Muslims in Halifax reflect Ramadan’s values by sharing cars

Maan Alhmidi 

Published: May 06 at 6:52 p.m.

The month of Ramadan is not only about fasting and prayer, it’s also an opportunity for Muslims to come together as one community.

A group of Muslims in Halifax, who pray at the Ummah Mosque, started a new initiative to help others to get to the mosque for Tarawih and Fajr prayers during the Islamic holy month.

“We finish the (Tarawih) prayer around 11 pm … sometimes they don’t have the buses available at that time,” said the Imam of the mosque Abdallah Yousri. The Fajr prayer takes place just after dawn around 5 a.m. “At the time of Fajr prayer there is no buses,” said Yousri.

The volunteers will contribute their cars to pick up others who don’t have a ride to take them to the mosque and home again off after the prayer.

Volunteers need to register through an online form and provide their addresses.

Those who need a ride have to do the same thing, so the coordinator of the carpool initiative Yousef Farhat can match those who live in the same area with each other.

About 20 people have filled out forms to get picked up to the mosque so far, while six are willing to help, said Farhat.

“We shared the link to the form on our Facebook page, so people can see it,” said Farhat.

Many others may take advantage of the initiative in the upcoming days. “We host around 400 people on daily basis to pray the night prayer (Tarawih),” said the Imam Abdallah Yousri.

Parking is not an issue as the mosque is surrounded by a big parking lot. “We usually have enough space.” said Yousri. “We share it with two other buildings, and it’s all ours at night.”

Abdellah Said is known among the mosque visitors as Abu-Nael. He’s picking up some of his neighbours in Beechville to take them to Umma Mosque on Chebucto Road in central Halifax.

Umma Mosque opened in 2011. It can host up to one thousand worshipers.

Carpooling “is common here in Canada,” said Abu-Nael. “We don’t have many people in the Fajr congregational prayer,” he said. “If it’s because of the transportation then the carpooling is in place, so people who would like to come for the fajer, can come.”

Said is volunteering with his car to help others to get to the mosque. He said that will make more people able pray. And then “We get more reward for that,” he said.

“It’s not only for the month (Ramadan).”

In Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset, and they break the fast during the night. Therefore, they usually eat two meals. The first is called Suhoor, and it’s before the fast as early as 4 a.m. The second is Iftar and it’s eaten just after sunset.

Umma invites people to have the Iftar meal at the mosque. “We break our fasting together at the mosque – three days a week,” said Yousri.

“It’s a free Iftar provided by the mosque,” he said. “Anyone is welcomed to sponsor the Iftar,” he added, “We get donations from people who come to the mosque.”

The mosque has also a camp for the kids during the Tarawih time. “While the adults are praying, the kids will be playing and learning,” said Yousri.

The fast during Ramadan in Canada is one of the longest in the world. Muslims fast for about 18 hours a day here while they have to meet their duties for work and other responsibilities.

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