Eyes brimming with tears watched the open courtyard at the Royal Albert Hall fill with audiences from across the city and the UK, young and old, families and friends, and passers-by. The city stilled as the athaan (call to prayer) rang through South Kensington from the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Steps. On these same steps, hundreds gathered in prayer, on the 12th night of Ramadan.
Rewinding an hour or so, the empty courtyard was dotted with our dedicated volunteers in teal t-shirts as they set up outside the London landmark for the first time in Open Iftar history. Duct-taping down sheets of tarpaulin to overcome our daily battle against the wind, our volunteers set out over 500 cans of water and 600 pieces of dates for our guests to break fast before greeting well over 500 guests to the first Open Iftar at London’s Royal Albert Hall in its 150-year history.
“It’s the place of countless stories and memories from countless visitors”; the historic building is celebrating 150 years with “more history to make”, and last night history was made, stories were shared and memories were created – strangers were turned into friends.
On the steps of the iconic venue, musician and social activist Rahima Mahmut spoke about the plight of the Uyghur community. “Ramadan should be a time for peace, harmony and familial warmth, which can be a difficult month for my people whilst so many of us are in a state of mourning.” A reminder that as we put our focus and efforts on faith, worship and community in Ramadan, we have a responsibility of social action and service in the form of our du’aa, voices and generosity.
Mahmut’s talk was followed by the athaan; given live in the heart of London, it was almost impossible to not feel the heart soften and soak in the call to prayer, the call to worship, amidst the historic sights around us. Acoustics of the press team snapping photos, water cans being opened and date seeds being placed on to paper filled the silence between each line of the athaan. Row by row our audiences gathered at the mats laid out upon the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Steps for prayer.
Packs of Pride of Asia’s delectable biryani was served to guests, volunteers, press, and of course the hospitable Royal Albert Hall staff without whom this event could not have been possible.
The night ended with phone torches held high and “Open Iftar” ringing in front of Royal Albert Hall one last time before 500+ people gathered their things and made their way home, just in time for our volunteers to clear the space. If you walked by the Royal Albert Hall at midnight, you would be none the wiser to the scenes that filled the courtyard just hours prior, but we are quite certain you would have felt the warmth of community, sense of belonging, and the history that had been made on April 13th, 2022 as part of Ramadan Tent Project’s flagship Open Iftar 2022.
We will continue to make history for the remainder of Ramadan 2022 and you can be a part of it too. Keep an eye on our social media @openiftar, and our website to be of the first to know where we will be heading to next, and to grab your free ticket before they are gone.
We feed between 400-1,500 people on any one night. You can help us feed 10,000 people worldwide during this Holy Month by donating to our fundraiser.
This year, RTP has teamed up with faith-inspired charity Islamic Relief UK (IR UK) to feed vulnerable families across the world, with an aim to collectively alleviate world hunger. We have a target of £50,000, which is the equivalent of feeding 10,000 people this Ramadan. With every donation and giving level, we will split your donation between RTP and our Charity Partner IR UK. You will not only be feeding a fasting person & the public in the UK but also feeding a person in need for the whole month of Ramadan abroad with IR UK’s Food Packs Programme. Help us reach our £50,000 target by visiting www.launchgood.com/openiftar2022