Imam Asim Hafiz

The Royal Navy hosted a faith-based reception to mark the moment Muslims around the world begin preparing for Eid following the holy month of Ramadan.

HMS Bangor played host to an Iftar reception, an evening meal at which Muslims end their daily Ramadan at sunset, at the ship's current port of Bahrain.

The Iftar reception was held at the United Kingdom Naval Support Facility (UKNSF), which was recently declared operational in Bahrain - the UK's first permanent site in the country for almost five decades.

An Iftar feast is an Islamic ritual forming the main meal of the fasting day, which occurs at sunset every day of Ramadan.

VIPs
His Excellency Dr Sheikh Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Commodore Steve Dainton and Imam Asim Hafiz

Forces Radio BFBS' Mario Chrisostomou spoke to the Islamic religious advisor to the Chief of the Defence Staff, Imam Asim Hafiz.

“Sharing another person’s religion or culture with them like today’s Iftar during Ramadan, the holiest time of the holiest month, is a tremendous way to show that we support their religion and demonstrate what life is like in Britain."

His Excellency Dr Sheikh Abdulla bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, The Undersecretary for International Affairs and other Bahrain guests attended the Iftar, which commenced with the breaking of the fast on the foredeck of HMS Bangor, before the guests moved to an ornate marquee for prayers and the meal.

Enjoying the food
Guests and VIPs enjoying the food

Commodore Steve Dainton, Commanding Officer of the UKMCC welcomed guests on board HMS Bangor just before sunset.

He spoke to Mario about the Royal Navy's hospitality and the importance of celebrating together.

"The opportunity to be able to host our colleagues is pretty natural to the Navy to do this.

"It's very important as well because we work together out at sea, it's important that we celebrate things like this, the Holy month of Ramadan, with our friends and with our colleagues."

Major Naveed Muhammad from the Royal Signals explains how important events like this are to Muslims serving in the British Army in the 21st century.

"We are more sensitive to the cultural and religious nuances and I've seen a lot of that change come through.

"We are an organisation now that is a lot better at understanding the environment that we're operating in..."

Building the marquee and preparing the NSF jetty in temperatures as high as 46ºC was no mean feat.

Lieutenant Peter Warwick-Brown, the Gunnery Officer of HMS Bangor said:

“It was mega hot and a lot of the jobs had to be done at the last minute, like turning the ship around.

"But the guys dug out blind and we are used to working on things at short notice, no matter what the heat is and it did all go to plan.”

Imam Asim Hafiz

HMS Bangor are used to hosting events in the Middle East, but this was a change from the norm. Lt Warwick-Brown said:

“It was certainly different to the capability demonstrations that we normally do. This Iftar had a particular purpose and focus and is a big deal during Ramadan.”

As the sun went down at the Naval Support Facility in Bahrain, The U.K. Maritime Component Command invited Bahraini guests to an Iftar (Breaking of the fast).

Posted by BFBS Radio on Friday, 8 June 2018

The sunset was filmed on board HMS Bangor 

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