In 2012 when London hosted the Olympic Games, the whole world came to our country. It was a moment of national pride, high level sport, a positive showcase of culture and diversity. Some of the Games took part in Ramadan so Muslim communities in the UK came together to host Iftars for Muslim sports people from around the world and their families to attend, also inviting others from all backgrounds to share in the experience.
It was well received and positive and so a number of community leaders with some support from Government in those early days (special thanks go to
Baroness Sayeda Warsi) and businesses, got together and created a new and exciting initiative. The Big Iftar was born. Since then it has been led and co-ordinated by Julie Siddiqi and Mustafa Field with partnerships and collaborations spanning across the whole of the UK.
The ‘BIG’ in ‘The Big Iftar’ was inspired by The Big Lunch, successfully run by
Eden Communities. The idea isn’t that every Iftar has to be ‘big’ but that all of our efforts add up to something bigger than any of us individually can do.
Our initial intention was to encourage British Muslims to open up Ramadan more. It is a time of feeding people, sharing the blessings of hospitality, connecting hearts together. At that time in 2013, hard to believe now, but this was not really happening. Muslims are always very generous in Ramadan, sharing food and donating huge amounts of money to charity. But it tended to just be more done among Muslims themselves.
What has happened over the coming years has been incredible.
Building on already trusted friendships and relationships, people of other faiths and diverse communities started exploring the idea of hosting Iftars.
In 2014 two momentous Iftars happened, one at Lambeth Palace, home of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who hosted the first ever Iftar event there with Muslim community members alongside friends of other faiths. The other was by
Alyth Synagogue in London
and it went down so well and was so well received that they made it an annual event in the Synagogue calendar. In 2022, after only being able to do online events because of the Pandemic, Alyth opened their physical doors again and we were joined by well known TV actress Tracy-Ann Oberman and other special guests. We used the occasion to launch
Thank You Dayamong faith communities.
It is truly humbling to see how much The Big Iftar has grown since 2013.Now it is a common sight to see Muslims and others coming together during Ramadan to break bread together. People have set up new projects and organisations to really share in the experience of Ramadan which is amazing to see and we know that the roots of all of that started from The Big Iftar, back in 2013.
Humble beginnings combined with sincerity and hard work from everyone involved have seen this project grow into one we are proud to continue and look forward to it going to new places and joining together new people from all backgrounds, using the blessed time of Ramadan to build long and lasting friendships and connections across all parts of the UK.
If you want to host an Iftar, attend or find out more, please do contact us
Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection, self-improvement, and heightened devotion, but it is also a powerful catalyst for unity and community building. The act of fasting during Ramadan creates a sense of solidarity, promotingRamadan is a time of spiritual reflection, self-improvement, and heightened devotion, but it is also a powerful catalyst for unity and community building. The act of fasting during Ramadan creates a sense of solidarity, promoting empathy, compassion, and understanding among people of all faiths and backgrounds.