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Eid-al-Fitr is a reminder of humanity for Calgary’s Muslim community

As the sun began to set on Tuesday evening, David Drinnan broke his fast for the last time this year and set out to celebrate the start of Eid-al-Fitr with a group of his friends.

Eid-al-Fitr, which literally means the celebration of breaking fast in Arabic, is one of the two major holidays for Muslims. 

It marks the end of Ramadan and the start of the new month of Shawwal.

Every year on Eid-al-Fitr, Muslims across the world, and here in Calgary, gather with friends and family for feasts and festivities.

Drinnan, however, says this year is especially memorable for him. 

It’s the first time he’s observed the holy month in its entirety after fully embracing Islam around five years ago.

“It was hard at the beginning, but the last 10 days have been especially great,” Drinnan said.

“I think it’s something that a lot of people looking in, they don’t understand, but if you give it a try, even … for one day, for people who aren’t Muslims, it helps you really gain insight about the perspective that Muslims have.”

Women in colourful clothing kneel and pray
People pray during Eid al-Fitr at Winnipeg’s RBC Convention Centre on Wednesday morning. (Brittany Greenslade/CBC)

During Ramadan, Drinnan explored the different mosques and Islamic centres around Calgary, talking with people from different age groups and cultural backgrounds. 

Through that, he says, he’s learned more about Islam, fasting, and self improvement. 

Now, after fasting for 30 consecutive days, he and nearly 100,000 others in Calgary’s Muslim community will wake up with a much-awaited morning coffee and breakfast.

The first day of Eid usually starts off with a special prayer in the morning. In Calgary, there are at least 10 held across every quadrant of the city; in mosques, community centres and at banquet halls to accommodate for the city’s growing Muslim population. 

According to the city’s most recent census data, Islam is the third-most practiced religion in Calgary with a total of 95,925 followers.

That increase is something Calgary Imam Fayaz Tilly has witnessed first hand. 

At prayers and community gatherings, he says he’s increasingly been seeing more people who speak different languages from a range of ethnic backgrounds come together in congregation.

“The community has seen exponential growth. It’s much more diverse and multicultural,” said Tilly.

For him, that serves as a reminder of some of the core values of the religion.

“What makes everything beautiful is that despite them having many differences … we still unite under faith, spirituality and revelation.”

And at a time of challenges and hardships that both Muslims and non-Muslims are faced with around the world, Tilly says that unity and commonality for everyone, regardless of their faith or religion, is what celebrating Eid and being a Muslim truly means.

“It’s about, not only forming beautiful traits and habits during the blessed month [of Ramadan] but ensuring that we continue developing them through the year as well,” he said.

“It’s about just doing our part and making sure that we leave our world a better place that we inherited.”

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