INTERFAITH Iftars with Muslim and other religious leaders will not be taking place this year owing to the spread of Covid-19.
For the past five years, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of London, and the Chief Rabbi have been among those who have joined Muslim community leaders in the ritual breaking of the Ramadan fast at sunset, in locations which have included St Paul’s Cathedral, Lambeth Palace, and St John’s Wood Synagogue (News, 8 June 2018).
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, announced in a video on Twitter that he would be holding the Iftar at his home on 23 April. The video also featured Muslim public figures, including the actor, Riz Ahmed, and the former co-chair of the Conservative Party, Baroness Warsi. They implored Muslims to hold Iftars from their homes to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Earlier this month, an NHS consultant, Dr Adnan Sharif, warned that Ramadan could lead to a spike in Covid-19 infections.
Some Muslim organisations have announced that they will be holding interfaith Iftar events online. They include the Ramadan Tent project, which usually holds an event called Open Iftar in Trafalgar Square, at which Muslims and non-Muslims are invited to talk and eat together.
The organisation wrote on its website: “This year we’re bringing the Open Iftar experience to your doorsteps! Sign up for #Myopeniftar pack, share your experiences and continue to keep the Ramadan spirit alive!”
Another group, Amya UK, is holding a “Big Virtual Iftar” online on 8 May, which, it says, is designed to help people to “learn about Ramadan and what it’s like to fast for almost 18 hours”. The group’s website says that “this event is primarily for our non-Muslim brothers and sisters but we also welcome all Muslims to join us and #FastAtHome during Ramadan”.
In a video posted on social media on Thursday, Archbishop Welby said: “This will be a Ramadan like no other in recent history. I think especially this Ramadan of those Muslims in the health service, in essential work, who will fast and yet carry on supporting us and serving us. A number in recent weeks have even given their lives. I thank God for their sacrifice, for their nobility, for their heroism.”
The Archbishop also wrote on Twitter: “It’s inspiring to see our Muslim Brothers and Sisters preparing to spend #Ramadanathome, as we all #StayHomeSaveLives in our communities and around the country.”