BURNABY (NEWS 1130) — Prayers, gatherings and the Hajj all look very different for Muslims in 2020, who are marking one of the holiest festivals of the year, Eid al-Adha, this weekend.
The pandemic has halted the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, as pilgrims have been told not to come to the city amid the pandemic, but a Burnaby School of Islamic Sufism says its volunteers are turning to charity to find spiritual fulfilment.
Jamak Golshani is a volunteer with the MTO School of Islamic Sufism and says the school’s centre has been shut down since March.
“Traditionally people go to Mecca and do the pilgrimage. Sufism focuses on the deeper meaning of things, it’s more of a spiritual system. For us, the going and actually circling the house of God is a symbolic thing. More the reality is about knowing yourself, going back into your heart and letting go of all the attachments,” he says.
That spiritual journey includes charity and giving back to the community where needed. This year volunteers with MTO have assembled hundreds of care packages for children, hoping to bring a smile to their faces during this difficult time.
“Charity and community is a big part; our path of self-knowledge is about giving back as well. We’ve been doing charity work since April, basically, creating PPE and giving food out,” he says.
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Preparations are underway in Vancouver for July 31, 2020 Eid al-Adha donation to Children’s Organizations. We will be joined at the MTO Vancouver Centre by: Minister of State for Child Care @katrinacburnaby Deputy House Speaker @rajchouhanmla Minister of Citizens’ Services @annekangmla MLA @janet4burnaby MLA @teresa.wat2013 MLA @bowinnma Burnaby Mayor @mayorofburnaby Councillor @calendinopietro Councillor @burnaby_joe Councillor @james4burnaby @northbnh @soroptimisttricitiesbc Representative from @kfindlaymp office. And more! #charity #MTO #MTOShahmaghsoudi #SchoolOfIslamicSufism #Sufi #Sufism #IslamicSufism #Covid19 #Pandemic #Coronavirus #mtoCOVID19response #burnaby #richmond #vancouver #vancouverbc #MaskingForAFriend
“This time we’re focused on children because we realize there’s a lot of pain out there and parents are suffering and when that happens children are directly impacted.”
The 500 care packages include hand-sewn face masks, journals, colouring books, stickers and school supplies.
On Friday, a number of local politicians helped deliver the packages to a number of local organizations helping children in need.
Celebrating #EidAlAdha, one of the holiest festival on the #Islamic calendar, with @MTOShahmaghsoud School of Islamic Sufism! We celebrate by giving love and donations to children and youth in my beautiful riding of #RichmondBC North Centre! pic.twitter.com/sr79loEbea
— Teresa Wat (@Teresa_Wat) July 31, 2020
“There’s a lot of suffering. Based on the previous [charitable] activities we’ve been doing, we’re seeing what’s happening in the community and it’s not surfacing a lot of times. What’s happening with the kids inside their homes with their families is not visible and we just wanted to bring a smile to their faces.”
Golshani recognizes mental health is a struggle for most of us right now and is inviting anyone who is interested to try free meditation sessions being broadcast on Instagram Live at the account @tamarkozapp. The classes are free and open to anyone from any background.
“There’s a few everyday in multiple languages,” Golshani says, adding this is the first time in history that the Sufi meditation practice is being shared online for free by the group’s international spiritual teachers.