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Big Iftar interfaith celebration attracts hundreds of people from across Barnet

21/03/2024
More than 200 people attended the event which celebrates the fast-breaking evening meal of Muslims in Ramadan

Big Iftar

Hundreds of people of different faiths from across Barnet borough attended the Big Iftar last night. The Iftar is the fast-breaking evening meal of Muslims in Ramadan at the time of adhan (call to prayer) of the Maghrib prayer.

This annual event during Ramadan was held at Middlesex University for the second year running and is organised in collaboration with the London Borough of Barnet, the Barnet Multi Faith Forum and the Middlesex University Interfaith Network.

Children from the Barnet Hill Community Choir gave a heart-warming performance on the mezzanine. Beforehand, the Quran was recited with a translated summary by compere Dr Khaled Tawfik from the Islamic Association of North London, which serves the Muslim community in North Finchley. Dozens of Muslim guests then broke the fast with an Iftar meal before taking part in congregational prayer.

The Big Iftar

Big Iftar

Opening the event, Martin Taylor, Pro Chancellor of Middlesex University, said bringing people together from different backgrounds was ‘more important than ever during these challenging times’ in reference to the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

Julie Siddiqi MBE, a Muslim activist with a focus on gender issues and Jewish-Muslim relations, said: “When we started the Big Iftar events in 2012, it was to encourage Muslims to open up, invite people in and share their blessings. Fast forward to now and I’m still humbled and amazed at how far we’ve come.

“This year you’re once again seeing Iftars being held in schools, football clubs, universities and large firms in the city. I never foresaw that happening and in other places of worships, church, cathedrals and also synagogues. This year synagogues are also opening their doors to Muslims and hosting Iftars and given what we have experienced over the past few months that feels more important than ever before and I’m grateful to those who are hanging onto the bridge and keeping those friendships alive.”

Big Iftar 4

Dr Lindsay Simmonds , who is Jewish, co-chairs the Jewish-Moslem Women’s Network Nisa-Nashim, where she works closely with Julie Siddiqi to promote interfaith understanding and conversation. In recent months, Dr Simmonds said the impact of the war in Gaza had been “especially felt by Jewish and Muslim communities globally. It is a time when friendship might seem to make excessive demands for us. This is not the ordinary, everyday, but the profoundly extraordinary. And it's during this most testing of times that we must remain loving and loyal, open and compassionate, argumentative and honest.”

The Big Iftar also featured poetry from the Exiled Writers Ink which brings together writers from repressive regimes and war-torn environments along with speeches from The Worshipful Mayor of Barnet Cllr Nagus Narenthira and Reverend Julie Gittoes, Vicar of St Mary and Christ Church in Hendon.

Big Iftar

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