Increasing our Engagement with Community Iftars
Changing the Approach
Hosting iftars for our neighbors and community is a common activity that the Muslims hosts across the nation. This includes hosting an iftar for local elected officials or interfaith partners/neighbors or feeding the needy. My colleagues and I from MiNDS wanted to change how we approach this type of event.
Specifically we asked ourselves: how do we make our engagement around iftars more productive?
We brainstormed how we can combine the two efforts and translate the 'elite' setting into a more 'public' setting that anyone can participate or benefit from. This led to the idea of hosting an iftar where we invite leaders of the community to come and serve those in need in a manner that they are not normally served. Rather than leaders of the community coming to an iftar just to interact with Muslims and learn about Ramadan, they would come to also be connected to the surrounding community and serving them to make them feel 'human' or feel more 'dignified.' This means escorting them to their seat, bringing them water, bringing them their food, dessert, etc. Basically wait on them.
Those who live in shelters, or live in poverty, don't have the opportunity to go out to restaurants and be waited on. This is something that we don't even think twice about or realize how such an act can make someone feel human.
How it works:
- Reach out to well known chefs in the community to come and prepare a meal for the event. If you don't have access to that, just reach out to local restaurants who may be willing to donate their time and services or get the food catered;
- Invite leaders of the local community (i.e. elected officials, interfaith leaders, or even activists) to come with the expectation that they will be waiting on the attendees alongside the Muslims hosting the event;
- Reach out to local social service groups or shelters to invite their clients or tenants to come and enjoy; and
- Decorate the place to make the place to ensure the setting make the attendees feel like they are attending a special outing.
Just make sure to select a central location that makes it easy for those who are serving to attend. You can also have a short program to explain what Ramadan and an iftar is and have some of the leaders share a few words.
Check out this idea in action by clicking on the video below. Additionally, there is a great example of how others have taken this idea on in other communities.