Calgary Muslims prepare for first unrestricted Ramadan in two years

Muslims in Calgary say they are excited and relieved as the holy month of Ramadan approaches with no COVID-19 restrictions in place to limit gatherings and prayers.

Public health measures in Alberta are being phased out in three stages, with Alberta entering stage two on March 1. That means no more mask mandates, an end to capacity limits on religious and entertainment venues, and limits on other indoor and outdoor gatherings, including Iftar dinners where Muslims gather to break their fast.

Ramadan bazaars are held in schools and community halls as people stock up on Ramadan foods and treats, clothing and decorations for the home.

Aasima Asrar of the Islamic School of Calgary’s OKB campus says excitement is in the air ahead of the first unrestricted Ramadan in two years. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

“The restrictions have really had an impact on the social health and mental health of students and parents,” said Aasima Asrar, teacher and parent council chair of the Omar Bin Al-Khattab campus of the Islamic School of Calgary, place of a Ramadan bazaar which took place on Thursday. and Friday.

“This year we are very excited. Ramadan is a very special and blessed month and we wanted to create a place where staff and families could come together,” Asrar said.

The school gymnasium was filled with stalls, many of which were manned by Muslim women who run micro-businesses selling homemade foods and desserts. Others sell textiles, hijabs, Ramadan decorations and staples like dates.

Shoppers check out Ramadan decorations on sale at a Ramadan Bazaar at the Calgary Islamic School this week. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

“They suffered a lot during COVID,” Asrar said.

Students at the school say they are looking forward to a very special Ramadan this year after two years of restricted worship and gathering with friends and family.

“After those two years, I felt confined to my house and couldn’t party with my family and friends,” student Mariam Harran said. “I feel like this event brought us together and made us feel that Ramadan vibe after these two years.”

“At home we usually decorate and you usually have the excitement of others seeing who makes the best decorations and now we can do it again because COVID is less,” Hadia Rahman said.

Hijabs are among the many items sold in Calgary’s Ramadan bazaars ahead of the Islamic holy month. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

Others, like Anmar Kaddoory, say this Ramadan is about restoring ties with his community.

“After years of quarantine, social distancing and lockdown, we can connect with each other after a long time,” Kaddoory said.

“I am looking forward to Ramadan. Few Muslims were able to do what we did before and now we have the chance to experience what life was like before,” Khalid Binmahfooz said.

Ramadan is expected to start on April 2, depending on the moon sighting, until Sunday, May 1.

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