A Canadian politician who is fasting for the month of Ramadan told Anadolu Agency on Friday he began the practice to raise money for a food bank, but has been overwhelmed by the support he received from Muslims.
Mark Holland, Liberal Member of Parliament for Ajax, a city near Toronto, said a friend asked him in 2015 to raise money for Give 30, a food bank that asks people to take the savings gleaned from fasting during the holy month and contribute those savings to local food banks.
"I didn't hesitate when I was asked if I would fast with the community as a show of support," Holland said.
He joined the nearly 2 billion Muslims worldwide to observe the fast of Ramadan in the interests of charity and to focus the light on people who are too often forced to fast.
"As anyone who has fasted knows that that not eating during the day is difficult, but too many don't have a choice when it comes to deciding whether or not to eat and local food banks play a vital role in helping those in need," he said.
Give 30 supports 14 of the largest food banks in communities across Canada and the U.S., according to the organization's website.
As of June 9, more than $CAN75,000 had been raised in across the country, so the amount should be substantially more by the end of Ramadan that will end June 24.
"I would love to see Give 30 beat its amount raised from last year which was $170,505," the 42-year-old father of three said.
While the goal is to help the charity, joining in the Ramadan fast has paid other dividends.
"We are fortunate in Ajax to have an incredibly diverse Muslim population; the outpouring of support from the community has been bewildering and incredibly touching," Holland said. "When I first fasted I thought it would be a good way to raise some awareness about a worthy charity doing admirable work.
"I still fast in support of Give 30, but also now it has really served as a great bridge between groups in our community.
"I was fortunate enough to be elected in 2015 and I have been given a platform that I hope I have been able to use to educate non-Muslims about Ramadan and what it is about," he said.
"I hope that I have played some small role in bringing communities together in Ajax and Canada."