We have held three iftars at St Peter’s in Hall Green since 2015 and each one has been thoroughly enjoyable and memorable. An iftar is the meal held every evening at the end of a day’s fasting in Ramadan.
Our first one was small – there were 80 people there including friends from two local mosques who did not really know each other. The next one was larger and then it got even bigger in 2018 when we focussed on the theme of standing up to hatred and had some amazing speakers who were working across the city or had experienced hatred themselves.
This year we decided to go small again so we could live up to our environmental theme. By limiting numbers to 100 we could avoid the use of all disposable cutlery and crockery and we gave the platform to young people involved in activism around climate change.
It is so simple and so appreciated to welcome Muslim friends, people from different communities and those who just want to be part of good neighbourly relations along to church for an evening of food, conversation, prayer and friendship.
Here are some things we have learnt:
- We had a clear theme and kept speeches simple – there were activities which engaged all ages.
- We used small tables of 8-10 people so that people could chat easily. We encouraged people to sit with people they didn’t know.
- Food can be so simple – this year we had a simple vegetarian curry, water from the tap and the usual fruit and dates (dates are important part of the iftar).
- We created a space for Muslim people to pray before they ate – we used our church hall rather than hold congregational prayers in a consecrated place. We borrowed prayer mats and made sure we set up the space to point towards Mecca.
- We asked a local Muslim faith leader to sing the call to prayer and made sure we got to this point in the evening on time.
- We invited everyone gathered to join in a simple evening service of compline or evening prayer – we just invited them to join in as little or as much as they wished to.