Drive-thru Iftars Preserve Ramadan Spirit of Giving for Canadian Muslims

To slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, Muslims across Canada are celebrating a somber Ramadan at home this year.

Though mosques remain shut, the difficult situation could not prevent Winnipeg’s Muslim community from reaching out to the community and sharing iftar meals in a creative way.

Masroor Khan, the president of the Canada Pakistan Trade and Cultural Association of Manitoba, said finding a way to observe Ramadan this year was challenging.

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“We cannot get together, we cannot talk and sit and eat together, but we can definitely serve in some form or another,” he told CBC.

“It’s very saddening,” for the community not to be able to gather, he said, which is why organizations knew they had to come up with a plan to observe the holy month while respecting public health rules. 

“You’re trying to somehow mitigate that kind of sadness, and offset that kind of negative impact on people. We want them to be optimistic. We want our organization to be a ray of hope for them.”

A volunteer wears a mask and gloves to bring meals to people at a drive-thru at Winnipeg’s Grand Mosque on Friday. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)
A volunteer wears a mask and gloves to bring meals to people at a drive-thru at Winnipeg’s Grand Mosque on Friday. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

Drive-thru Iftar

In order to serve the community, two booths are set up in the city’s Grand Mosque parking lot for five iftar meals every night from 7-8pm.

“We wanted to do everything right,” he said.

“Everyone is working full-time, so basically Ramadan is a test of their steadfastness and patience, because they follow their normal routine, but they don’t eat or drink anything,” he said.

“It feels very satisfying, soul-fulfilling.”

A table was set up in the parking lot outside Winnipeg’s Grand Mosque on Friday, where volunteers gave out iftar meals. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)
A table was set up in the parking lot outside Winnipeg’s Grand Mosque on Friday, where volunteers gave out iftar meals. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

Ruheen Aziz is one of the volunteers who came for the mosque’s drive-thru iftar on Friday night.

“We thought we’d get in the car today and pick up about six iftars for people in the area who we know can’t drive,” said Aziz, who is the treasurer for the Manitoba Islamic Association’s board of directors.

“It’s all about helping the community, just in the area. You don’t have to be Muslim, but the whole idea is to just be able to help the community.”

Ramadan is the 9th month of the Hijri Islamic calendar. It commemorates the first revelation of the Qur’an to Prophet Muhammad.

From dawn until sunset, Muslims refrain from food, drinking liquids, smoking, and engaging in sexual relations).