Sheffield communities come together at Hillsborough Stadium for big Ramadan celebration

Sheffield Wednesday FC has joined forces with Sheffield City Council to host a first-ever Ramadan celebration event.
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The community iftar dinner held at the 1867 Lounge at Hillsborough Stadium was attended by more than 300 people. Iftar is the meal when Muslims break their daily fast during their holy month of Ramadan.

The event was organised in collaboration with the city council’s Central Local Area Committee (LAC). It was funded by Central LAC councillors who are elected for the wards of Broomhill and Sharrow Vale, City, Hillsborough and Walkley.

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The celebration brought together people from many backgrounds to come together to break the fast, share delicious food and engage in conversations. The free event aimed to promote inter-social and inter-cultural understanding among the communities of Sheffield.

Guests at a community iftar dinner enjoying a tour of Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough Stadium. Picture supplied by Adeel ZamanGuests at a community iftar dinner enjoying a tour of Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough Stadium. Picture supplied by Adeel Zaman
Guests at a community iftar dinner enjoying a tour of Sheffield Wednesday's Hillsborough Stadium. Picture supplied by Adeel Zaman

Coun Brian Holmshaw, chair of the Central LAC, told guests: “This iftar is a gathering of Sheffield’s diverse communities and reaffirms our status as the first City of Sanctuary in the UK. Thank you to Sheffield Wednesday’s Community Programme for supporting and hosting this event at the stadium.”

The evening commenced with queues of guests waiting to be taken for a tour of the football stadium and take pitch-side photos.

Unity

Adeel Zaman, community services manager at the council and event organiser, opened the formal proceedings by saying: “Today is about unity, it’s about friendship and sitting down with people to learn from one another.” Adeel thanked Ben Winter, deputy head of the football club’s Community Programme, for collaborating to put on the event.

A community iftar dinner orgamised at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield brought together a diverse range of guests from city communities to celebrate Ramadan. Collage supplied by Adeel ZamanA community iftar dinner orgamised at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield brought together a diverse range of guests from city communities to celebrate Ramadan. Collage supplied by Adeel Zaman
A community iftar dinner orgamised at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield brought together a diverse range of guests from city communities to celebrate Ramadan. Collage supplied by Adeel Zaman
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Guest speakers included Bishop Sophie Jelley, acting Bishop of Sheffield, Patsy Cunningham of Sheffield Reform Jewish Congregation and Ustadha Ameena Blake, Muslim chaplain at the University of Sheffield. The Dean of Sheffield, Rev Canon Abigail Thompson, also attended.

Bishop Sophie spoke about friendship and peace across the world and said she was honoured to be invited. Patsy delivered a moving speech on suffering and how we must love one another and be kind.

Ustadha Blake shared that “Ramadan is about charity and bringing communities together. It’s not just about hunger, it’s about caring and showing affection to one another”.

Dean of Sheffield Rev Canon Abigail Thompson, Patsy Cunnigham, Ustadha Ameena Blake, Bishop Sophie Jelley and Coun Zahira Naz at a community iftar dinner at Hillsborough Stadium. Picture supplied by Adeel ZamanDean of Sheffield Rev Canon Abigail Thompson, Patsy Cunnigham, Ustadha Ameena Blake, Bishop Sophie Jelley and Coun Zahira Naz at a community iftar dinner at Hillsborough Stadium. Picture supplied by Adeel Zaman
Dean of Sheffield Rev Canon Abigail Thompson, Patsy Cunnigham, Ustadha Ameena Blake, Bishop Sophie Jelley and Coun Zahira Naz at a community iftar dinner at Hillsborough Stadium. Picture supplied by Adeel Zaman

Deputy council leader Coun Fran Belbin said in the closing remarks how great it was to see so many people from different backgrounds together.

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Hafiz Adil Malik recited verses of the Holy Quran. The guests learnt that Adil had memorised the entire Quran by the age of 16. This was followed by the adhan (call to prayer).

Gifts

After the Muslims present had performed their prayers, all guests enjoyed a three-course meal.

Members of Sheffield Council and South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard with community iftar event organiser Adeel Zaman. Picture supplied by Adeel ZamanMembers of Sheffield Council and South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard with community iftar event organiser Adeel Zaman. Picture supplied by Adeel Zaman
Members of Sheffield Council and South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard with community iftar event organiser Adeel Zaman. Picture supplied by Adeel Zaman

The event concluded with children receiving gifts of Ramadan advent calendars from the LAC team and activity books donated by Sheffield Wednesday.

Special guests included South Yorkshire Mayor Oliver Coppard, Liz Ballard, chief executive of Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, and Louisa Harrison-Walker, chief executive of the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, alongside representatives of community groups across the city.

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Coun Zahira Naz, who helped with the organisation, said: “Sheffield’s diversity is our greatest strength, there is no place for hatred or intimidation in our city. We stand together and we bring people together.

“We stand united against islamophobia and anti-semitism. At a time when we are dealing with rising hate crimes and those who seek to divide us, this community iftar brought us all together to share love and unity.”