On Monday, 29th of July 2013, I hosted a complete stranger to break her fast with me during the month of Ramadan. This was part of the interfaith networking for the mental health charity, Mind.
I rushed to volunteer for this opportunity by getting in touch with Global Village/Experiencing Ramadan Admin – Ali Amla following a spiritual high having just come back from one of those once in a lifetime journeys from Konya, Turkey. And my heart yearned to do something to share that same connection I had felt with the locals of Konya. That I was the stranger there, one who couldn’t speak their language or understand their ways yet I felt right at home alongside them and that was because we shared something deep in common. That is, Being human. Having faith. Believing in Divine God and Love.
So in order to replicate that here in London, I was excited yet slightly nervous about meeting Katharina. When I first got an email from her prior to the meeting, I saw her job title and I thought; I have never met anyone working in that capacity, how fascinating! And what was even more wonderful was that Katharina came across as a warm and gregarious person who was very much looking forward to fasting for a good cause and meeting me of course. Our emails back and forth evaporated any concerns that I may have had about hosting someone to break their fast with me at home welcoming them in to my family for the first time.
I thought about what I should cook, how I should behave and what we would talk about. In turning to a teacher and guide for counsel, I was told, just be yourself and let your good character be the role model that welcomes a stranger with ease.
Katharina and I enjoyed a humble and lovely evening together where she put up not only with my cooking, my experiences in my journey of faith to date but also my trip back from Turkey which I can’t seem to stop talking about nowadays. I wanted her to know why Muslims fast during Ramadan and what fasting means to me personally. She was an engaging and sociable guest with great conversation skills and sound knowledge on many topics we discussed. I felt completely comfortable with her despite having never met her ever before. I even prayed in her presence as I would have to after breaking fast. She was very respectful and forbearing in her mannerisms. And she was too kind and generous with her words and compliments thereafter.
We parted ways on the premise of staying in touch and meeting again soon – remembering each other in good stride and our prayers.
‘There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met’. – William Butler Yates