Fairfield’s First Community Iftar a big success

Fairfield High School (FHS) held its first Community Iftar with great flair and success, as multi-faith speakers shared their experiences of fasting in their religion. The Iftar, postponed since before Covid, saw Fairfield students, their families and guests come together to create a truly magical event, including dates/water and a delicious meal at the breaking time of fast, 7.39pm.

Fairfield students getting ready to officially welcome guests

The influential speakers, who represented the Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Sikh and Humanist faiths, each gave a warm and passionate address.

Sheikh Afdal Feroz, the Muslim speaker explained how fasting (largely a spiritual concept) helped individuals appreciate what they have been blessed with and how important this was in the Islamic calendar for encouraging empathy and understanding of other peoples’ needs. He also gave a fascinating insight into how fasting affected specific areas of the body, such as the eyes, tongue, ears and inner self.

Andy Padget, spoke about Lent, the important religious observance and significant fasting in Christian faith. Whilst Lent can take different forms, traditionally people would give up butter and eggs, so no coincidence that Shrove Tuesday is the traditional feast day before this observance begins.

It was explained by Valerie Rassaell Emmott, the Jewish Speaker, that in so many ways Judaism is linked with the Islamic faith.

The multi-faith speakers/special guests, plus Amanda Bridgewater Principal (bottom row third from right) and Anilla Khan (bottom row far right)

With fasting for three major and three minor times a year, Yom Kippur is the holiest day in this faith and marks a time for atonement through fasting and prayer.

In Hinduism, Tom Aditya shared that, whilst there are a group of Hindus who don’t believe in fasting, many rigidly fast as an act of sacrifice believing it purifies the mind, controls passion/the senses and checks emotions.

Javinder Singh, the Sikh speaker again likened their religion to Islam, with an underlying deep routed understanding and love demonstrated towards others. Whilst in Sikhism people don’t fast as such, the focus is on sharing food and those who don’t fast out of choice, rather lack of food or money.

The Humanist speaker, Chrissie Hackett, talked about how Humanism wasn’t a religion, rather a philosophy. You only have one life during which you should strive to live well and happy. Whilst people don’t necessary fast, they may choose to as part of the focus on looking after their bodies and making their own food choices.

Finally, Mohamed Arif, the multi-faith forum speaker shared the importance of helping one another and reaching out to those in need; recently demonstrated by the journey many from the Forum made to Turkey/Syria to help with post-earthquake aid.

Anilla Khan, organiser of this event and Assistant Director of Science at FHS comments: “I am so proud that after years of hard work that our vision has become a beautiful reality. We would like to thank the many individuals and companies for their collaborative efforts, in particular Sweet Mart, Pak Butchers, Brunel Associates and Tescos for their generous food and monetary donations. I can say with confidence that this will be a firm date in the Fairfield diary, further demonstrating the school’s commitment to its community and inclusivity.”

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