Labour Councillor Fasts for the first time to show solidarity with his Muslim friends in lockdown.

Ramadan for millions of Muslims around the world has been vastly diff erent this year. With the covid-19 lockdown being the new normal, Muslims have become accustomed to praying and enjoying Iftar at home. That is not to say that meeting up with friends and family for Iftar gatherings or participating in evening prayers with the congregation at mosque has not been missed. For most it has sorely been missed.

Such get togethers also help non-Muslim friends and colleagues who want to experience keeping a fast too. The spirit of meeting up and opening fast together with your Muslim friends for Iftar (opening of fast) is one to be experienced.
Sadly, that is not meant to be this year, however that did not deter Councillor Richard Dunbar from keeping his very first fast this year.
“I’ve always wanted to keep a fast, but never got round to it.” The Thornton and Allerton ward councillor told Asian Sunday.

“One of my friends asked if I would join in a solidarity fast and with lockdown, I thought why not.”

Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, where they abstain from food and drink, (not even a drop of water) for 30 days. This year if you are fasting in the UK, daytime is around 18 hours. That is a pretty long time to be without food and drink.

So how did first timer Cllr Dunbar find his fast?

“Going without food really made me think how diff icult it must be for those who have very little. It gave me a chance to get into their head space.”

On being asked if he found the fast difficult: “Well the toughest part was when it got to 7pm, I was conscious about not eating and drinking and decided to distract myself with a trip to the supermarket. However, I was lucky I got a lot of support from my mum, who called me a few times during the day to check in on me and my council work kept me busy most of the day, so it went relatively quickly.”

Cllr Dunbar admits, that after abstaining from food for so many hours, he planned to ‘eat a lot’ when his fast opened, but apart from his guilty pleasure of a chocolate bar, he only managed some pasta during Iftar.

Reflecting back on his day he said: “It’s a bit of a shock when I look back and realise, I’ve gone without food and water for 18 hours. The reactions from my Muslims friends and others has been so endearing.

“To get support and validation from Muslim colleagues and others, it makes it worthwhile and I would most definitely do it again.”

Many more will be showing solidarity and raising funds by participating in Friday Fasting. The Bradford Foundation Trust is inviting people to join in the experience. Learn more and see how you can support in the video below.