With the holy month of Ramadan starting in just over two weeks, members of Calgary’s Muslim community are inviting the public to experience a little bit of Islamic culture.
Calgary Islamic School Omar Bin Alkhattab campus is hosting a Ramadan Bazaar. It is open to the public on Friday from 12–7 pm.
Over 30 food trucks and other vendors are participating, representing the breadth of the Islamic world. Calgarians can find tastes and goods from Morocco in the West to India and Pakistan in the East.
“When you come in, there’s so many different kinds of foods as well cultural, traditional, and very unique flavours that are very, very special to Muslim traditions and their countries,” said Aasima Asrar, chairperson and teacher at the Calgary Islamic School.
An enormous variety of Middle Eastern desserts and treats, food, traditional and not-so-traditional clothing, jewelry, household goods – including linens and ornaments, and even brightly coloured Qurans for Ramadan are for sale.
“The vendors in the gym seem really cool—they sell clothes and perfume and stuff—so I think I’m gonna go check those out later,” said Grade 9 student Mariam Harian.
The bazaar is also serving as a fundraiser for the school. Money raised will be going towards supporting future physical activities programming for the K-9 students.
Re-connecting as a community
“This is the opportunity for us as a community in Calgary, as Canadian Muslims, to come together to support each other, to meet with each other, and to mingle to socialize after how many years of struggling with COVID restrictions,” said Asrar.
The school hosted a parent and student-only bazaar on Thursday. For most parents, it was the first opportunity to visit the school in-person since the beginning of the pandemic.
Among the students visiting the vendors in the school’s gymnasium, the mood was high. Many were excited to have their parents there to visit and to do a little fundraising of their own for the Grade 9 graduating class.
“I like community gatherings because they bring the community together and unify us,” said Harian.
“Personally, it’s exciting for me, because I like to take initiative in my community and I like to help whenever I can.”
Harian was acting as a guide for parents, and helping at the Grade 9 bake-sale table.
Ramadan a time for empathy
Ramadan will be taking place this year from April 2 to May 1. It is the holiest month of the year in the Islamic faith.
During that time, Muslims worldwide fast from dawn to dusk. Asrar said that this was a time to empathize with others.
“It is basically to clarify and cleanse our soul, inside out, and to be generous and be kind,” she said.
“This is the month for Muslims to donate, to be generous as much as they can.”
Harian said that the Bazaar was an important way to share Ramadan with the wider Calgary community.
“I think, since Islam is kind of like a minority religion in Canada, I think it’s important that they should know about Islam, what it is, and the important events that happened, so they can become more educated citizens,” she said.