For the last two Ramadans, Muslims across the country have been celebrating the special breaking of their fast meals at home. Eating alone mutes the feelings of joy we feel by sharing meals with others. The desire to break bread and congregate around a meal with friends and strangers is an integral part of what makes us human.
It is therefore more important than ever for Muslims, those of other faiths and none to be invited to celebrate Ramadan together at iftars — the meal eaten to end the fast. This isn’t just because it’s Ramadan as we Muslims know it, but because we all need to rebuild — including our ability to see the best in each other and not let the difficulties of the last two years weigh us down. This is a time for forgiveness and healing.
Despite the rise in hate crime in recent years — with many of these crimes committed against minority faith communities — we have seen mosques, temples and synagogues join with churches to support the Covid recovery, from acting as vaccine hubs to providing essential mental wellbeing services.
It is therefore extremely fitting that the Tower of London, once feared by religious minorities as a place of imprisonment and torture, should host the first major in-person interfaith iftar since the pandemic. The iftar, the first held in the Tower’s more than 900-year history and during the Platinum Jubilee, will highlight some of the Queen’s greatest values of public service, faith in God and the protection of minority communities.
The importance of not rewriting our history and of educating our children with the positives and negatives of our shared histories will be emphasised by the faith leaders speaking tonight.
The negative history of the Tower will not be lost by Cardinal Vincent Nichols as he addresses the iftar at the place known for imprisoning and executing Catholics. This will contrast with the positive history of the Tower as a place of refuge for the Jewish community in the 12th and 13th centuries against anti-
Semitic mobs, which will be reflected on by the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis.
Only by understanding the highs and lows of our shared histories will we be able to build a more progressive and cohesive society. One that is symbolised at this historic iftar.