Publish date29 Jul 2013 - 9:48
Story Code : 136891

Britain’s big iftar breaks Islam myths

British mosques have organized a nationwide initiative to open their doors to people of all faiths to share iftar during the holy month of Ramadan, offering their neighbours a chance to learn about Islam and forge relationships with the Muslim minority.
Britain’s big iftar breaks Islam myths
"It comes when myth-busting is more important than ever," Baroness Warsi, Minister for Faith and Communities said.

"Research earlier this year showed that less than a quarter of people thought Muslims were compatible with the British way of life."

Warsi was speaking during an iftar organized by British Muslims across UK to offer a path to racial harmony.

Dubbing the event “The Big Iftar", British Muslims hoped food can offer a path to racial harmony with the wider community

Warsi was one of the guests who attended the iftar held at the Brent Civic Centre in north-west London last Friday.

Guests gathered around a trestle table laden with rice, noodles, curries, samosas and, in keeping with Iftar tradition, dates and milk.

Similar events have been taking place in scores of community centres, living rooms, parks – even flash mobs – across the country.

Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, started in North America on July 9.

In Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.

The sick and those traveling are exempt from fasting especially if it poses health risks.

Most dedicate their time during the holy month to become closer to Allah through self-restraint, good deeds and prayer.

Around the globe, Muslims observe Ramadan with a set of traditional rituals including family gathering at iftar, religious lessons, special evening prayer and helping the poor.

For Muslim groups, Ramadan is an occasion to educate their neighbours about the religious observance and the Islamic faith in general.

Organizers hope the events would help British people see Islam in practice to debunk myths about Islam.

"It's about reaching out," the Big Iftar's founder, Mustafa Field, 32, a project manager from Brent, said.

"Once you get to know your neighbours you start to understand each other's cultures."

These events were urged after the increase of anti-Muslim attacks that followed the murder of Lee Rigby in May.

"It's about getting the message out that there is a nicer side to Islam," said Altaf Choudry, 33.

"A lot of people have been tainted with the wrong brush."

Mark Buckley, 40, a Christian, welcomed the opportunity to engage with another faith.

"Just as Christians need to get out of their church walls, Muslims have to get out of the mosque walls and engage with people in the real world," he said.

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