Lambeth communities break the Ramadan fast together
by Dr Hoque
Ramadan, which ended on 14th June, is a very special and important month in the Islamic calendar. It takes place on the ninth month of the Muslim year, during which strict fasting is observed from dawn to sunset.
I am a Muslim and I view this as a month-long school where graduates leave with a developed sense of self-control in areas including diet, sleeping and the use of time to help others. Ramadan is not simply about denying your body food and water. It also involves arguably the more taxing challenge of avoiding ill speech, arguments, loss of temper, patience and mercy, which, let’s face it, we all need more of in these harried times.
My dear friend Miranda Townsend who was also a guest of the Iftar (breaking fast) at St Anslem’s Church, Kennington Cross, writes the following:
‘A very special event took place in Kennington on the last Sunday of Ramadan. Around one hundred local residents, of all faiths and none, gathered together in St Anselm’s church to share Iftar, the meal with which Muslims break their daily fast after sunset during Ramadan. Our Muslim friends joined us after their evening prayers and we gathered together following short addresses and prayers from the rector of St Anselm’s, Angus Aargaard, and from Shuaib Yusaf, a leader from Croydon mosque who cited the Quran and its messages of tolerance and respect for people of other faiths. We then broke fast with dates in traditional fashion and settled in to a magnificent meal, offered by Kowsar Hoque of the Kennington Tandoori restaurant, and accompanied by much talk amongst friends. We were served with great forbearance by the waiters who had themselves been fasting all day.
It felt a great privilege to be sharing this important meal as a community and as friends – to be invited to think of the spiritual meaning of Ramadan and to discuss freely with close Muslim friends the importance to them individually of the month of fasting. Many will, like me, be following up references to the Quran given by Shuaib Yusaf. Of course all present will also be hoping we can share the blessings of 70,000 angels which our friends have earned through their devotion and restraint.
We would all welcome this as an annual event celebrating and appreciating the diversity of our community. Kennington is closely linked in friendship with Bethlehem, another city where religious and cultural diversity are embedded and deeply valued; members of the St Anselm’s community will be sharing this experience with friends there.’