Over 300 attend Bedford’s first women-only Iftar

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Rosebuds Iftar. Image: Amina Pagliari
Rosebuds Iftar. Image: Amina Pagliari

Over 300 people attended Bedford’s first women-only Iftar earlier this month, hosted by Rosebuds Bedford Sisters, a local female Muslim community group.

Hosted at The Marquee in Kempston Hardwick, the theme of the event on 3 April was ‘Be an Ally this Ramadan’ and guests included a mix of women from Bedford’s diverse communities.

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar and Muslims around the world spend the whole month fasting from sunrise to sunset.

This means abstaining from all food, drink, smoking, and other physical needs throughout daylight hours. The month is also a time for self-reflection, an increase in devotion, charitable acts, and spiritual growth.

The month is to make a change within ourselves to become a better person and support others.

Rosebuds invited the community to ‘break-fast’ (Iftar) and share the spirit of Ramadan and discuss issues faced by Muslim women. Talks were led by professionals on Islamophobia and Racism, with a focus on the importance of allyship.

The panel of speakers began with a recitation of the Quaran and an explanation of the virtues of Ramadan by Ayesha Iqbal.

She was followed by Dr Nazia Khanom, Director of Equality and Diversity International Management in research and consultancy, Chief Superintendent of Bedfordshire Police, Jacqueline Whittred, Sarah Soyei, Head of Strategy and Development at Equaliteach, Joella Hazel, equality, diversity, and inclusion specialist and Nadia Begum Miah, who told of her experience as a victim of hate crime.

Malaika Khan and Sania Khan took to the stage to perform nasheeds (traditional Islamic song).

The event was open to all, including community and statutory organisations, with approximately 300 people attending the event on the
day, including Susan Lousanda, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire.

Shapna Khanam, Chair of Rosebuds shared her dedication to empower and support women and stated that, “Bedford’s first women-only Iftar united women from diverse backgrounds in a powerful display of allyship, marking a significant step towards solidarity in our community.”

Khadija Amira, Vice-Chair of Rosebuds said she was overwhelmed by the number of women who attended the event to show solidarity.

“It was heartwarming to see women from diverse faiths and backgrounds come together, breaking fast and engaging in meaningful dialogue,” she said.

Lucy Bardner, Community Programmes Director for the Harpur Trust said: “It was such a pleasure for the Harpur Trust to sponsor the Iftar.

“It represented the best of Bedford; women from all communities came together to support each other, share, and learn. It really reinforced our belief that together we can help build a community where everyone can thrive.”

The event also raised £816.63 for Bedford’s Ethnic Food Bank, with FWBeauty and Chiara Photography donating items for the auction.

Sponsorship for the event also came from The Family Gale Trust, Harpur Trust, Bedfordshire Police, FWBeauty, Martin & Co, Open House, The Marquee Bedford, Dadaji’s, ACCMUK, Samsons Academy, Eid in Bedford, Islam Bedford, and Ready Steady Ride.

You can find out more about Rosebuds Bedford Sisters by emailing info@rosebuds.org.uk or visiting their website here.