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Royal Navy ship hosts moving iftar ceremony in Bahrain to celebrate Ramadan

Royal Navy ship hosts moving iftar ceremony in Bahrain to celebrate Ramadan
13 April 2023
Sailors aboard Royal Navy support ship RFA Cardigan Bay were joined by 150 guests to celebrate an iftar – the traditional act of breaking the fast in the Islamic Holy Month of Ramadan.

Bahraini Naval Forces in their home country were the largest contingent of guests aboard the auxiliary, which is the hub for Royal Navy mine warfare operations in the Gulf region.

Joining them were personnel from some of the 38 nations which make up the Combined Maritime Forces operating from the kingdom, and UK dignitaries, led by the most senior religious figure in the Royal Navy, Chaplain of the Fleet The Venerable Father Andrew Hillier, and Imam Asim Hafiz, the Islamic Advisor to Chief of the Defence Staff Admiral Sir Tony Radakin.

The latter duo spent three days in Bahrain, focussed on gaining a mutual understanding of different faiths in a deployed environment (several hundred UK personnel from all three Services, predominantly Royal Navy, are based in the kingdom carrying out Operation Kipion, Britain’s security mission in the Middle East).

Understanding the religious and cultural landscape is a key part of serving on Kipion. Muslim Service personnel can observe the fast and attend prayer whenever possible. 

This year, as was done pre-Covid, the UK’s Command decided to host a breaking of the fast for partner nations to attend, offering thanks for their welcome and support, but also give UK personnel an experience of the Islamic Holy Month, aiming to deepen their understanding of the faith.  

As the last rays of sunlight dipped below the surrounding buildings, Imam Asim gave the call to prayer.

Those observing Ramadan were invited to break their fast with the customary dates and juice before gathering for Maghrib, the fourth of the five required daily prayers, led by the Imam.

Following this, all on board shared the selection of local and traditional foods on Cardigan Bay’s flight deck.

“One of the key things for hosting this Iftar is to show our gratitude to our hosts here in Bahrain but also the fact that we work as part of a coalition,” said Imam Asim.

Ramadan is a time to bring friends, family and the community together. It’s only right we do an Iftar and bring people of all faiths together. Firstly, in order share food, which creates love and friendship. Secondly, it gives the opportunity to learn from each other.”

During their visit, Imam Asim and Fr Hillier also spent an afternoon on HMS Middleton, learning about the importance of the mine warfare capabilities the UK has deployed in the region. 

Ramadan is due to end on April 21.

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