Bedford’s Muslim community is keeping the spirit of Ramadan alive with an online Iftar to bring people together – and everyone is invited.
The Iftar is the meal served at the end of the day during Ramadan, to break the day’s fast. Literally, it means “breakfast.”
Iftar is served at sunset during each day of Ramadan. The other meal during Ramadan, which is taken in the morning (pre-dawn), is called suhoor. At the moment people will be getting up at 4pm to pray and eat.
This meal is very important as fasters need to make sure they eat enough to ensure that they have sustained energy for the day ahead, especially for those who are still working during Ramadan.
Iftar, then, marks the end of each day’s fast and often celebrates and brings together the community. Ramadan also emphasizes a renewed commitment to generosity and charity, and Iftar is connected to that.
Providing food for others to break their fast is considered an important part of observance; many Muslims across the world help provide Iftar meals to the poor and in-need through communities and mosques.
Those of any faith or none are invited to take part in the special event organised with lockdown measures to prevent the spread of coronavirus in mind.
The community Iftar marking the breaking of the daily fast of Ramadan will take place from 6-9pm on Saturday, May 16 via the Queen’s Park Community Orchard Facebook page (@QPCOBedford).
An online exhibition will showcase the work of local schools, partners’ organisations as well as members of the public from 6-8pm.
A video made by the community, explaining how they will be marking Ramadan differently this year, will also premier live on Facebook on the night.
From 8.10 pm a series of speakers – including those from the Muslim, Christian and Jewish faiths – will take to the stage as well as special guests Susan Lousada, High Sheriff of Bedfordshire and Cllr Lucy Bywater.
The fast will be broken at 8.32pm.
Aysha Magre, from Al-Mizan Islamic school, said, “There’s no doubt that this year will be a bit of a different Ramadan for everyone.
“We all want to do our bit to adhere to the government’s guidelines around social distancing and keeping shopping trips to a minimum, after all, these restrictions are helping to keep our communities and keyworkers safe. But there’s no reason we can’t find ways to celebrate together.
“We would like to invite everyone to join us in marking this important time in the Muslim calendar by coming online to enjoy the breaking of the fast.”
Joe Mankowitz, a member of the Bedford Jewish community who has helped to organise the event, said, “This event is about people coming together to share a meal and celebrate as a community.
“It may sound like a small, simple gesture but after weeks of social distancing the need to reach out and connect with both old friends and new is greater than ever.
“The Jewish community is proud to be involved in such a wonderful event for Bedford.”
Lila Begum, member of Queen’s Park Community Orchard, which helped to get the event off the ground four years ago, said, “We are incredibly proud of the way the Queen’s Park community has pulled together at this difficult and unprecedented time.
“Our own volunteers have been involved in delivering food parcels to some of our most vulnerable neighbours, but we know many acts of kindness are taking place across the community every day.
“Iftar simply means ‘breaking the fast’, and this event is a celebration of Ramadan and an opportunity to share awareness about the Muslim faith.
“Everyone is welcome to join in on Facebook – that’s what Iftar is all about!”
Queen’s Park Community Orchard launched the first Community Iftar in Bedford four years ago. Partners include Rosebuds, Friends of Refugees, Islam Bedford, Bedford Borough strategic partnership, Jamia Masjid Hanfia Ghousia Mosque and Jamia