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Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Thousands attend Iftar events in Bradford

As Ramadan begins to come to an end, we look back on some of the Iftar events held in Bradford this year.

Ramadan is a month of reflection and introspection for Muslims across the world to become closer to God and atone for mistakes made in the previous year.

One of the five pillars of Islam, Ramadan sees Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, abstaining from consuming food or water during sunlight hours.

For those who meet the criteria, Zakat is also one of the five pillars of the religion and a mandatory obligation to purify yearly earnings and to give back to those in need or charitable organisations. This can be given at any time of year, but Ramadan is often preferred as the rewards from God are multiplied during the holy month.

Before dawn, devotees begin their day with suhoor, the first meal of the day before the fajr prayer and the start of their daily fast.

At dawn, the fast is broken at the call to evening prayer, usually with dates and water, and an iftar meal is prepared.

People from different communities came together to break the fast on Friday at the Open Iftar in City Park.

However, Iftar is more than having dinner, it can be a spiritual experience where devotees experience gratitude and appreciation to the Almighty for the blessings they have received and express compassion for those who are less fortunate.

Iftar is also a time where a lot of Muslims will spend with family and friends, a time where the concept of community is promoted to receive more blessings from Allah (SWT).

Gathering with family members and reciting ‘Bismillah’ (in the name of Allah) before eating can increase the barakah of food and in Ramadan, the Almighty multiplies rewards for every single act of worship.

For the past two years, Muslims in Bradford and across the UK had to pray from home due to the pandemic and thus Iftar events were restricted to only immediate households.

It is for this reason that community iftars are more important this year than ever before. Over the past few weeks, multiple iftar events have been hosted across the district to break the fast as a community.

Coinciding with the Christian celebration of Good Friday, an interfaith Fasting Friday event hosted by Bradford Foundation Trust, Bradford 4 Better, and Bradford 2025, was held in the city centre where over 700 people turned up to break the fast as a community in City Park.

After the Fasting Friday events and workshops, devotees broke their fast at the Open Iftar in City Park on Friday.

Dr Sohail Ahmed, co-chair of Bradford 4 Better, who co-organised the Fasting Friday and supported the Open Iftar events on Friday, said: “The Fasting Friday events and Open Iftar at City Park went down very well, we had families and different communities of all backgrounds coming together on the day.

“The theme of the day was connecting cultures through art, faith, and communities. We had close to 1,000 people if not more turn up throughout the day, and 700 people at the Open Iftar.”

Kala Sangam Arts Centre also hosted an Iftar where over eighty people turned up to enjoy a performance from Ismail Hussain and break their fasts.

Alex Corwin, marketing, and programme manager at Kala Sangam, said: “This was the first time Kala Sangam has hosted an Iftar and we were delighted to welcome 80 people to enjoy a stunning performance from Ismail Hussain and break their fasts.

“All of the Kala Sangam staff including non-Muslims, fasted for the day and it was lovely to share that experience as a team as well as with the public.

“We have had so much positive feedback from both the audience and our Muslim colleagues that we are already planning to make this an annual event.”

The Eden Project held a community Iftar with members who went on the second-annual delegation trip to Bangladesh including Dr Manoj Joshi, Councillor Ashraf Miah and the Lord Mayor Councillor Shabir Hussain in attendance.

Eyarun Nessa, who organised the Bradford and Keighley Community Iftar and Dua Mehfil, said: “The objective of the event was to strengthen communities by creating a platform to promote and facilitate positive engagement between people of diverse faith.

“As a Muslim, our faith teaches us to respect people from all walks of life. It was narrated by Imam Ali (cousin of Prophet Muhammad PBUH), ‘people are of two types: they are either your brothers in religion or your equals in creation’, meaning everyone deserves to be respected.

“I am blessed to have found friends from other faith who are very close to my soul. As Jo Cox said, there is more that unites us than divides us.”

Further Iftar events are due to take place over the next week. If you haven’t experienced one so far, we would highly recommend you attend one.

Glossary

SWT is often used after the name of Allah by Muslims, which is short for subhanahu wa ta’ala and it means ‘May He be praised and exalted’ or more simply put that all praises are for him alone. This is said by Muslim’s as a show of respect to God.

Bismillah – This means in the name of Allah.

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