Welcome back to My Ramadan Routine, the weekly series spotlighting the life of a Muslim person celebrating the holiest month in the Islamic calendar.
This week we’ve got none other than the mayor of London Sadiq Khan.
While handling his mayoral responsibilities, Khan is also observing all his fasts (you might even remember him breaking his fast on the stage during a EU referendum debate some years ago), meaning he often shares his iftar with the community.
Today, he tells us about a multi-faith iftar he went to at the Tower of London recently, which was the first time an iftar was held at the venue.
How do you begin your fasting day?
“During the month of Ramadan, I wake up early for suhoor – the meal before sunrise – which is the last time Muslims observing the holy month will eat or drink before sunset. It’s around 4.30am/5am! I am trying to be healthy this year so it’s a light meal of cereal and fruit.”
How do you break up your day when you’re fasting?
“As the Mayor of London, one of the best things about my job is that I get to spend a lot of my day meeting people across London’s communities. Despite a busy schedule, I make a special effort during Ramadan to pray, on time, five times a day.
“Where possible, two or three times a week after my work commitments, I try and fit in some exercise later on in the day, usually a run, close to the time where I open my fast.”
What are you having for Iftar today?
“Ramadan is a time when we can break down barriers and raise awareness about the true values of Islam – kindness, compassion and peace. Strengthening our faith in the company of others has always been a key part of this – and today I’m delighted to have joined prominent faith leaders from the Chief Rabbi to leader of the catholic church Cardinal Nichols, and young people of different faiths and backgrounds, to break our fasts at the historic Tower of London.”
“This was the first ever Iftar in the almost one-thousand-year history of the Tower – and together we sent a clear message to the world about the kind of city London is – one where we embrace and celebrate our diversity.
“The highlight of tonight’s Iftar was definitely the dessert – banoffee pie.”
What do you crave when fasting?
“I crave coffee when I’m fasting, without a doubt. And I know from speaking to Muslim friends and colleagues that the absence of caffeine is something we all miss, especially while working.”
What’s the hardest part of fasting?
“In addition to missing my caffeine fix to get through the day, the lack of sleep is also challenging. Waking up before sunrise every day is definitely tough – especially when I have a long work day ahead.”
And as you’re the mayor of London - what’s your favourite part about Ramadan in the capital?
“For the last two years, our holy month has looked very different, with coronavirus restrictions impacting the number of people we could join with to break our fasts. So I’m delighted that this year we are once again able to unite with friends, loved ones, and the wider community.
“As well as being a time of reflection and spending time with family, Ramadan is a wonderful opportunity to bring communities together and show our empathy, charity and hospitality. So I’m looking forward to joining many more Londoners across this holy month at other iconic locations to break my fast.”
Any particularly memorable iftars in London?
“The Interfaith Iftars organised by the Naz Legacy Foundation have always been a fantastic way to bring communities together. Previously we’ve joined together at St Paul’s Cathedral and St John’s Wood Synagogue. I’m also proud to be the first Mayor of London to hold an Iftar in Trafalgar Square with the Ramadan Tent Project – which was a really special evening. I really hope we can do it again!”