I’ve received several emails asking me where / how one could experience this with Muslims if they’re not currently living in a Muslim country, or if they don’t have any Muslim friends. The simplest thing to do is to call your local Mosque and find out if there are any programs / initiatives that would allow you to do precisely this.
In Ottawa, the Turkish community has opened their doors to anyone interested in breaking fast with a Muslim family. An absolutely brilliant idea in my opinion because it gives people an opportunity to learn about Islam and see that – contrary to popular opinion – we’re just ordinary people who eat really well and spend a lot of family and community time during this one particular month.
If you are too shy to do this but are still interested in seeing the hubbub that surrounds breaking fast, then I encourage you to take a walk over to Shawarma Palace at 464 Rideau Street on any given night at around 6.30pm. Breaking fast is at around 7pm and so the line up is already firmly established at this point.
Once you reach the counter, the owners (Muslims themselves and only serving hallal food) will be mitwasyeen feekum, which is an Arabic expression meaning that someone has told them to look out for ‘you’ and they’re taking extra special care to do so, in the spirit of Ramadan.
In this instance and because it’s Ramadan, they have placed on their counter top fresh dates and the plates they give you are, quite literally, overflowing with food. It is customary tradition that Muslims break fast with a date and a glass of milk, as I believe this was the habit of our Prophet.
You’ll be surrounded by Muslims of each variety breaking fast together beneath pictures of Lebanon and listening to Arabic music. Although a small place, they have the best Shawarma in Ottawa and the experience itself is golden.
I recommend a chicken shawerma plate – make certain to take your appetite because you’ll surely need it.
To Colleen: Today you’ve decided to fast with the rest of the Muslim world, even though you’re not a Muslimah. You’re in my prayers and your hunger is shared, my friend.