Earlier this month, the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, together with other invited guests, joined the Ismaili Muslim community for the launch of the Big Iftar 2015 at the Ismaili Centre, London.
» The Big Iftar website
» Ramadan video message from Greg Clark, MP
» Big Iftar dinner held at West London Jamatkhana
“During Ramadan, British Muslim communities will once again demonstrate their generosity and openness through The Big Iftar – where people from all backgrounds and faiths will come together to break bread and make new friendships,” remarked the Secretary of State at the dinner gathering held on 11 June.
Iftar is the meal served at the end of a day of fasting during the month of Ramadan. The Big Iftar is a national initiative supported by the United Kingdom government that promotes neighbourliness, strengthening of community relations and sharing.
“The Big Iftar is about more than just having a meal together,” said Amin Mawji OBE, President of the Ismaili Council for the UK. “It is an expression of the pluralist society that we want for our country.”
Guests enjoyed a meal together and were treated to a performance by several members of the Ismaili Community Ensemble — an orchestra of more than 40 Ismaili musicians who collaborate closely with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The gathering included Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, who serves as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in both the Department for Transport and the Home Office, and Commander Mak Chishty, the Metropolitan Police Service Lead for Community Engagement, as well as leaders of other faith communities and civil society organisations.
Noting that in Britain “diversity is a fact of life,” President Mawji pondered: “do we really value this diversity?” He called for a pluralist society, one that values individual choices and mutual obligations — a society built on a cosmopolitan ethic.
“When we see people come together in this sort of way, it reminds us of the value of projects like this,” he said.
Lord Ahmad praised the Ismaili community for their expression of Muslim values and reflected on Ramadan being a month for contemplation, remembrance, prayer, and a time for communities to come together.
In addition to launching The Big Iftar this year, the Ismaili community hosted one of the initiative’s events in 2014 at West London Jamatkhana. The annual Big Iftar includes events held across the country, throughout the month of observance.
“Britain’s diverse faith communities make a huge contribution to our society,” said Secretary of State Greg Clark. “I’d urge everyone to find out how they can get involved to bring their own neighbourhoods closer together.”