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Established to develop the cultural and social ties between the Muslim and Jewish communities of Greater Manchester

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Forum's iftar brings together people of many faiths and none

17 March 2024

An iftar is the meal at the end of a day fasting during Ramadan. Community iftars open to people of all faiths and none have become a very positive feature of our diverse society.

We have held an iftar every year since 2013, except when the coronavirus pandemic made that impossible. This year our iftar was in Salford Civic Centre on Sunday 17 March, with 45 people attending, including Muslims, Jews, Christians, and people of no faith.

Our Co-Chair Cllr Heather Fletcher was Master of Ceremonies.

Our Co-Founder, Afzal Khan CBE, MP for Manchester Gorton, welcomed the guests. He noted that nearly 19 years had gone by since he and the late Henry Guterman MBE founded the Forum, during which it had held 147 events.

The Lord Lieutenant of Greater Manchester Diane Hawkins explained her role as the King’s Representative and reminded the guests of King Charles’s longstanding wish to be the defender of faiths, not just of one faith. She shared how much she had been struck by the statement that we issued on 11 October about not letting the conflict in Gaza harm community relations in Greater Manchester.

The Very Revd Rogers Govender MBE, Dean of Manchester, spoke about fasting in Christianity, and his experiences of growing up in the diverse society of South Africa.

Graham Gordon who is the newest member of our Executive Committee spoke about fasting in Judaism. He also shared his family’s South African connections – his late uncle, Rabbi Cyril Harris, was Chief Rabbi of South Africa and a friend of Nelson Mandela.

Rizwan lqbal, CEO of Salaam Festival, who was attending one of our events for the first time, explained fasting in Islam. He reminded the guests that the revelation of the Quran had commenced during the month of Ramadan, and then he read out the first verses to be revealed.

Those first verses to be revealed now form Quran surah 96 verses 1-5, since the Quran is not arranged in the order of revelation. Rizwan did not specify the translation he had used, so we have reproduced them below from “The Qur’an – A Verse Translation” by M.A.R. Habib and Bruce B. Lawrence. This is the first translation into English verse.

Read—in the Name of your Lord
Who created—
created humankind from a clot
of blood.
Read—for your Lord
is Most Bountiful,
Who taught by the pen—
taught humankind
what it did not know.

Our Co-Chair Mohammed Amin gave the vote of thanks. As well as thanking the speakers and the caterers, he reminded the guests how by attending such events they are helping to build a cohesive community, one person at a time.

Once the fast had opened, the Muslims were led in prayer by our Executive Committee member Cllr Rabnawaz Akbar. Islam has no priesthood, and any adult Muslim male can lead prayers.

After the formalities were completed, all of the guests shared a delicious vegetarian curry, with kosher food being provided for those guests who had requested it.

Cllr Robin Garrido who is Christian said:

“I was delighted to attend the MJF event on which gave an opportunity of all faiths to come together in recognition that we are all the same regardless of the colour of our skin, ethnicity or religious beliefs.

If only we could replicate this countrywide, and indeed worldwide, we could all live in greater harmony together.”

Robert Kanter who is Jewish said:

“The Forum iftar was an enriching and enjoyable experience. The various talks emphasised the theme of fasting from different perspectives whilst also looking at commonalities and lessons which people from all faith backgrounds or none could draw inspiration and ideas from.

At this challenging time, with wider events in the Middle East, the event was a wonderful opportunity to reconnect with people on a human level and to carry forward positive commitments to strengthening our bonds in the region.”

Alderman Nilofar Siddiqi who is Muslim said:

“I thoroughly enjoyed the iftar. All the speeches were very good and I had interesting chats with three Jewish people I met.”

The group photo below shows from left to right:

  1. Mohammed Amin
  2. Rabnawaz Akbar
  3. Afzal Khan
  4. Rogers Govender
  5. Heather Fletcher
  6. Diane Hawkins
  7. Rizwan Iqbal
  8. Graham Gordon

Group photo of the speakers.

The photo below shows many of the guests as they listened to the speeches.

Photo of the audience during the speeches.



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The Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester
Established to develop the cultural and social ties between the Muslim and Jewish Communities of Greater Manchester

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