Review written by Babera Khan & Sabah Sufi- Edited by Raeesa Nurani
On Thursday 31st May 2018, Muslim Women of Merton gave their very first council hosted Interfaith Iftar in Merton’s West Barnes library. The Iftar was conducted with the recently elected Liberal Democrat Councillor Hina Bokhari and attended by our newly elected Mayoress of Merton Councillor Mary Curtin.
The gathering included local councillors, faith leaders such as Reverend Rachel Taylor from Holy Cross Church in Motspur Park, The Salvation Army community members, interfaith friends and relatives.
To kickstart the event, cluster teams were set up to discuss how to develop further interfaith activities within the community. An amazing array of ideas were discussed including further gatherings which all faiths have a turn in hosting. This would mean an opportunity to continue to network with other faiths, people working in the council and local councillors.
Speeches included an insightful talk on the month of fasting, its significance to Muslims worldwide by Councillor Hina Bokhari. Hina talked about how it makes a person understand the suffering of those less fortunate and how it feels to be hungry. She explained that Muslims break their fast with a date as did the Prophet Mohammed (peace by upon him) fourteen centuries ago. How this tradition lives on and the beauty of being able to do this with non fasting friends was apparent.
Dr. Emma Wiley also spoke about the spirit of Ramadan and how it creates a feeling of connectedness to one another, nature as well as God and the Qur’an.
The overarching theme of tolerance, understanding of each other’s faith and practices were highlighted by Rev. Rachel Taylor and the Mayoress of Merton.
Following this a minute of silence was observed. This peaceful time allowed for quiet contemplation after which the fast was opened with a date and water.
The iftaar (opening the fast meal) was splendid with a wide range of arabic and asian dishes as well as home made cake which no one could refuse! Sharing a meal with our fellow friends certainly brought the whole event into a festive light and there was much discussion throughout.
The event was commended as a success by all and everyone left feeling very positive about the evening and looked forward to the attending such a gathering again. We hope that this will continue to open up ideas and future opportunities to work together in collaboration.
“…it was a welcoming evening, the food delicious and I learned a great deal”
“…it was much more than the food: the coming together is what counts”
“..a great inspirational evening with nice iftar and good company”