Montreal

Muslims in Quebec celebrating Ramadan after 2 years of restrictions

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan began this weekend, and Muslims in Quebec can finally gather after last year’s celebrations were held off because of a curfew in the province.

A curfew made large gatherings impossible last year

Siddiqa Sadiq and her family joined for an iftar this weekend after her cousin came into town. The traditional meal is held to celebrate the end of the daily fast which lasts from sunrise to sunset, which this year will take place until the end of April. (Submitted by Siddiqa Sadiq)

The Islamic holy month of Ramadan began this weekend, and Muslims in Quebec can finally gather after last year's celebrations were held off because of a curfew in the province.

Now that in-person gatherings are allowed after two years of COVID-19 related restrictions, Siddiqa Sadiq says she's been busy preparing for iftars at her home in Châteauguay. The traditional meal is held to celebrate the end of the daily fast which lasts from sunrise to sunset, which this year will take place until the end of April.

After two years of not being able to host Ramadan celebrations, Sadiq says the time provided her a deeper connection with herself and the holiday's meaning in a way that wasn't possible amid the bustle of preparations in previous years.

"Pre-pandemic Ramadan was like the Hunger Games," she told Let's Go with Sabrina Marandola. "There's both the whole spiritual concept of discovering your own self, changing things that you want to change about yourself, adopting new things, and I wasn't doing any of that before 2019."

"There was really no time to reflect or to pray or do the extra prayers. And by the time I was back home from work, there was always stuff happening.

She said doesn't want to let that go as things begin to open up. 

Siddiqa Sadiq, left, shares a meal with her family after her cousin came into town for a visit to celebrate the start of Ramadan this weekend. (Submitted by Siddiqa Sadiq)

"The last two years I discovered so much about myself," she said. "I have a 14-year-old and we reflected a lot about ourselves. We connected a lot, and I feel like now that we have no restrictions… all my weekends are already filling up."

Hiba Aziz, who lives in Laval and is also getting ready for the holiday, said she's happy to finally be able to gather with friends and family, but that it will be bittersweet because it will be her first Ramadan without her brother, who died in November.

"Every year our elders would say, 'Do as many good deeds as you can, because you may not have the chance the next time [around],'" said Aziz. "You never really think about it – and then my brother passed away in November due to a heart attack."

For the last 10 years, Aziz has held a charity drive during Ramadan, collecting money from friends and family to send to non-profit organizations around the world. She also sends donations to her father in Pakistan, who organizes soup kitchens and donates toys and clothes to people who need them. 

Siddiqa Sadiq from Chateauguay and Hiba Aziz from Laval tell Sabrina what it's like to observe Ramadan after the last couple were done under pandemic restrictions.

"It's not just about fasting, it's also empathizing with the people who are less fortunate than us, who cannot eat, cannot drink," Aziz said. "I try to involve my kids so that when they become adults they continue the tradition of sharing what we have."

She said her 12-year-old son has shown more interest in the giving aspect of Ramadan since 2020, when lockdowns caused many around the world to lose their jobs. 

Asked about ways non-Muslims can support Muslims as they fast, Sadiq called on people to be open and to show a curiosity in learning more about the tradition. 

"We're honestly happy when someone asks us about Ramadan and fasting," Sadiq said.

Aziz said she's thankful for all her non-Muslim friends who celebrate with her each year. 

"I've been very lucky. I have Hindu, Christian, Jewish – all kinds of friends, and they're extremely supportive of Ramadan," she said.

now