Police and firefighters fast for a day as part of UK Muslim Youth initiative at Islamabad in Tilford

More than 140 police and firefighters from Surrey Police, Sussex Police, Hampshire Police, and Surrey Fire and Rescue have fasted for a day to celebrate Ramadan. The Fasting Collective initiative, run by Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association UK (AMYA UK) on March 21, saw newcomers and returning participants engaging in the Islamic practice of fasting. Some chose to extend their fast beyond a single day this year.

Participants began their fast at approximately 4.30am with a nourishing breakfast and a virtual call where they received detailed briefings on fasting etiquettes and guidelines. Farhan Hayat, diversity and inclusion deputy lead for Surrey Police, started the initiative. He said: “In 2021 we were in the middle of the lockdown. For me working in diverse inclusion, it was really important that I talk to my colleagues about what Islam is and what Ramadan means.

“I wanted it to be something that they can experience and understand authentically what it means to fast so I challenged a few people and they said they would absolutely love to take part. “In those days we didn’t have any events due to lockdown so we made food parcels for all those people taking part and delivered the Iftar meal to them.” The day culminated in a gathering of more than 100 police and rescue workers at the Mubarak Mosque in Tilford, near Farnham, at 4.30pm.

The participants were treated to a guided tour of the mosque, providing them with insights into Islamic traditions and practices. Throughout the event, several speakers shared their personal fasting experiences, fostering a sense of understanding and unity among attendees. Michael Knight, a police sergeant covering Waverley borough, said: “This year, I am going to fast for the entire month. Day 10 now, I have only fasted for a day last year so it has been a completely different experience. “This time round I am feeling the tiredness and those early morning alarms. But I am trying to be as prepared as I can and I am getting used to it.

“I keep myself busy whether that be work, chores at home, looking after the kids, or dogs just trying to crack on through really. I am trying to be as prepared as I can so I am set for the day and ready to enjoy the break of the fast when it comes around.” Chris Shed from Surrey Police added: “The Imam this morning in the virtual call pointed out that during the day I will have extra time as I won’t be making coffees and teas during the day. There have been moments in the day when instead of trying to make some lunch I have been out for a walk. It has been a great day for thinking and reflecting.” The gathering concluded with a meal to end the fast, providing participants with an opportunity to contemplate their shared journey and forge enduring bonds.