Sunday was not the first day of fasting in Ramadan. However, Sunday at sunset is when Ramadan began. Uniquely then, tonight was prayers without an Iftar ( break fast ) meal.
I decided to pray Maghrib, the after sunset prayer, at my neighbourhood masjid, the Islamic Information and Dawah Centre International. It’s only one very short subway stop away, but I always either bike or walk over. Tonight I biked over and made it in time. They had just started.
After prayers, I went moonsighting yet missed seeing it as the moon had actually set at 8:57 p.m. and I began searching the skies just after 9 p.m. Whoops! Next time I’ll keep the moonset times in mind.
I had intended to pray the night prayer, Isha, and the extra prayers, Tarawih, perhaps at Masjid Toronto in downtown near City Hall, but I wasn’t feeling it.
Ended up praying Isha and Tarawih at the Dawah Centre as well. Turned out to be the best choice. Shabbir Ally, the founder of the Centre, gave the most insightful and forward thinking introduction and reminder to Ramadan that I had ever heard.
Brother Shabbir shared numerous instances when it was perfectly acceptable to perform practices in Islam one way, while a fellow Muslim may perform them another way. This many of us are already aware of. Then he went into why this was so…
It was the flexibility that Islam has for its followers to find what works for them without denying the big picture, the main point of faith in Islam. And in Toronto, though he didn’t use the word Diversity, he kept giving examples of it as it applies to our local Muslim Community.
He said Muslims from all over the world, Malaysia, Singapore, Pakistan, Indonesia, and so forth are coming here and meeting each other. They bring along their home country’s Islamic practices, which are acceptable, and coming up against different practices which are also acceptable.
Toronto then, is indeed diverse. Toronto’s Islam is also diverse. In the early late 80s, there was a sudden influx of Muslims from all over the world into our city. I felt as a teenager that an embyronic Indigenous Toronto flavour of Islam was being smothered. I felt we had lost it. Listening to Shabbir Ally , reminded me, it wasn’t smothered, it’s been on Hiatus, and is making a come back.
Before heading home, I thanked Br. Shabbir Ally and shared why I appreciated his reminder of being patient with diversity.
This being my neighbourhood masjid, I’ll likely break fast here somewhere within the next 30 days.