Iftar celebrations a commitment to unite society

Islington MPs join Iftar gathering at Arsenal Hub

Friday, 22nd April — By Geeta Wedderburn

Merium Bhuiyan with Jeremy Corbyn MP and Mohammed Kozbar Chairman of Finsbury Park Mosque

Merium Bhuiyan with Jeremy Corbyn and Mohammed Kozbar at the Iftar celebration

AS twilight descended on Monday, the community gathered in the Arsenal Hub to break their fast together and begin a week of Iftar celebrations, organised by Finsbury Park Mosque.

Iftar is the evening meal with which Muslims break their daily Ramadan fast at sunset.

Jeremy Corbyn and Emily Thornberry, Islington’s two MPs, joined Zara Sultana, MP for Coventry South, and Islington’s mayor and councillors for the event. The Bishop of Stepney, Joanne Grenfell, and Rabbi Herschel Gluck also attended.

Mohammed Kozbar, chairman of Finsbury Park Mosque, said it was the first time a community Iftar celebration has taken place since the pandemic.

“We cancelled the last two events because of the pandemic – this is the first event we’re doing after it. And what is better than having it during the month of Ramadan?” he said.

Faith leaders from Jewish, Christian, and Muslim centres were among the 15,000 attendees to take part in a festival which cut across those cultures and backgrounds that can sometimes divide us.

“It’s about strengthening the relationship between communities regardless of faith or colour. It’s our responsibility to bring people together,” Mr Kozbar told the Tribune.

Younger generations and 50 volunteering staff had the chance to meet Muslim members of Arsenal Football Club – and discussed topics such as anti-racism and islamophobia.

The celebrations spilled out from the Arsenal Hub and onto the streets the following evening, for the Street Iftar Party held outside the mosque on St Thomas’s Road.

The event was first organised in June 2017, by Finsbury Park Mosque, Muslim Welfare House and Muslim Aid – days after the terror attack on the mosque – to “empower harmony and resilience,” Mr Kozbar said.

“The food was really great, it was open to everyone. We reflected on the month of Ramadan and how our community can work together for the best of our society,” he added.

This year, during Ramadan, the mosque hosted 250 Muslims by day, and 2,000 worship­pers every night, for prayer. The homeless were invited to collect and share food with those who were fasting.

Mr Kozbar said: “Our community wants to serve wider society and to tackle poverty – we are doing our bit – it’s a responsibility on our shoulders.”

Mr Kozbar hopes the celebrations mark a “renewed commitment towards a united British society.”

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