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Community Iftar – Bath Spa University

BSU community comes together to enjoy an Iftar meal

Thursday, 4 April, 2024

Students, staff, families and His Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant of Somerset came together at Bath Spa University to enjoy an Iftar meal.

As part of the festivities, attendees from multiple faiths learned about Ramadan around the world and the diversity of Islam through the different ways the holy month is welcomed and celebrated. 

What is an Iftar?

An Iftar is the meal eaten by Muslims when breaking their daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan. Ramadan is the ninth month in the Islamic calendar. Muslims are expected to fast and reflect during this, with the fast lasting from the break of dawn until sunset.

Speaking about fasting during Ramadan, Dr Norah El-Gohary, Muslim Chaplain and Teaching Fellow in Psychology said:

“Fasting is seen as a physical battle between your body and your heart. Your body aches for that sip of water or that morsel of food, but your heart says no; fasting is when you hand over the reigns to your heart and place it in control. 

“Fasting the month of Ramadan is not meant to be easy. It is seen as a tough training exercise, so that at the end of it, you are strong enough to stop yourself from committing any sins. It is hoped that by taking part in the act of fasting and worship for this month, each person will have developed a better consciousness of God and will come out the other end a better version of themselves.”

Enjoying an Iftar as a community

Over 60 students, staff, families and the Lord Lieutenant for Somerset met before sunset. To kick off the event, a representative from Bath Mosque spoke about Islam, the purpose of fasting, and the month of Ramadan.

A representative from the charity Islamic Relief UK spoke about the organisation’s Disaster Emergency Care (DEC) work. And some of the Muslim students shared what it would be like to go to India, Indonesia and Palestine in the month of Ramadan. Dr El-Gohary also shared what Ramadan typically looks like in Egypt. 

At sundown, there was a call to prayer led by Bath Mosque’s representative, and dates and water were shared as a traditional break to fasting.

The president of University of Bath’s Islamic society then led prayers for the group, before the Iftar meal began.

A feast of curry and flatbreads was provided by Bath-based Bandook Kitchen. The Students’ Union provided space for everyone to celebrate together, and respectfully acknowledging the festivities, stopped the sale of alcohol throughout. 

His Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset joined the festivities

Following an invitation, Mr Mohammed Saddiq, His Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset, joined the Bath Spa University community festivities. 

In a letter of thanks, Mr Mohammed Saddiq, His Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset said:

“It was such a joy to be included in such a meaningful and inclusive event, celebrating the spirit of Ramadan within the Bath Spa University community. (…) I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to join in the festivities and joy in breaking the fast together.”

An opportunity to be curious about faith practices

As part of a calendar of events at the University, the celebration in the spirit of Ramadan helps students, staff and the community to find a sense of belonging and enables curiosity and learning about the many beliefs and faith practices that make up the BSU community.

Katy Garner, Chaplaincy Team Leader and Anglican Chaplain said;

“It’s wonderful to see people coming together from multiple faiths to learn about and enjoy Muslim festivities. It was great, even though I’m not Muslim myself, to take part in the experience of fasting, breaking fast, and learning about the practice together. 

“There are so many people to thank for their effort in making this meal such a success, but Diane at the Student Union so generously offered the SU bar space, without which this event would not have taken place – Thank you Diane. 

“We’re so pleased to be able to offer opportunities to share in faith practices in the Bath Spa University community and look forward to more events coming up.”

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