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Canada: Especially Long Days of Ramadan Set to Begin for Ottawa Muslims

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - Mid-winter is the easiest; by late afternoon a person is free to eat. July is a different story, with days that are both hot and long. Imagine not drinking even water from dawn until almost 9 p.m. 

But Imam Samy Metwally, spiritual leader of the Ottawa Main Mosque, says Muslims don’t view Ramadan as a period of suffering. 

“They feel happy while doing it,” he says. 

The first day or two can be tough, he allows, but once you get into the rhythm of it the fasting becomes easier. 

Beyond that, the imam says the benefits are felt clearly by those who do it. 

Ramadan is a spiritual focal point for the year, a chance to become closer to God, explains Metwally, the 39-year-old former Fulbright scholar who has headed the mosque for the past two years. 

“It refines the Muslim souls and it brings them much closer to God,” he says of Ramadan. “And it gives them some sort of spirituality for the rest of the year.” 

Fasting provides a special connection between a person and God, Metwally says, because it is God alone who knows whether a person has really fasted. 

Abstaining from food and drink, and from sexual activity, for those hours helps give a person self-control. 

“Fasting trains Muslims in servitude and being patient,” Metwally says. 

It also helps those who have attained a materially comfortable life remind themselves what hunger is and remain compassionate toward the poor. The giving of charity is another important aspect of Ramadan, as is reading from the Quran. 

Metwally also describes a “social wisdom” that comes with Ramadan. The month brings a special closeness between people, he said. 

“It brings families together — families and friends and the community,” he says. 

On a family level, the nightly breaking of the fast becomes a great time of togetherness, says Metwally, who is a father of four. 

On a community level, he says it’s an important time of solidarity, which comes out of the spiritual elevation. 

“You’ll find people behaving differently toward each other,” he says. 

That’s special in Ottawa, he says, because the Ottawa Muslim community is so diverse. The city’s 58,000 Muslims come from a great number of different countries. 

“It’s like a rainbow of people, with each one bringing his own culture,” Metwally says. “While seeing the cultural diversity, you would feel the universality of the religion at this time.”

Source:ABNA