Ramadan food distribution raises profile of Muslim community

Gregor Robertson, with Haroon Khan, at Ramadan Spirit food distribution.

Gregor Robertson, with Haroon Khan, second from right, at Ramadan Spirit food distribution at Carnegie.

Members of Vancouver’s Jamia Masjid mosque marked the 18th day of Ramadan Wednesday with the distribution of more than 1,000 meals outside the Carnegie Centre at Hastings and Main. Mayor Gregor Robertson and I were on hand to help out.

The Ramadan distribution is an annual event organized by the Pakistan Canada Association and Jamia Masjid, Vancouver’s oldest mosque, located at 655 West 8th in Fairview, just a few blocks from my home.

“We mark the end of Ramadan with as many good things as possible,”  says Jamia Masjid trustee Haroon Khan. “We hope to share the message  of peace that is Islam.” This year’s Ramadan is to end Sept. 20. Food distributions will occur daily, but today’s Ramadan spirit effort is the largest.

Although only about 40 years old, the Fairview mosque was the first in the city and remains a centre of the Islamic community, which is drawing in members from an astonishing number of countries.
Among them are Saudi students, more than 3,000 of whom are in Vancouver at any one time learning English or pursuing post-secondary studies.

At a time when many in Canada are responding to Islam with a mixture of ignorance and fear, the food distribution not only reduces hunger in a poor neighbourhood, it gives a human face to the strength and diversity of the Muslim community.