Local Muslims and non-Muslims from the Greater Manchester area gathered at Contact Theatre on Friday night for food, talks, prayer and music as part of the #ShareRamadan initiative.
The Multifaith Iftaar event, which was attended by around 100 people from both religious and non-religious backgrounds, was described by organiser Sam Malik as an attempt "to bring people together in solidarity, and to strengthen unity and relationships amongst communities", particularly in the wake of the recent tragedies in Manchester and London and the backlash against local Muslim communities.
The evening started with passionate speeches, including one by Dr Siema Iqbal, a local GP, whose trauma surgeon husband had treated victims of the Manchester Arena attack but whose children were scared to go to school by bus the following day due to a fear of Islamophobic attacks.
Andy Hall, a mentoring advisor and Christian from Oldham, fasted in support prior to the event and explained how this had been a difficult but important experience, which had given him time to reflect.
At approximately 9:40pm, the whole gathering listened to the Maghrib call to prayer, before eating the wide variety of foods donated by local businesses and volunteers. The rest of the evening consisted of talking, laughing and singing, including a wonderful rendition of Ariana Grande's One Last Time which was performed by Livia Luckson, who is just 12 years old and a member of the Syro Malabar Catholic Church.
Discussions included the recent tragedies, but also how to move on from them as a community. The words of the late MP Jo Cox, that 'We are far more united and have far more in common than that which divides us', were invoked more than once. On the anniversary of her death it felt important to remember this and honour the work she did.
Following the event, Malik, who is a producer for Contact, said "the concept of breaking bread together starts with only one invitation, but the love which is created as a result of it can last a lifetime...I hope we can continue in our journey of life through this level of friendship and unity, and celebrate the great diversity we have among us."
The Share Ramadan initiative, which was launched by Muslims in Oldham in 2014, has become a global project.
Find out more at www.shareramadan.com
What is Iftaar? Iftaar is the name of the meal which Muslims have at the evening call to prayer during the period of Ramadan. It begins at sunset, and is generally the only time when Muslims are permitted to eat or during the month of Ramadan.
Did you know? Although people in special circumstances, such as pregnant women, are permitted to eat during daylight hours during Ramadan, elite sports stars such as Mo Farah, cricketer Moeen Ali, Amir Khan and rower Moe Sbihi still train, even whilst fasting.
To view Livia Luckson's performance of One Last Time – click here
Words and photos by Holly Ann Wood