THE Muslim Holy Month on Ramadan was marked with community Iftar events at local schools, including Fairfield High School and Montpelier High School.
Both were a great success, celebrating the inclusive and diverse nature of the schools and their communities.
Bristol also saw two Grand Iftars, one in St Mark’s Road and the other on College Green, and Eid celebrations were taking place as the Voice went to print.
Fasting in the month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam. For 30 days, Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset, devoting their time to prayers.
At the Iftars, non Muslims are invited to share the breaking of the fast, sharing food and learning more about the significance of Ramadan and the importance of unity.
At Fairfield, speakers represented the Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh and Humanist faiths.
Sheikh Afdal Feroz, the Muslim speaker explained how fasting (largely a spiritual concept) helped individuals appreciate what they have been blessed with and how important this was in the Islamic calendar for encouraging empathy and understanding of other peoples’ needs.
Andy Padget spoke about Lent, the important religious observance and significant fasting in Christian faith. Whilst Lent can take different forms, traditionally people would give up butter and eggs, so no coincidence that Shrove Tuesday is the traditional feast day before this observance begins.
It was explained by Valerie Rassaell Emmott, the Jewish Speaker, that in so many ways Judaism is linked with the Islamic faith. With fasting for three major and three minor times a year, Yom Kippur is the holiest day in this faith and marks a time for atonement through fasting and prayer.
In Hinduism, Tom Aditya shared that, whilst there are a group of Hindus who don’t believe in fasting, many rigidly fast as an act of sacrifice believing it purifies the mind, controls passion/the senses and checks emotions.
Javinder Singh, the Sikh speaker again likened their religion to Islam. Whilst in Sikhism people don’t fast as such, the focus is on sharing food and those who don’t fast out of choice, rather lack of food or money.
The Humanist speaker, Chrissie Hackett, talked about how Humanism wasn’t a religion, rather a philosophy.
Finally, Mohamed Arif, the multi-faith forum speaker shared the importance of helping one another and reaching out to those in need; recently demonstrated by the journey made to Turkey/Syria to help with post-earthquake aid.