The Foreign and Commonwealth Office hosted a Big Iftar event, inviting faith and political leaders. The Foreign Secretary RT Hon Jeremy Hunt, and the Minister of State for the COmmonwealth and the UN, Lord Tariq Ahmad, co hosted the Iftar at the FCO celebrating diversity of faith; praying for peace. Imam Qari Asim, Chair of Mosques & Imams National Advisory Board, was invited to speak about Ramadan at the Big Iftar event at the Foreign Office.

Imam Qari Asim spoke about Ramadan Iftars were taking place around the country as Muslims were opening their doors to communities to share their spirit of generosity. Muslims are opening their doors to communities to share their spirit of generosity and to improve understanding between communities. Young Muslims are feeding the homeless and refugees while they are fasting.

“Initiatives such as the Big Iftar, Mosque Iftar are drawing in hundreds of people every evening to come together. These Iftars help demystify Islam and  give people an opportunity to make new friendships and experience the feeling of community and generosity that are abundantly displayed during Ramadan. Small conversations taken place during these social interactions go well beyond Ramadan”, said Imam Asim.

He mentioned that £100 million is raised by Muslims for charities during Ramadan, and how increasingly large parts of it was being spent in this country.

Qari Asim said this Ramadan there was also deep anxiety and fear amongst Muslims due to  the recent attacks on places of worship; innocent people have been targeted by extremists in places of worship. “Attacks on places of worship are not just happening in distant places but in our country.”

Accordingly, Mosques security needed to be improved and appropriate funding needed to be given.

Imam Qari Asim said: “We must guard against a weakening of the values that make us a tolerant and welcoming society.”

He welcomed the government’s announcement to seek a working definition of Islamophobia. It was good that the announcement mentioned that the effort to define Islamophobia   would build   on   the work   that  has   already   been   done,   and   any such efforts will   consult communities   and  others   so  there   is  broad   agreement  on   a  robust,   coherent  and   practical definition of Islamophobia.

In closing, Imam Asim prayed for peace and mentioned the role that the FCO could play in achieving peace in the world.