SHAFAQNA (Shia News Association) — A Canadian Muslim lawyer has launched a new donation campaign to feed the hungry in Canada’s largest city of Toronto during the holy fasting month of Ramadan.
“People are giving up something during Ramadan — food — so what if we asked them to give that money to the food bank?” Ziyaad Mia told the Toronto Star.
Mia and a crew of volunteers launched a fundraising campaign, tilted “Give 30”, to feed the hungry during Ramadan, to start later this month.
The campaign, run entirely by volunteers, asks Muslims and non-Muslims to give up $1 a day —$30 for the month — to help those in Toronto who are hungry.
The program idea first came to the Muslim lawyer who has been saving money for his daily dose of coffee, which he gives up in Ramadan, for years.
Saving a good amount of money, he was inspired to give these funds to the truly hungry.
“There’s a big problem with hunger,” said Mia.
“We just don’t want to see it.”
The funds raised will go to the Daily Bread Food Bank, a Toronto distribution center supplying other local food banks.
Muslims make around 2.8 percent of Canada's 32.8 million population, and Islam is the number one non-Christian faith in the north-American country.
Ramadan is the holiest month in Islamic calendar.
According to astronomical calculations, the holy fasting month of Ramadan will start on Friday, July 20.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to be closer to Allah through prayers, self-restraint and good deeds.
The majority of Muslims prefer to pay Zakah for the poor and needy during the month.
Giving charity to Muslims and non-Muslims, Mia was trying to apply a basic Islamic principal of helping those in need regardless of their faith.
“Charity is like a bedrock principle in Islam,” said Mia, who left South Africa for Canada in 1974 with his family.
“Islam’s teaching is that you’re not an atom living in the world alone. We are all interdependent.”
Recalling his early life, he remembers when his family donated food during Christmas and Thanksgiving, even though they don’t celebrate those holidays.
“In the spirit of sharing, we participated in that,” says Mia.
The Muslim lawyer remembers the first time he fasted, in his early teens.
“I thought it was tough,” he says of the first few days.
At the end of the day, he could break his fast, but knew many others didn’t have that luxury.
“For me, fasting also seems to clear the mind, allowing for more deliberateness of action and awareness of thought,” he says.
Canadian charities welcomed the new campaign as coming at a critical time of the year for food banks.
“During the summer, donations are quite slow. Needs are about the same,” said Sarah Anderson, the spokesperson for Daily Bread.
Mia hopes Give 30 becomes an annual campaign, so when Ramadan begins, everyone in the city; Muslim or non-Muslim, know it is time to give to the poor.
“This is a Canadian project,” says Mia.
“And Ramadan is Canadian, now. That’s the way I see it.”— www.shafaqna.com/english