Two member institutions of Citizens:mk, Trubys Garden Tea Room and the Middle Eastern Cultural Group (MECG), teamed up to host a ‘Great Get Together Bring & Share Iftaar’ in Campbell Park Pavilion on Friday 16th June. See video.
Inspired by The Jo Cox Foundation, this event aimed to celebrate both the unity of the people of Milton Keynes and the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, with a programme of talks, nasheeds (Islamic songs) and Christian hymns. (Pictured reciting the Quran is Umar Mohiuddin from Bayt’ul Ilm Madrassa.)
More than 200 MK residents, including adults and children from all faiths and none, came together to share Iftaar, the breaking of the daily Muslim fast, in a spirit of solidarity.
Several non-Muslims, including the High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire, Peter Kara, had a go at fasting throughout the day too.
“Food fasting is something I do regularly as part of my physical wellbeing,” said Peter Kara. “But the experience of not drinking any water from sunrise to sunset required a mental discipline that made me realise why spiritual fasting is embraced by so many different cultures. By overcoming the desire to react to a basic instinct for food and water within us, we can also learn to develop the capacity to overcome other, more negative instincts, such as greed, envy, lust and hatred.”
Mark Lancaster MP and the Mayor and Mayoress also attended and spoke in celebration of MK unity.
Mark Lancaster said: “One year one from Jo Cox’s murder it is right that we come together and reflect what we can all do to ensure that as a community we focus on celebrating what unites us rather than that which divides. This event is a fine example of MK demonstrating just what a united community we are.”
Mayor David Hopkins later wrote: “It was a pleasure to attend. The atmosphere from the moment we arrived and the smiles on the faces of those attending confirmed what a warm and comforting evening had been generated.”
Kurshida Mirza of Trubys Garden Tea Room, an interfaith community cafe run by Muslim women, said: “The generosity of the people of Milton Keynes was amazing. Everyone was so keen to work with us, to make the Great Get Together Iftaar a success for Milton Keynes. The feeling of unity was very strong indeed.”
Ayser Aljawad, of MECG, said: “This was a tribute to Jo Cox but at the same time to MK’s spirit and the Communities unity, the ‘let’s do it’ approach which is also core to MECG. The diverse collection of passionate volunteers and generous participants shows that MK will not be divided. This was a truly wonderful event, which I hope will set a precedent for years to come.”
The event was supported by funding from MK Community Foundation and the Rotary Club, with private donations from several individuals.
The event formed part of MK’s celebration of its 50th birthday, with a special emphasis on celebrating MK’s unity, justice and welcome to outsiders.