This specific date was no coincidence. As it marked the beginning of the month of Ramadan, students were reminded of our responsibility towards Allah’s creation and renewed their commitment to helping those who are less fortunate, regardless of belief and background. They were able to put faith into practice and exercise the ethics of Islam as Shi’a Ismaili Muslims.
In Montreal, 23 students from the surrounding area gathered along the banks of the Canal Lachine, a waterway passing through the southwestern part of the Island of Montreal, to remove garbage from the park and sort recycled materials. They also took care of the fragile and diverse ecosystem along the canal by removing weeds. This was conducted in partnership with Pro-Vert, a non-profit organisation aiming to improve the quality of life of Montreal’s citizens through cleaning and recycling initiatives, as well as creating and maintaining a visually pleasing environment with various partners. This particular event echoed what students have been learning throughout the year about their role in caring for Allah’s creation. A few months ago, students participated in a secondary Bait-ul Ilm event entitled Nuit Blanche. The theme was centred around stewardship and ethical responsibility toward the natural environment. This Ismaili CIVIC day was an opportunity for students to put their learning into practice.
The students all benefited from the experience, with one of them stating, “I enjoyed cleaning this waste because it makes me happy to help our planet.” They also respected the idea of “teamwork for a cleaner environment.” The initiative encouraged students to interact with the community, and they “loved how people would ask us questions about our activity and appreciated our service.”
In Sherbrooke, 25 students visited the résidences monchénou, a care home for people with disabilities, in an effort to serve the social environment. The visiting group helped residents with everyday chores, such as cleaning, sorting out the garbage, and most importantly, creating meaningful interactions with people from various backgrounds. Students highly benefited from the unique experience with one young participant Mawladad stating, “It was a great pleasure serving the community we live in. I was really happy for having the chance to help someone, even a little. I believe that by serving without expecting any reward we can feed our souls with happiness, a kind of happiness that is real, and I truly felt it that day.”
Students also realised that “Ramadan does not necessarily only mean to fast, but also, to be a good person throughout the month.” They have understood the notion of empathy by stating that “Ramadan is about taking care of things around us and to try to understand other people’s problems.”
These two simultaneous events marked the beginning of a newly-formed partnership between the Bait-ul Ilm team and Ismaili CIVIC to encourage community engagement and promote civic responsibility among younger members of the Jamat.