers in Palestine are affected by, we stress the necessity for the worldwide neighborhood to imagine its tasks, to cease these brutal crimes, and supply protected humanitarian and reduction corridors,” Saudi Arabia’s King Salman mentioned in an announcement issued shortly after Ramadan was declared underway in that nation.

Gaza just isn’t the one hotbed of violence weighing on Muslims. Struggle additionally continues to rage throughout Sudan regardless of efforts to attempt to attain a Ramadan cease-fire. Comparable efforts to dealer a pause in hostilities in Gaza appeared to stall over the weekend.

However not all Ramadan festivities have been placed on maintain. As Sultan and her household ache with fear for these in Gaza, she mentioned they’ve been moved to see how Muslims there mark the holy month regardless of the violence surrounding them.

“From what I’m listening to from my household in Gaza, this month does carry them renewed hope and religion,” Sultan mentioned.

“In probably the most determined of instances, they’re adorning their streets, they’re cleansing up the streets within the north the place I’m from, and they’re forcing themselves to really feel that it’s Ramadan… We’re studying from them, their resilience and steadfastness, to say we’re right here and we’re right here to remain and nothing will change that, it’s superb.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wished Muslim Canadians a blessed and peaceable Ramadan in an announcement Sunday, saying the holy month comes at a “significantly difficult time” amid the continued humanitarian disaster.

“Canada reaffirms our name for a sustainable ceasefire in Gaza and the protected, unimpeded entry to humanitarian reduction for civilians,” Trudeau mentioned within the assertion.

Sultan mentioned statements like these equate to “lip-service,” and authorities should do extra to push for an finish to the violence and retrieve Canadians who’re nonetheless caught in Gaza.

By Lyndsay Armstrong

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

— With information from The Related Press.


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