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Univ hosts iftar celebration

Over 100 students of different faiths and none gathered at University College, Oxford, to celebrate an interfaith iftar, together with the Master of the College, Valerie Amos, and Chaplain and Welfare Fellow, Andrew Gregory.

The event marks the first time such an interfaith event has been held in the Hall. Traditionally, iftar is the meal eaten by Muslims after the sunset prayer during Ramadan. The start of the call to prayer, or Athan, marks the end of the fast.

During the event, Hamzah Sheikh (Chemistry, 2020) explained the significance of Ramadan in Islam and the reasons why Muslims fast. He talked about how fasting increases empathy with the less fortunate, discussing how food insecurity remains both a global issue and a local one, in light of recent inflation. Moreover, he discussed how fasting can make the global community of Muslims feel like one people, one Ummah, which can be a challenging perception.

“Each year Ramadan comes around, the timing seems prescient. Inflation in this country will mean that many families in the UK, and in Oxford, will have to choose between heating their homes and having enough to eat. We hope that you can all take away from this the spirit of giving in Ramadan, which is to approach those less fortunate than ourselves with thoughtful kindness and to give charity not as a virtue but as an obligation. We turn our attention also to the Muslims around the world that are experiencing hardship this Ramadan.”

The event took place on the 27th night of fasting, an important spiritual occasion for Muslims around the world, as many believe it to be the night when the Qur’an was revealed. Muslim attendees were grateful that the College community were there to mark the special occasion in an authentic and respectful way. We thank the generosity of the College which made the event possible, and the work of the organisers Andrew Gregory, Fatima Nadeem (Law, 2020) and Hamzah Sheikh. Catering was provided by Cheese & Chai and decor by iStyle Events – we are grateful to both businesses, which are Muslim-owned, that they spent their 27th night ensuring that the event was successful.

The iftar was free for attendees but, through voluntary donations, it raised over £250 for Oxford Food Hub. We hope the event encouraged attendees to continue to be generous, thoughtful, and mindful of our privilege as we leave Ramadan and enter the year ahead.

Published: 21 May 2022

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