Battersea’s young people launched a series of Ramadan dinners as part of The Big Iftar this weekend to encourage cohesion between communities of different faiths and backgrounds.
The nationwide initiative aims to encourage Muslims to open Ramadan, be more inclusive and create opportunities for people to come together and build lasting relationships.
The Elays Network, a charity community organisation run for young people, by young people in Battersea, aims to provide space for both skill growth and spiritual development.
Their platform presents both children and young adults with the opportunity to interact with their communities, to make an imprint on society, raise awareness of societal issues and connect with the professional world.
Elyas project manager Mohammed Mohammed said: “Elays’s vision is to serve as a model organisation representing the community, helping to create active citizens.”
They provide a platform for young people to express themselves, working with vulnerable youth to help them regain their skills and confidence and rebuild their futures.
Providing projects under the principles of Islam, they aim to reinforce morals and instil inner peace by teaching the application of the right method and meanings of Islam.
Invites to this year’s event include community organisations, faith groups, the Metropolitan Police, MPs and residents.
“We wanted to invite local community and faith organisations to break bread with us, and join us for a communal iftar with a significant meaning,” said Mr Mohamed.
“Fortunately enough, the community has responded well, with local community and faith leaders joining us.”
Over the last three years The Big Iftar has grown in popularity with PM David Cameron mentioning the initiative in his Ramadan speech, urging people to get involved.
“It is a brilliant way for Muslims to show hospitality and to provide an environment where people feel welcome and relaxed,” said Julie Siddiqi, The Big Iftar national co-ordinator.
“It is such a fantastic project to be involved with. So much good comes from people coming together to eat and spend quality time together.”
Last year, the Archbishop of Canterbury hosted the first iftar to be held at Lambeth Palace, and was attended by Baroness Warsi while the MOD organised a dinner in Whitehall.
Among this year’s events include five ‘Kosher’ iftars organised with other community and faith groups.
“This year a few synagogues and churches are hosting iftars too which is wonderful to see,” Ms Siddiqi said.
“It is a brilliant way to show solidarity and working together and through those events friendships will develop that will run way beyond Ramadan and can be built on throughout the year.”
Picture courtesy of raasiel, with thanks