Hundreds of people gathered on the steps of the Royal Albert Hall for ‘Open Iftar 2022’ on Wednesday night, with organisers hoping it would be one of the largest iftars the UK had seen.
Around 500 worshippers broke their Ramadan fast with the famous concert venue in central London as a backdrop after it was transformed into a spectacular dining space.
Solicitor Siddiq Fazaluddin said functions such as this were a good way to show a different side of Islam.
“I think I just like the atmosphere, it’s a really nice feeling and I think it’s a good way to promote Islam as well, getting stuff out there in the public. Islam gets a lot of negative press, so it’s nice to get something positive out there to show what we believe in, we believe in looking after each other, good sense of camaraderie and making a positive contribution to society”, he said.
The free event, which was open to members of all communities across Britain, was put together the by Ramadan Tent Project, a foundation dedicated developing the knowledge and understanding of Ramadan.
Organisers say the meal, which was among their first in-person events since the coronavirus outbreak, was a major success.
Omar Salha, founder and chief executive of the Ramadan Tent Project, said: “It’s electrifying, it’s great to see so many people coming together, especially after two years of virtual events, to finally come together in person, to have these physical events, to meet people face to face, have the exchange, the warmth, the compassion from different members of different communities, it’s just amazing.”
Started by students at London’s SOAS University as a place for young people to break their fast during Ramadan, in the last eleven years, the organisation has reached more than 350,000 people across the UK.
For some, like Roxanna Wahab, the most important thing about the event was being able to make connections.
“It’s connection to God, connection to Muslims, connection to people around me, it’s just being around people. And I’m enjoying this, I’m enjoying it basically, and that’s why I’m here today, to interact with people.”
Open Iftar 2022 has already held other Ramadan events in the UK this year, including a gathering for hundreds of people at Queens Park Rangers' football stadium in west London and another at Hay's Galleria on the banks of the Thames.
Inaugurated in 1871, the Royal Albert Hall has hosted the biggest names in classical, pop and rock music, but was forced to close its doors for over nine months due to the coronavirus pandemic, its longest closure since the outbreak of the Second World War.