This year, Al-Mahdi Institute collaborated with Near Neighbours to host the Big Iftar, bringing together guests from different backgrounds to an evening of inspirational talks, culminating with a meal for the breaking of the fast.
As Ramadhan is a month of sharing, giving charity and the opportunity to bring people together, the theme of the evening was “Uplifting the Local Community”. Representatives from local Birmingham organisations were invited to address the attendees about the amazing work that they do, ranging from tackling poverty, creating an understanding between people of different faiths, breaking the social stigma and starting conversations about mental health.
The evening commenced with the recitation of the holy Quran, which exhorts people to “hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided.”
Following this, short talks began by Rabiyah Latif, the local co-ordinator at Near Neighbours, who spoke about how they bring people together in communities that are religiously and ethnically diverse so that they can build relationships of trust and collaborate together on initiatives.
Salima Merali, a volunteer from Who is Hussain, a global social justice movement, then gave a touching and entertaining speech on the weekly homeless food drive run by the charity.
Next was a talk by Rev. David Tomlinson, Chair of Thrive Together Birmingham, about how the organisation aims to support and grow the movement of individuals, churches, and organisations who, motivated by their faith, are committed to addressing issues of poverty and to playing their part in helping their neighbourhoods to flourish.
The final talk was by Sabika Rezavi from Birmingham Mind Associates Group about how vital it is to raise awareness about mental health stigma and discrimination.
The evening ended with an inspiring speech from AMI Director, Shaykh Arif Abdul-Hussain on the importance of participating in the local community.
Following the program each of the organisations had stalls with information about their work, which gave everyone the opportunity to find out more.