On Tuesday, 18 April, colleagues from across Surrey Police, Sussex Police, Surrey County Council and Surrey Fire and Rescue took part in a Fasting Collective, to show support for Muslim colleagues and communities this Ramadhan. Organised by Surrey Police’s Inclusion team, the Fasting Collective was initiated to not only support our Muslim colleagues, but to also give everyone the opportunity to learn about Islam and why Ramadhan is observed by fasting each year. For 30 days, Muslims abstain from food and drink – including water – from sunrise to sunset, as a means of strengthening and reflecting on their faith.
This year’s Fasting Collective was brilliantly attended with 120 taking part in the fast and around 100 attending a special evening Iftar meal and event courtesy of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community at the Mubarak Mosque near Farnham. The Fasting Collective commenced in the early hours of the morning where colleagues from all organisations involved woke early to eat and drink in preparation for the long fasting day. Everyone joined a virtual call at 4:10am with Imam Mansoor Clarke where they learnt about the purpose of fasting and how to observe a fast successfully. Everyone then had last sips of water and started the fast together.
During the day, colleagues recorded both video and written accounts of how their fasting day was going and what they were learning from the experience. It was lovely to hear the stories and see the positivity and warmth colleagues had in keeping the fast despite feelings of thirst, hunger and tiredness. In the evening, colleagues attended the stunning Mubarak Mosque, including Surrey’s Chief Constable Tim de Meyer, Deputy PCC Ellie Vesey-Thompson, Sussex’s T/ACC Howard Hodges, Chief Fire Officer Dan Quin and President of the National Black Police Association Andrew George to name just a few.
Guests were met with incredible hospitality and love. Colleagues received tours of the Mosque and learnt of the incredible facilities such as the studios for the international TV station, Muslim Television Ahmadiyya. Colleagues had the opportunity to observe evening prayers led by the Caliph and worldwide leader of the community Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, and were treated to talented calligraphy writers, who created beautiful art pieces of names written in Arabic. During the evening event, guests listened to speakers and enjoyed talks from colleagues who observed the fasting day, providing reflections on how the experience had made them feel. Finally, at sunset when the fast was broken, the community treated everyone to an incredible three-course meal which was thoroughly enjoyed by all.
For those who couldn’t attend in person, special food parcels were supplied by the community for people to enjoy after sunset.Surrey Police’s Chief Constable Tim De Meyer reflected on the event, saying: “It has been such a privilege to take part in the Fasting Collective. It has been a real exercise of discipline and sacrifice, while realising what it means to have something in abundance all the time – it is important to think about how lucky we are. “Doing the fasting together as a collective with the Muslim community shows the importance of really understanding that the police, public and different communities can come together and better understand everyone’s point of view – we are stronger as a community if we are together. We want to be a Force that is here for everyone and a Force where everyone feels able to join us and to belong.”
Farhan Hayat, Deputy Inclusion Lead and Chair of Surrey Police Association of Culture and Ethnicity (SPACE) commented: “Over the last three years, we have seen the Fasting Collective grow from strength to strength with Sussex Police, Surrey Fire and Rescue and Surrey County Council getting involved in this inspiring day. We have been so incredibly humbled by the love, warmth and hospitality shown by the Ahmadiyya Muslim community, who have delivered this event for us and allowed our colleagues to learn more about Islam and the purpose of Ramadhan. “We are extremely proud and honoured to have formed such a strong and genuine relationship with our Muslim communities in Surrey. For our Force, it is so vitally important that we do all that we can to recognise the individual needs of people we serve and to engage effectively with all our communities.”
Hibat ul Mohsin Abid, Director of Outreach for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association said: “This is the third successful year for Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association (AMYA) UK to be working very closely with the Surrey Police in organising the Fasting Collective. This year, we are extremely pleased that over 120 people from Surrey Police, Sussex Police, Surrey Fire and Rescue and Surrey County Council took part in the Fasting Collective, and around 100 attended the Iftar in the beautiful Mubarak Mosque. “This year again, His Holiness, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, the current head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, permitted us to hold the Iftar at the Mubarak Mosque. The Fasting Collective continues to be a great source of inspiration for our youth, as it provides us with an opportunity to engage with the police and others, and, we are inspired by the experience and warmth shown by the participants.
“It has been an absolute pleasure to host Surrey Police, Sussex Police, Surrey Fire and Rescue and Surrey County Council members, and we sincerely hope that in the future we are able to continue with such initiatives and more.” Finally, Eid Mubarak to everyone celebrating and to all our Muslim colleagues and communities.