As Muslims across Manchester celebrated for Ramadan, one fire station manager joined in the religious ritual and fasted from sunrise to sunset.
Ben Levy, manager of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service’s (GMFRS) Stretford fire station, took part in the fast to develop a better understanding of Muslim culture.
He also attended a prayer session at the Faizan e Islam Mosque at Old Trafford last Tuesday – Pakistani Independence Day.
Ben is part of a team of five other Manchester emergency service personnel who chose to undertake the Islamic tradition of abstaining from all food and water during daylight hours.
“The idea came about after one of our partnership meetings,” said Ben. “GMFRS has a good relationship with our local mosques and we wanted to build on this to gain a better understanding of their culture.”
Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam – central tenets of the religion – and occurs annually during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. However, Ben and his team decided to join the Muslim community in their religious observances for the day.
After the fast was broken, Ben said: "Too many people in the world are born hungry, live their whole lives hungry, and unfortunately die hungry, never sure where their next meal will come from.
“I was very aware that any discomfort I felt was guaranteed to come to an end soon. This reflection is part of what Ramadan is all about.”
After the prayer service, the group celebrated the breaking of the fast with a single date and a sip of water, followed by a feast of curries, breads and vegetables. They also presented a gift of traditional Indian pastries, fruits and sweets to the mosque.
"It was also a good opportunity to spread the message about fire safety amongst the Muslim community in an informal way. I want to thank our friends at the mosque for making us so incredibly welcome for the evening,” he said.
He was joined by Community Safety Advisor for Trafford Sofina Duloth Joy, as well as Chief Inspector Bob Pell and Superintendent Jim Liggett from Greater Manchester Police's Trafford Division, Trafford Council's Safer Communities Team Manager Dave Boulger and Specialist Services Officer Aman Akram.