Around 9% of Wandsworth is Muslim and this year the borough held its first community Iftar
Muslims across the Borough have been celebrating EID, the end of the sacred and very special month of Ramadan.
It marks the end of a period of spiritual reflection, prayer and fasting, one of the 5 pillars of Islam, falling in the 9th month of the Islamic calendar each year. The end of Ramadan is called Eid ul Fitr, and is often marked with a large celebration.
One of the acts of devotion during Ramadan is that no food or water must be taken between sunrise (suhoor) and sunset (iftar). The period of fasting stretches out by a few minutes each day over the weeks as the days lengthen.
The act of breaking the fast each evening at sunset is also commonly known as Iftar, and a number of welcoming community Iftars have taken place across Wandsworth, including one at the Civic Suite of the Town Hall on 14th May hosted by Wandsworth Council.
Performing Iftar is an act which brings blessings for Muslims, and to share Iftar with others is a particularly blessed act.
Roehampton held its first Iftar for the public on Saturday 1st June, with delicious food prepared by families from the area. The Dara Focus Club decorated and scented with incense sticks. The event was put on free to all local residents by the Roehampton Islamic Cultural Centre, and was attended by Muslims and members of the wider community from across Putney, Wandsworth and Richmond.
Councillor Claire Gilbert, and members of the Metropolitan Police force’s Community Engagement also attended. Inspector Abs Haque, one of the guests of honour, spoke about the importance of inclusion in crime prevention, and noted the fear in parts of the Muslim community in London following the horrifying attacks in New Zealand and Sri Lanka.
Councillor Gilbert knows the Roehampton Islamic community well, and told this website she has a particular soft spot for the 80 children who attend the Islamic Cultural Centre Saturday school, where she gave out prizes recently to the children for their excellent studies, good behaviour and beautiful “akhlaq” (meaning virtue, morality and manners in Islamic theology and philosophy).
At the Iftar, members of the community offered henna art and Brother Shamsi, one of the leaders within the local Muslim community, received questions from attendees about the Qur’an and Ramadan.
Councillor Gilbert spoke at the event to thank the ICC and all the individuals and families who had contributed to make the event so welcoming and such a success. She also praised the contribution of many of those present for their contribution to the wider community in Roehampton and across the Borough, through volunteering and working in the community, particularly in nursing, teaching and social care. Ms Gilbert particularly referred to the wonderful example set for the children at the Saturday school by Jamal Hassan, one of the teachers and a powerful spokesperson for the community who has campaigned on the BBC recently about the fear of violence and knife crime among parents in the Somali community.
On 15th May several Imaams and representatives of the Roehampton Cultural Centre gave the Leader of the Council, Ravi Govindia, an open letter asking for space in Roehampton to use as a Mosque and community centre. In Roehampton alone there are over 2,500 Muslims aged over 18, and over 2000 Muslims studying at the University of Roehampton. Currently these families and individuals wishing to go to a Mosque have to travel to Fulham, Tooting and further afield, putting a large strain financially and mentally on families, particularly during Ramadan.
The letter has been supported by Fleur Anderson and Councillor Gilbert, and it is hoped that the Council will respond with a proposal for the community very soon. Fleur Anderson said: “It was wonderful to be part of the first Roehampton Iftar. Muslims in Roehampton have gone for too long without a place of worship. I support their campaign to have this by next Ramadan. There are unused community buildings in Roehampton which could be brought back into use for worship and for the whole community.”
The Roehampton Islamic Cultural Centre wishing everyone EID Kareem and blessings upon each family in the Borough!
June 5, 2019