A London Muslim community hosted an open iftar, a fast-breaking meal, for the public on Sunday night in which both Muslims and non-Muslims were in attendance.
The communal dinner was hosted by the charity Muslim Outreach and the Kingston Muslim Association in Kingston Upon Thames in south west London and saw up to a hundred people turn up to take part in the fast-breaking.
“My dear brothers and sisters, I’d like to welcome you here today to this special event and join us in experiencing one of the Prophetic traditions in this holy month of Ramadan,” said Shaykh Abdus-Samad, the imam of Kingston Muslim Association.
“We all know Ramadan to be a month in which we abstain from food and drink but I assure you it is more than this. It is a month in which we become closer to God through patience, reflection and, of course, acts of kindness to those around us whether they are Muslim or non-Muslim,” the imam added.
During the event, guests had the opportunity to learn a brief history of some of the most important prophets of Islam, many of whom were followed by in Christianity and Judaism, and were told of other important aspects of the holy month of Ramadan.
Shortly after the call to prayer, a variety of food was served. From Moroccan chicken and couscous to lamb shawarma and Pakistani samosas as well as an assortment of desserts and fruits, members of the community were able to experience through food the different cultures that reside in the London borough.
“I always thought Muslims just didn’t drink or eat,” said Isaiah, a medical student studying at Oxford University. “But after today I’ve learnt that Ramadan represents a deeper spiritual meaning to those who observe it,” he added.
Isaiah was also impressed at how the Muslim community were able to retain their energy throughout the day and provide iftar for a large gathering in the evening before going to the mosque for the lengthy night prayer.
“I’m not a Muslim but I try and fast some days in Ramadan to experience what my Muslim neighbors experience,” said Alex, a local resident. “But I’ve never attended an iftar and so I’m very happy to be here, this completes my experience of fasting,” he added.
“I do hope that our community continue to hold events like this. Unfortunately, Muslims in the U.K. are misrepresented by the media and so I believe the only way we can learn about them is by experiencing what they experience and iftar is one such example,” Alex said.
Throughout the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, Muslims across the globe fast from sunrise to sunset. Muslims begin their fast with the sahoor, an early breakfast encouraged by the Prophet Muhammad, and break it with the iftar before going to the mosque and attending the night prayer that lasts till after midnight.