Ramadan this year starts around June 6. Daily fasting will continue for 30 days until Monday, July 4. This means no food or drink for many Muslims during the day.
This is a serious time of reflection and prayers. It is not a particularly happy time so “Happy Ramadan” is not an appropriate greeting for you to say to Muslim friends. It is better to learn “Ramadan Mubarak!” which means “I hope you have a blessed Ramadan”.
Non-Muslims can take part in the Ramadan tradition of Iftar, the daily breaking of the fast. Muslim friends might invite you to a meal that starts after sundown during this period. It is part of the tradition to share food with others. When we non-Muslims took part in an iftar meal, we found a cheerful atmosphere with friendly people who answered our many questions about Islam. We shared a home-cooked meal that was more lavish and delicious than anything we’ve experienced in a Turkish restaurant in Toronto. We had fun and laughter especially because of the children present.
Intercultural Dialogue Institute (IDI) organizes two kinds of intercultural and interfaith Iftar dinners in Toronto. If you prefer, its staff can arrange for you to visit a private Muslim home too. It is free of charge but as you would to any other dinner with friends, you might want to take flowers, candy, or a gift for the children. You should not take a bottle of wine, however. Strict Muslims do not drink alcohol. You might want to invite these new friends afterwards to your home in exchange. When we did, our friends had no objection to our having wine at the table. For more information: www.MeetYourNeighbour.ca.
IDI also organizes more formal dinners during this period. These could be at a church or community centre usually with a speaker. These involve many more people of different faiths. At the one I attended, a Muslim leader explained about Ramadan and answered questions. Politicians brought greetings. It was election time then. We had a demonstration of ebru, Turkish marbling painting.
The meal pictured here was also free but you can give a donation. For more information on this program, see: http://www.ramadandinners.ca/.
Some people might feel more comfortable and anonymous in the larger group. At our church-based dinner, the Muslims present were at other tables and I didn’t get a chance to speak with them, alas. I did speak with the politicians and the iman. Our home-based dinner was a more memorable experience. The choice is yours. You could do both.
Please let us know your experiences at an iftar dinner.