Planned in barely 14 days and with the support of several community and religious-based organisations, Durban saw one of the biggest mass iftaars, the breaking of fast, programmes held at the Kingsmead Stadium on Sunday,
About 5000 people attended this event, which was the brain child of well-known businessman Nazir Malek, together with friends and colleagues.
Religious-based organisations, politicians, individuals and families attended the iftaar to jointly spread the message of faith, peace and harmony.
Among the dignitaries who graced the event were Bishop Mike Vorster, Bishop Rubin Phillip, Rabbi Gilad Fiedman, Hailey Fudu (Bahai), Ela Gandhi, Ven Jerald Vedan (KZN Buddhist Forum) and eThewkwini Deputy Mayor Fawzia Peer. Speaker after speaker noted the importance of peace in harmony and the message sent out by the mass iftaar.
Descending early on the pitch were volunteers bringing in the stage, chairs and mats while eThekwini Secure was tasked with the safety and security of the event. Behind the scenes were Malek and his team running through the programme and the final touches in preparation to feed an expected 5000-strong crowd.
Religious and community based organisations that attended included the World Assembly of Muslim Youth, As Salaam, South African Muslim Network, Verulam Islamic Institute, Tafta, Islamic Dawah Movement of South Africa, Verulam Day Care Centre, Ilm SA, Islamic Medical Association, Minara Chamber of Commerce and eThekwini Outreach among many more. Another organisation was the Refocus and Upliftment Organisation with its strong team of volunteers ever willing to lend a hand.
People from Inanda, uMlazi, Clare Estate, Verulam, Tongaat, Chatsworth, Phoenix, Wentworth and KwaMashu were specially bussed in. Malek said that the Durban leg of the mass iftaar was inspired by the international outings — this included New York, London, Istanbul, and BoKaap in South Africa. “There is an international cry for peace, unity and harmony and to achieve this we need to educate people of other faiths about the religion of Islam and that Islam advocates peace and love and not the terrorist ideology spread through the media. To achieve this we first need to build bridges. Hence, the mass iftaar,” he said.
The food and other logistics like the sound and stage, among other things, were from sponsors who obliged without hesitation. The atmosphere of the breaking of the fast had to be felt by everyone there as the sound of the adhaan (call to prayer) signalling the prescribed time reverberated through the humidity of the evening. Rows upon rows of mats (dastarkhan) were laid on the perfectly manicured field of the stadium. On it were plates with khajoor (dates), fruit and bottles of water. Savouries were served a short while before iftaar time, followed by biryani after the evening prayer.
The object of the mass iftaar to promote peace, unity, love and unity in diversity was achieved and differences were dispelled. “With the success achieved and the positive feedback, the iftaar would definitely change the negative mind of people considering all the good that was achieved,” added Malek.