Muslims Helping Muslims during Ramadan

By Colin McGregor

At the Goût du Bled restaurant on Jean-Talon East in St-Léonard, each year a wonderful foodbank pops up just for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

An army of volunteers gets together in the restaurant’s basement kitchen to prepare 1,200 meals a day. These are destined for adherents who need good halal food to break their fast, which lasts from sunup to sundown each day during Ramadan.

“It’s good to do something good, to help others,” says Meryem Zemouri, who, along with her husband, owns the restaurant. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do since I was young. Now that we own a restaurant, I have the opportunity to do it.”

She puts herself in the place of those who are less fortunate, “to feel what they feel.”

Meryem Zemouri stirs a steaming pot of delicious Halal food in the Goût du Bled’s kitchen. Photo: C. McGregor

The effort is entirely funded by the Muslim community. No government or charitable organization gives a penny to this annual food drive. Meryem posts notices on Facebook, and the food and help roll in.

On this sunny Sunday afternoon, the basement kitchen of the Goût du Bled is a beehive of activity. Volunteers stir large vats of delicious-smelling halal food. This is the 4th year of the restaurant’s free food effort. In their first year they distributed 250 meals a day for those in need. Today they will give out almost five times that.

“The need is definitely greater,” Meryem says. “People are having trouble finding a place to live. There are a lot of students on student visas, as well as people here on visitors’ visas waiting for their work visas to come through.”

Muslims have to have nice, big meals when the sun goes down (7:30 pm on this day). So the meals are substantial.

Islam encourages the devout to do charity work during Ramadan, the month during which the Prophet received the Koran.

Ramadan ends on April 9th this year, 2024. Ramadan 2025 should begin on Saturday March 1st and end on Sunday March 30th.

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