SHAFAQNA – History was made when a centuries-old church in London not only opened its doors for Muslims to break their fast at the church but also organised a prayer session and Iftari for hundreds of Muslims and the church leaders fasted alongside Muslims to promote interfaith harmony.
St. James’s Church, Piccadilly, joined hands with the City Circle to invite more than 400 Muslims as well as followers of other faiths for a grand interfaith Iftar dinner and invited London’s new Mayor Sadiq Khan as the guest speaker.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who has been fasting and famously broke his fast on stage during the European Union referendum national debate on the BBC, said that it’s the duty of Muslims to reach out to non-Muslims and explain the real positive nature of Islam to dispel the wrong perceptions about Islam and Muslims. He told the audience that it was important for Muslims, Hindus, Jews, Sikhs, Christians and others to come together and beat poverty and inequality in London as all faiths stressed on the need of serving humanity and ending poverty and injustice in all forms.
Speaking to Geo News, Sadiq Khan said that it was a matter of pride for him that a London church had organised an interfaith Iftar dinner and invited him and others to break their fast in expression of harmony and solidarity and also to raise money for the homeless people who need the help of everyone.
Sadiq Khan said that he wished a speedy recovery to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif who was recovering here after his open heart surgery at London’s Harley Street Clinic.
Sadiq Khan said that London had the best health system and that’s the reason why people from all over the world come to London for treatment. He said that there was no rival to the National Health Service (NHS) anywhere in the world and countries such as America, Pakistan and others lagged behind in terms of provision of health services whereas the NHS excels. “Muslims, Jews, Hindus and others have come together to break their fasts and they are working together for good causes. We need to do more such projects.”
Sadiq Khan said it was unfortunate that Islam had a bad reputation because of the unacceptable acts of a tiny minority. He said, “We need to correct it. We can do this by working with all communities and showing them the real picture. We live in a globalised world and it means the working together of all religions and schools of thought. We need to promote brotherhood amongst each other.”
“I am the mayor for all Londoners. St. James’s Church has set a great example by hosting the Iftar dinner. Revd Lucy Winket fasted today to show solidarity, it’s a great example for all of us. In the UK, Muslims are a minority and such positive gestures are shown. Whether Muslims are majority or minority in a country, we all need to come together to build bridges,” he added.
The Mayor of London said that it’s a shame that London, called the greatest city of the world, has homeless people living in it. He said that inequality needed to be dealt with and ended by building affordable homes and introducing projects which produce jobs and prosperity for all.
Revd Lucy Winket told Geo News that the Iftar dinner aimed to bring Christian and Muslim communities together to celebrate Ramazan and shared “our common values”. She said fasting with Muslims had been a great experience for her and it just made her realise “the sacrifice that goes into fasting around 19 hours a day.”