Bristol scholar wants Iftar Day on international calendar

By Osob Elmi
BBC News

  • Published
The Rajab Family, LondonImage source, Worldiftarday
Image caption,
The Rajab family, celebrate breaking their daily fast at sunset in London

An Islamic scholar wants to create a national day of celebration to raise global awareness about fasting during Ramadan.

Afdal Feroz, 44, from Bristol, says he wants fellow Muslims across the world to invite their non-Muslim neighbours to fast with them on 'World Iftar Day'.

In return Muslims would cook for them and they would gather at sunset to break their fast together.

Hundreds have supported his #worldiftarday idea on social media.

Iftar is one of the spiritual observances of Ramadan and is done as a family or community after sunset daily.

This year Mr Feroz chose Monday, 18 May, but he said the day it fell on would change each year based on the Islamic civil calendar.

The date was chosen because it falls during the holy period of Ramadan.

Image source, Worldiftarday
Image caption,
Rafiq Adam celebrates his evening meal in Bristol

Supporters of Mr Feroz have sent photos and videos of them taking Iftar together.

They are being used as proof to present to the UN to secure a date for an international celebration.

Dr Asim Yusuf, chair of The British Board of Scholars and Imams, said: "We have experts, scholars and Imams from diverse Muslim backgrounds.

"The objective behind World Iftar Day is to bring peace and unity not just amongst Muslims but all of humanity.

"Iftar is a spiritual time for Muslims all over the world.

"We have been fully supporting this endeavour and hope it will grow even further in the coming years."

Image source, Worldiftarday
Image caption,
Siblings Zakariyah and Rayya Maryam Ismail from Cheltenham sit down to dinner

Mr Feroz said he had been planning to campaign for a globally recognised day for seven years and finally had the chance to pursue it during lockdown.

He said he wanted to find a way to "bring people from all walks of life together under the banner of unity and peace."

"Ramadan and Iftar in particular is a time for charity by sharing our food with others," he said.

"It's a time for prayer, unity, love and gratefulness for the blessings that we have."

'Time of togetherness'

During his time abroad in the US and the Middle East, he was inspired by communal Iftars he saw.

Image source, Worldiftarday
Image caption,
Gary Summerhill celebrates with his wife and two sons in Glasgow

The hashtag has also been used by Islamic figures. including Zain Bikha, a South African singer-songwriter who performs Islamic songs.

Mr Feroz said: "It is also an opportunity to get to know one another, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, neighbour or distant.

"It is truly a time of togetherness by breaking bread with our near and dear."

Many mosques around the world engage in communal Iftars every day during the month of Ramadan, with Muslims welcoming and engaging people from various religions.

Mr Feroz said he was awaiting sign-off on the date from the UN.