Fatima Sidaoui

Staff Writer, The Circle

The students of the Islamic School of Cambridge have already started preparing for Ramadan, with the help of their imams, teachers, and volunteers. In this article the Assistant Imam, Adam Patel, and the active member in the community, Niveen Shrem, share their experiences at the school, plans for the upcoming Ramadan, and bits of their personal lives.


Tarawih Prayer

Tarawih prayer is one of the special rituals observed yearly at the Islamic Centre of Cambridge (ICC). This year, Sheikh Adam Patel will lead the tarawih prayers every night. Patel is the Assistant Imam at the Islamic School of Cambridge. He assumed his role in September 2016, after he had completed seven years of education abroad. Patel was born and raised in Canada, and as soon as he turned 12, he moved to South Africa to begin his seven-years journey of Islamic education. After he had finished memorizing the whole Quran there, he then moved to India to continue his studies in Islamic Theology.

On his involvement with the Muslim community in Cambridge, Patel indicated that he runs Quran programs after school and in the evening, where he teaches over 24 students the basics of Quran and helps them with memorization. He occasionally gives brief lectures before Jumaa congregations at the mosque adjacent to the school.

One of the challenges Patel faces is the cultural difference between the Canadian context and the academic institutes he was affiliated with. At the same time that Patel is adjusting to the cultural distinctions, he is also dealing with the changes that come with the transition from the student-life to the workplace. Yet Patel is enjoying the early stages of his career as an imam as well as the interaction with students and senior imams, and describes the experience as positive.

In terms of his plans for Ramadan, besides leading tarawih, Patel will also be engaging with students to teach them about the blessed month of Ramadan as part of his evening classes. Since Patel is also continuing his education at Conestoga College in addition to his responsibilities at the Islamic Centre, he has little time for additional activities. He intends to spend whatever free time he has in reciting the holy Quran. When asked about his favourite Ramadan ritual, Patel replied: “I usually spend the pre-dawn time and the hour after Fajer in reciting Quran.”

Ramadan Festivities at the School

As soon as you walk into the school, fancy handmade lanterns dangling from the ceiling catch your eyes and immediately transfer you into the atmosphere of Ramadan. Decorating the school in anticipation of Ramadan is an activity the students look forward to, with the guidance and support of Niveen Shrem.

Shrem is a volunteer at the ICC and the founder and owner of Shrem Arts and Crafts, an educational webpage on Facebook that aims to raise Islamic-conscious kids through hands-on activities. The webpage contains over 400 activities in the areas of Islamic knowledge, etiquette and manners, charity, homework, reading, etc. Shrem believes that creative activities encourage kids to effectively use their time in a way that contributes to their intellectual, social, and spiritual growth.

Shrem has been involved with the Islamic School of Cambridge for 17 years, bringing her passion for the arts through decorating the school for various occasions year-round. With the help of students, Shrem has decorated the school for Ramadan 2017. Her motivation is to “help students celebrate the coming of Ramadan through fun activities,” Shrem said.

On her webpage, there are 50 Ramadan-related activities. These include DIY Ramadan decorations and recipes for special desserts, as well as activities such as countdown to Ramadan, moon sighting, itikaf, building knowledge about Ramadan, wisdom of Ramadan, duaa and hadiths, etc.