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“People are a lot more giving in Ramadan”: Communities come together across Sheffield

Schools, charities and mosques organise community events to mark the holiest month in the Islamic calendar. 

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BQL Foundation Trustees and Volunteers at Zest Centre, Upperthorpe.

BQL Foundation

It’s the month of Ramadan, the holiest and most important month in the Islamic calendar. Muslims from all over the world embark on 30 days of fasting from sunrise to sunset – and yes, that includes not being able to drink water.

For many Muslims, Ramadan is not only a time for spiritual healing. Rather it is a time for family, friends and being connected with your local community.

From Crookes to Spital Hill, there have been events in Ramadan this year to not only bring people closer to their religion but also closer to their local communities in Sheffield.

For some, the mosque is where they find community. Ibrahim Hassan, a student from Sheffield Hallam University, said: “Every year, I enjoy going to different mosques in Ramadan to pray Taraweeh. People are more welcoming and friendly, so I’ve managed to make some friends just by attending a mosque in a different area.”

Taraweeh, meaning ‘rest’ or ‘relaxation’, is a voluntary night prayer performed only in Ramadan. Although not obligatory like the five daily prayers, Taraweeh is a highly rewarded prayer. Most people tend to pray Taraweeh at their local mosque, but some also pray Taraweeh in their homes.

Before Taraweeh, all Muslims break their fast by having an iftaar, the meal eaten at sunset. As Muslims abstain from food and drink during daylight hours, many tend to cook for their families or loved ones by hosting an iftaar event at their house. Others like to host events for their local community.

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Decorations for Iftaar event.

BQL Foundation

Youth organisation Darnall Education and Sports Academy (DESA), alongside Oasis Don Valley School, hosted an open community iftaar event at the beginning of Ramadan which was attended by 340 people. The event, mainly for students in the local area, had a range of sporting activities, arts and crafts and PS5 Fifa tournament. Everyone ate together at iftaar time and a year 9 student led the congregational prayer.

Kamran, director of DESA, told me: “We planned this event in the hope that some students would be able to come together and do some fun activities before opening their fast. We never thought that this event would gain this much traction!

“It was amazing to see adults and children from all walks of life attend the event and learn more about Ramadan. It was a special event with amazing food and amazing company. I’m excited to coordinate future events that have the ability to bring people from all parts of the Sheffield community together.”

Charities have been involved this year too. BQL Foundation, a charity founded by locals in Sheffield, hosted its first iftaar event on Saturday 15 April. The ticketed ladies' iftaar event had henna stalls, a bake sale and other activities. The money raised will go to feeding, clothing and providing shelter to orphans in the Gambia.

Ahmed Audhali, co-founder of BQL Foundation, commented: “What we have noticed is that people are a lot more giving in Ramadan compared to any other month in the year. We have ran our ‘Cakes 4 Orphans’ campaign for three years now and saw immense success. This year, we have decided to host our first big iftaar charity event.”

This sense of community and increased generosity is of course not singular to Sheffield. Across the UK, organisations are hosting community iftaar events to increase awareness of the month of Ramadan, bring people together and raise money for charitable causes.

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