The joy of Ramadan was opened up to people of all faiths in a special Iftar in Birmingham’s Cannon Hill Park.
More than 30 people – Christians, Buddhists, Humanists and Muslims – gathered to enjoy earth and the stars on Saturday 23 April 2022, in an event hosted by the Hazrat Sultan Bahu Trust, based in Ombersley Road, Balsall Heath.
An Iftar is the evening meal with which Muslims end their daily Ramadan fast at sunset. This Iftar had a special focus on nature and was designed to help deepen gratitude for the earth.
Children climbed trees and made bird feeders from recycled materials as the golden globe of the sun slipped down the horizon. Young and old stood in a circle and played a game of duck, duck, goose – which, amongst much hilarity, involved people in their 80s giving chase to children and sometimes even catching them.
Strangers and friends enjoyed the intense colours of the April evening as they waited to break their fast with a buffet and hot food gifted by the Al-Abbas Islamic Centre, on Clifton Road, Balsall Heath.
It was so simple – come as you are; bring food to share; whatever your faith, you are welcome. And it was all the more touching for it.
The event was part of Our Garden – Sacred Spaces of Balsall Heath. Our Garden is a Creative City Project generously funded by Birmingham City Council and programmed by the Birmingham 2022 Festival.
It’s a joint initiative between Christians and Muslims in Balsall Heath; from the United Church of St Paul’s, Mary Street, the Hazrat Sultan Bahu Trust and the Al-Abbas Islamic Centre. The faith organisations have been commissioned to create an artists’ map Balsall Heath, showing it as a place of wildlife rather than buildings and roads.
Jo Ind, producer for Our Garden, said: “There is something very profound about people from different backgrounds being in a park, in the dark, to listen to nature and to (what some call) God. As we become friends and connect to the earth, we will create a beautiful map of Balsall Heath, helping us to see our inner-city home as a garden that we tend together.”
Kamran Shezad concluded the Iftar on behalf of the Hazrat Sultan Bahu Trust with his own prayer.
Oh Lord, You are the Creator, the All-Powerful, the Sustainer of all life.
Oh Lord, we thank you for creating this earth in perfect measure and balance.
Oh Lord, inspire us to love and care for every part of Your Creation.
Allow us to encourage others to care for your Creation.
Allow us to take seriously the role You have given us to be Your steward on earth.
Oh Lord, forgive us for being careless with Your blessings that You have provided for our sustenance.
Oh Lord, allow us to implement the practices of Prophet Muhammad by caring for all species, respecting nature, valuing each resource and being grateful for the use of any of Your Creation for our needs.
Oh Lord, protect the people living with the effects of climate change and give them strength.
Give patience and strength to those facing rising temperatures, drought, water shortages, unpredictable weather, failed crops, flooding and land loss.
Oh Lord allow all people everywhere to recognise the importance of protecting and maintaining Your Creation.
Oh Lord change us and use us in ways you are pleased with
For the restoration of your world and the protection of all people.
And everyone replied: “Amin” (Well….some said “Amen” and that was OK too).