Ramadan Iftar: A Night of Unity, Reflection, and Generosity

27 Mar 2024

On Tuesday 26th March, Barking Abbey proudly hosted its second Ramadan Iftar, marking a significant expansion from last year's event. This year, the celebration welcomed students from Year 9 to Year 13, alongside over 400 enthusiastic staff and students, all adorned in their traditional attire. The evening commenced with a warm welcome from our student host, Saad (Year 13), who not only conveyed necessary messages but also introduced five remarkable Barking Abbey students.

These exceptional students, ranging from Year 11 to Year 13, captivated the audience with recitations from the Holy Quran. Their dedication and mastery, having either memorized the Quran or nearing completion, left an indelible mark on all present. Particularly inspiring was Saed, a Year 11 student from our ARP, who participated in the recitation. Saed's affable nature and his commitment to Quranic studies outside of school are a testament to his remarkable character.

This year's event was graced by three distinguished guests from Al Noor Mosque, including the renowned reciter, Sheikh Munir Amour. Following the recitation, Dr. Yahya Adel, from Al Noor Mosque, delivered a thought-provoking spoken word poem titled 'What is Islam?'. This was followed by an enlightening talk on 'Ramadan Reflections' by Imam Abdillah Al-Nawfil. This was an insightful talk that gave a spiritual understanding of the purpose of Ramadan and a reminder that fasting does not only include abstaining from food but abstaining from bad behaviour, manners, and language. We have provided further information about Ramadan below.

As the call for Maghrib prayer signalled the sunset, our community gathered to break the fast with traditional Islamic appetizers, featuring dates and flavoured water. The evening continued with congregational prayers led by Sheikh Munir Amour, followed by a sumptuous feast featuring a variety of dishes, including Chicken Bhuna, Mughlai Paneer, and an array of accompaniments.

Amidst laughter and joy, conversations flowed freely, encompassing topics of Ramadan, spirituality, and social issues. The night concluded with an array of desserts, generously provided by our students, including a stunning display of cakes spelling out "Ramadan Mubarak."

In the spirit of giving, this year's Barking Abbey Ramadan Iftar collaborated with the Global Relief Trust to raise funds for disaster-stricken communities worldwide, resulting in a charitable donation exceeding £360.

We express our sincere appreciation to Nigel and the catering team for their culinary mastery, our diligent cleaning team, and the site and IT teams for their invaluable logistical support. Special recognition goes to Saad for his exceptional hosting prowess. Tony and Claire deserve special mention for their hands-on assistance, and our exceptional staff who worked tirelessly to ensure the event's success. Additionally, heartfelt thanks extend to our remarkable students, particularly our talented reciters Saed (Yr11), Zuhair (Yr13), Burhan (Yr13), Suhail (Yr13), and Saad (Yr13), for their courage and dedication. Our Year 13 students, including Arzina, Zara, Diya, Aiza, Alisha, Maria and Zahra, deserve applause for their beautiful decorations at both venues and Longbridge Road. We are grateful to Isma Qureshi for volunteering to supervise these students at Longbridge. Lastly, our appreciation extends to all our students for contributing to a memorable evening and for treating us to delightful homemade desserts.

The Barking Abbey Ramadan Iftar not only celebrated the spirit of Ramadan but also embodied the values of unity, generosity, and community spirit that define our school.

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar and is one of the holiest months of the year for Muslims. It is a month of fasting (sawm – in Arabic) from sunrise to sunset and is one of the five pillars of Islam. The other pillars being: Declaration of faith (Shahadah – in Arabic), Five compulsory daily prayers (Salah – in Arabic), Obligatory charity (Zakat – in Arabic), and Pilgrimage to Makkah (Hajj – in Arabic). A foundational pillar of practicing Islam is fasting during the whole month of Ramadan. This devotional act is observed by over a billion Muslims worldwide today. Fasting is a major act of worship, and it is a powerful means of cultivating God-consciousness in the heart and mind.

Why is Ramadan so Important?

Allah (Arabic name for God) says in the Qur’an (translation),

“Ramadan is the month in which the Qur’an was revealed, as guidance for humanity…so whoever of you witnesses the month should fast it.”  [Al-Quran 2:185]

Muslims therefore observe Ramadan by ritually fasting for the entire month in gratitude to God. By restricting the body’s appetites during daylight hours, believers rejuvenate their spirituality, repair their religious conscience, and cultivate their devotion to and connection with God.

How Muslims Observe Ramadan?

Muslims observe Ramadan by abstaining from food and drink —all out of devotion to their Creator.

They are also called to practice self-restraint and respond to every situation with patience and kindness. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) stated,

Whoever does not give up lying and acting dishonestly, then [know that] God has no need for this person to give up food and drink (i.e., fasting).” [Sahih al-Bukhari #1903]

In addition to fasting, Muslims also celebrate Ramadan by reciting and studying the Quran, performing acts of service, and giving to charity. Muslims complete their Quran readings individually and in nightly congregations that take place in every mosque on the planet.

What is the Purpose of Ramadan?

Muslims fast for the entire month of Ramadan in gratitude to God for His final revelation, which God states is a “guidance to the whole of humanity”.

By restricting the body’s appetites during daylight hours, believers rejuvenate their spirituality, repair their religious conscience, and cultivate their devotion to God, thus increasing piety and God consciousness.

Ramadan is a period of practicing extra awareness about all the things that could spoil our spirituality and fuel the ego that feeds off our catering to its appetites throughout the year.

Fasting is a means of self-control to please God.