Officers and staff from the Ministry of Defence Police (MDP) joined colleagues from Sussex Police, Surrey Police, Surrey Council, and Surrey Fire & Rescue Service for this year’s #FastingCollective, hosted by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association.
On 18 April 2023, MDP officers and staff members of the MDP REACH Network, for the first time took part in #FastingCollective and fasted for a day, to support Muslims observing Ramadan.
#FastingCollective was started by Surrey and Sussex Police in 2020, when police officers joined the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, based at the Mubarak Mosque in Tilford, in marking the Holy month of Ramadan by participating in a day-long fast and celebrating Iftar, the breaking of fast, at sunset.
The aim of #FastingCollective is to build relations between the Muslim community and the police, as well as help non-Muslim officers understand what their Muslim colleagues experience during Ramadan.
For Muslims across the world, Ramadan is the most important and holiest month of the year. Ramadan lasts for 30 days, and is marked by a period of fasting, considered one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Ramadan is sacred for Muslims because it was the month in which the first revelation of the Holy Qur’an was revealed to Prophet Muhammad.
During Ramadan, Muslims observe a strict daily fast from dawn until sunset. They are not allowed to eat or drink, not even water, during daylight hours.
The #FastingCollective day began at sunrise (04:10 Suhoor) and ended with a group Iftar at the Mubarak Mosque. For those who were unable to attend the Mosque, food parcels were supplied by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Youth Association to enjoy after sunset.
During the day the MDP REACH Network hosted an online event for MDP officers and staff where Sergeant Khuram Rahat shared his experiences of Ramadan.
Sergeant Rahat said:
‘’I was humbled by my MDP colleagues fasting with me for the day. As a Muslim officer, the MDP have provided me with support during Ramadan including adjusting my duties. The MDP have been keen to engage with me to learn more about Ramadan and how they can better support other officers who are fasting. I would like to thank everyone who took part in the day-long fast to support me and their colleagues.’’
Chief Inspector Kerrie McGlinchey, Chair of the MDP REACH Network, took part in the day-long fast and attended the Mubarak Mosque in the evening to celebrate Iftar.
Chief Inspector McGlinchey said:
“The MDP provides support to all Muslim officers during Ramadan, but as a non-Muslim officer it can be difficult to understand the experiences of our colleagues, as you never really know how it feels to fast. So #FastingCollective is a great opportunity to learn more about Ramadan and fasting, as well as engage with our Muslim colleagues.
As someone who nearly always has an emergency bottle of water to hand, I was slightly daunted by the thought of taking part, but I’m really glad I did it. Having survived the day without any food or drink, it made me reflect on how I do over-indulge normally with regular coffee and snacks, which I don’t really need! There are so many people affected by the current cost of living crisis, making difficult decisions regarding where they spend their money, so it definitely made me reflect on the fortunate position I am in.
Embracing the rules of fasting involves not just abstaining from food and water, but also maintaining integrity, compassion and respect, which definitely helped me keep calm and positive throughout the day.
Surprisingly the hunger wasn’t really a problem, however the lack of water did cause me to have a headache during the day and my concentration levels dipped in the afternoon. By 6pm I was on the countdown to Iftar!
It was a great privilege to be invited to celebrate Iftar at the Mubarak Mosque and be able to show our support for the Muslim community. The Imam led a prayer, and we all broke fast together — it was amazing and the food was delicious!
On behalf of my MDP colleagues, I would like to thank the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association for welcoming us to their beautiful Mosque, and for their kindness and generosity.”
MDP Race Champion, Assistant Chief Constable Justin Bibby, also observed the day-long fast by taking part in #FastingCollective.
Assistant Chief Constable Bibby said:
“As a senior officer in the MDP, it is vital I have a real understanding of the challenges faced by my colleagues who fast during Ramadan — the role of a police officer can be physically demanding, particularly for those working shifts, and in armed roles.
I was on a course at the College of Policing during my fast, and it wasn’t long into the day when thirst, headaches and brain fog started to manifest — this gave me a valuable insight into the experiences of Muslim colleagues. I went for a walk whilst everyone else took lunch and found myself reflecting on many things other than food!
In the MDP, we are committed to being inclusive and supportive of our officers and staff as well as the communities we serve, learning about and valuing everyone’s differences.
#FastingCollective has given us the opportunity to learn more about Ramadan, and how to support our Muslim colleagues and communities, and I am very grateful the MDP was given the chance to be involved.”
Support is available for all officers and staff in the MDP observing religious or spiritual festivals and events. More information and contact details for the REACH Network are available on the MDP Diversity and Inclusion Intranet page.