Toronto's Mosques struggle to meet Iftar demands

Toronto's Mosques struggle to meet Iftar demands

By Washim Ahmed

As we embrace the holy month of Ramadan, a time for reflection, prayer, and community, I've come across a pressing concern that requires our immediate attention and collective action.

After conversations with several mosques and community organizations in Toronto's east Danforth area, it has become apparent that the traditional iftar gatherings, which are a cornerstone of our Ramadan observance, are facing unprecedented challenges.

A combination of factors, including inflation, soaring food costs, and an increase in refugee arrivals, has led to a significant shortage of sponsors.

Consequently, many mosques are unable to host their regular iftar events, leaving a void in our community's Ramadan experience.

It's particularly distressing to learn that numerous Canadians and refugees, who rely on the Ontario Works social assistance program, are struggling to make ends meet. 

With the social assistance program providing a mere $725, of which nearly $600 is consumed by rent, many are forced to turn to food banks and mosques for support. 

Some mosques have reported accommodating over a thousand individuals daily for iftar, an endeavor that has become increasingly challenging. 

As a result, some have had no choice but to suspend their iftar programs due to a lack of sponsorship and the challenges of managing large gatherings.

This situation strikes a chord, especially in a vibrant community like ours, home to professionals, small business owners, and various community organizations. 

While it's heartening to see private iftars and social gatherings, it's crucial to remember those in our community who are not fortunate enough to be part of these events.

In light of this, I am reminded of a profound Hadith from our Prophet (peace be upon him): "The worst food is the food of a wedding banquet, in which the rich are invited and the poor are left out." ( Sahih Muslim).

Let us not overlook the most vulnerable among us during this sacred time. 

I urge community organizations to collaborate and support the mosque iftar programs, extending your generosity to those who need it most.

These mosques are serving people from your own communities - it's a shared responsibility to lend a helping hand.

To the business owners and professionals in our midst, I appeal to your sense of community and social responsibility. 

Let's come together to ensure that no one in our community is left behind during Ramadan. 

At the end of the day, the strength of our community is measured by how we support each other, especially during times of need.

Let's make this Ramadan a time of giving, compassion, and unity. Your support can make a significant difference in the lives of many.

(Washim Ahmed is a Toronto-based Barrister and Solicitor with expertise in complex Immigration/Refugee and Family matters).