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Muslims Serve Up In Inner City

Islamic community brings celebration to less fortunate residents

Jeff Holubitsky, The Edmonton Journal
Published: Monday, November 6, 2006

EDMONTON - More than 600 inner-city residents were the guests of Edmonton's Islamic community on Sunday at an annual roast beef dinner at the Boyle Street Co-op.

"Being the Islamic community they get a lot of bad rap, but they are part of the community and this is community sharing," Tom FitzPatrick said, moments after finishing his roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, vegetables and dessert.

"The fact that they do it is beautiful."

Salma Ahmed, left, Sana Atiq and Dure Atiq serve roast beef dinner at the Boyle Street Co-op to celebrate Eid, the festival that follows the Islamic holy month Ramadan.  Larry Wong, The Journal

FitzPatrick, a carpenter, lives in the downtown area and regularly volunteers to peel potatoes for inner-city dinners.

He said many people attending Sunday's dinner were from nearby shelters or were workers from other provinces who can't afford a decent place to live.

"A lot of people come to Alberta because it's the land of milk and honey, but it isn't the land of milk and honey unless you have the (trade) ticket and experience," he said.

"The streets aren't paved with gold here."

Sunday's dinner was the fifth put on by the Islamic Family Social Services Association and the Edmonton Council of Muslim Communities, representing more than 40 cultures.

"It commemorates the end of Ramadan, our festive month," said Nazia Islam, one of the event's organizers. "At the end of Ramadan we celebrate Eid, and this is sort of our giving back to the community."

When Ramadan ended Oct. 24 it was followed by Eid feasts held by families and Islamic groups.

This Eid dinner, coming exactly two weeks after the end of the holy month, is for the less fortunate because giving to the needy is one of the five pillars of the Muslim faith, Islam said.

"It is one of the most important pillars of Islam."

More than 65 volunteers helped out.

Hope Hunter, director of the Boyle Street Co-op, said the inner-city community appreciates the meal, particularly when it happens to fall during the long stretch between Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

"This is not a charity soup line, it's a really nice meal," she said. "As an organization they represent a very diverse group of people, and I think to respectfully engage with this community is important."

Dure Atiq, a volunteer from southwest Edmonton, spent most of the afternoon serving meals. Originally from Pakistan, she said her fellow volunteers came from many different places, including the Middle East, India and Africa.

"Everyone is coming together to help," she said. "This is just to share some of the good fortune you have and, especially, after the month of Ramadan."

© The Edmonton Journal 2006

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