Syed Mukarram Nazeer, Canada Correspondent
With the start of Ramadan, Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Canada has launched a national campaign by the name of “Virtual Ramadan”. The intent of this campaign was to allow Canadians – primarily non-Muslims – an opportunity to learn about the blessings of Ramadan “virtually”. Furthermore, it allowed Canadians to participate with their fellow Muslim friends and neighbours, and experience how to start, keep and break a fast, right from the comfort of their homes.
Amidst the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting need for social distancing, this was a creative way for Canadians to experience Ramadan. On 27 April, one such event was held in the city of Abbotsford, in the province of British Columbia, reports the President of Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Abbotsford, Rizwan Peerzada Sahib.
Abbotsford is a city located on the Trans Canada Highway, in the province of British Columbia. It is adjacent to the Canada-US border, Greater Vancouver, and the Fraser River. Located on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the Sto:lo Nation, and an estimated population of 141,397, it is the largest municipality in the province after Vancouver. Abbotsford’s organising committee decided to host virtual Ramadan by uniting leaders and members from across the province of British Columbia and Territory of Yukon.
Eleven cities were united in this event including, Whitehorse, Prince George, Vernon, Kelowna, Victoria, Squamish, Delta, North Vancouver, Surrey, Chilliwack and Abbotsford. Social media was the principal mode to spread the word of this event. A Facebook campaign worked with 8,900 accounts, while LinkedIn catered to 6,833 accounts. The event was reported on and promoted by local CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) radio and TV station.
The programme started at 6pm as a Zoom-Webinar (with a live stream on YouTube), with recitation of the Holy Quran by Mirza Naveed Sahib, Qaid Khuddam-ul-Ahmadiyya Abbotsford. President of Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya Abbotsford, Rizwan Peerzada Sahib gave the welcoming remarks. Missionary of the British Columbia, Umair Khan Sahib then delivered a presentation on the topic of Ramadan.
Following this, 22 non-Ahmadi dignitaries participated live throughout the programme and shared their thoughts about Ramadan and Jamaat-e-Ahmadiyya, including:
1. Deputy Mayor City of Abbotsford, Councillor Dave F Loewen
2. Federal Member of Parliament, Hon Sukh Dhaliwal
3. Minister of Labour BC Legislative Assembly, Hon Harry Bains
4. Member BC Legislative Assembly, Mrs Jinny Sims
5. Councillor City of Kelowna, Mohini Singh
6. Councillor City of Abbotsford, Kelly Chahal
7. City of Abbotsford, Councillor Sandy Blue
8. Chief of Police Abbotsford, Chief Constable Mike Serr
9. Minister of Whitehorse United Church, Reverend Beverly Brazier
10. Interfaith Assembly Yukon Chair, Mr Stuart Clark
11. Hindu Faith Representative Prince George, Dr Pranesh Kumar
12. Baha’i Faith Representative Prince George, Ms Charlotte Wenninger
13. Member Victoria Sikh Temple, Mr Ajit Singh
14. Anglican Church of Victoria, The Venerable Dr Dawna Wall
15. Communications & Development Interfaith Victoria, Ms Beth Gibson
16. Chair Interfaith Kelowna, Mr Gordon Oliver
17. Poet and interfaith activist, Gian Singh Kotli
18. Presenting President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Abbotsford, Mr Carson Noftle
19. Former Vice President Multifaith Action Society, Ms Sukhvinder Vinning
20. Ambassador Reconciliation Canada, Chief Dr Robert Joseph, OBC., OC
21. Okanagan First Nation (Vernon), Chief Bryon Loius
22. Cheam First Nation Chilliwack, Chief Andrew Victor
Naib Amir Canada, Chaudhary Abdul Bari Sahib and Regional Amir British Columbia, Naeem Ahmad Lakhan Sahib also joined the conference and highlighted the blessings of Ramadan. The virtual Ramadan ended with silent prayer. 340 viewers watched it on YouTube, while another 140 joined the Zoom conference. The total estimated viewership is between 500 to 600, as many attended with their families.
Participants were identified from multiple cities in three countries; US cities of Chicago, Los Angles; Canadian cities of Calgary, Greater Toronto, Surrey, Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Kelowna, Kamloops, Prince George, Terrace, Edson, Edmonton, Alberta, Winnipeg; and UK city of London were present.
May Allah accept our humble efforts, and bless us with his Mercy. Amin