Ramadan in Derby,UK

Updated: Oct 14, 2021

About the interviewee

My name is Faisal Ali I’m 25 years old and I am a British Pakistani born Muslim from a small city called Derby located at the heart of England in the East Midlands region. I enjoy traveling and photography and I am a big foodie, cooking, and going out to eat.

Mohammed Faisal Ali

With many big culturally diverse cities around Derby such as; Birmingham, Leicester, Nottingham, and Sheffield. Derby doesn’t have a big Muslim community as those cities but it doesn’t go to say that the community of Derby is one of the strongest communities I have come across.

The Muslim community is a tight-knit community yet very open and very caring with the majority of the Muslims being predominantly of Pakistani heritage, there are many other small cultures that form the big Muslim community in Derby. You have people from all over the world that bring their culture to the streets of Derby Ramadan. You have Turkish, Iranians, Iraqis, Somalians, Bangladeshi, Afghans, Kurds, and many more. We all consider ourselves brothers and sisters, we all form a big community and we integrate with one another where we show love, appreciation, and support.

1.What Muslims in Derby do before the first day of Ramadan?

The Muslim community of Derby tends to do a lot of shopping for the first day of Ramadan a week before it begins in which they will gather all essential items for Iftar and suhoor. But a few days before a lot of the supermarkets (sharif & sons / Pak food store) on Normanton road have very good deals for people to come buy groceries and meat, at a discount price so they can help the families that may be struggling or less fortunate. And around this time you will see a whole lot of people from Muslims to non-Muslims greeting one another with a beautiful smile on their faces. Anything they don’t sell the supermarkets always donates to charity especially in the month of Ramadhan.

2.The spirit in Derby during Ramadan?

The spirit of the Muslim community in Derby is always at a high as we’re very very giving and always helping out the community as also the local councils in any way we can. But during the beautiful time of Ramadan, everyone is always joyful and caring, but they’re also much more relaxed even though we’ve had Ramadan in the hottest summers in recent times, as everyone knows that they’re fasting. You will see a lot of people in the streets giving out dates as well a few other small things, you’ll see people enjoying themselves day and night in the festive period of Ramadan, excitement and positivity can be seen in everyday acts like general shopping and people going about their daily lives. Overall the spirit levels are very high, it’s a feeling of happiness even during sad times.

We also have a lot of support from the non-Muslim community all over Derby giving us gifts and helping us whenever it is needed.

3.How does typical Iftar at home look?

Iftar at home usually consists of a 3-course meal as you could say. We always break our fast with 3 dates and a big glass of water, then we go pray the Maghreb. We’re not a big family so we don’t make a lot of food as my brother lives in London, it’s my mother, my father, and my 2 sisters, So we don’t usually make a whole lot of food. For starters, my parents usually cook grilled chicken tikka with salad fry the odd samosa and pakora. Mains are usually are heavier protein/carb but also light at the time, so it could vary from chicken wraps with sweet potatoes too shepherds pie and gravy, to a more traditional Pakistani inspired dish with chapatis. And as always my father has sweet tooth so there’s some sort of dessert on the table. But always make sure we’re not overfull and anything we have leftover we always give to our neighbors.

4.What a typical Suhoor looks like?

A typical suhoor at home consist of high carb foods but also long-lasting carbs such as porridge and bananas, so a healthy suhoor. My mum always makes homemade Parathe and they are so delicious so filling, crispy buttery parathe is my favorite. And to finish off our suhoor we keep hydrated with water and a few more dates.

5.Is there any food or drink specifically consumed in Ramadan?

One of the most common drinks in a Pakistani household I would say is Rooh-Afza, which is a rose petal flavored syrup that you add to water, milk, or even lemonade. It’s a very popular drink amongst the Asian community. It has a very distinctive taste one which will make you go back for more, I would definitely recommend it with milk, it’s a rose milkshake.

Now onto a certain dish, now this is known worldwide and always brings a smile on any readers’ face and that dish is… Biryani! You can have chicken biryani, lamb biryani, mutton biryani, or even a vegetable biryani. This is served on a platter in the middle of the dining table for everyone to pass around share.

6.How do people celebrate Eid al-Fitr?

The night we find out Eid is the following day, we all go to Masjid pray our Isha namaaz and we all leave the mosque with a smile. We wake up in the morning get ready with new clean clothes with a few drops of Oud so we smell nice. We go to the Masjid and pray our Eid namaaz and we greet everyone or as many people as we can before heading to the graveyard and paying our respects. Then we arrive at home with the aroma of beautiful delicious food cooked and ready to eat, but before we greet our family, give my gifts to my sisters and mother. Then we all sit down eat lightly and thank Allah for blessing us before we travel to relatives' houses to whoever is hosting Eid gatherings that day. This is usually a 2-day gathering as the 1st day a few families will host and then the 2nd day we will host and invite all friends and family around. Then the evening/3rd day I will gather with a few good brothers and we will enjoy ourselves laugh and joke and go out to eat. It’s a great vibe.

7.What makes Derby special in Ramadan?

During Ramadan, many people will host a lot of Muslims to a big gathering for Iftar, every year we have an event called ‘Iftar in the Park’ where Muslim brothers will get together and serve food for everyone. There is also a small charity appeal in which everyone always gives no matter how much it is. For the sisters the buzzing excitement of chaand raat taking place on in Normanton where the festivities begin, there are many activities in the community hall where they will do apply mendhi (henna) on one another, look at clothing as there are small stalls opened so like a small bazaar for the ladies.

8.What should travelers expect to experience if they visit Derby in Ramadan?

You will find a vibrant, warm atmosphere with a lot of busy places but very friendly. You will meet a lot of people from different backgrounds truly feeling the diverse culture yet the strength of the community held together by the ties of one another being caring humans and Muslims.

9.If I was visiting Derby in Ramadan, where would the best place to have Iftar?

This is a very difficult question to answer, as there are much variety of food places in Derby and surrounding areas to eat from. But one I can say without a second thought is my house, and we will welcome you with open arms.

But these are some that I will recommend having Iftar at:

Cafe clock – this is located in a small town of Burton On Trent, which serves delicious juicy burgers and fries ranging from cheeseburgers to fried chicken burgers with many specialties. They also serve camel, ostrich, deer and duck burgers. Everything is Halal and it is only 15 minutes drive from Derby city center. Instagram: @Cafe.clock

Monmos – this is located in Derby and Burton on Trent. It is a healthy grilled food place with many different flavors, they specialize in grilled peri peri chicken and grilled lamb. With fish and burgers are their menu everything is always on point.

Slice of India – if you’re looking for a more traditional Indian cuisine then this is one I’d recommend, with its buffet menu and variety of dishes this is great option for a family Iftar. Prices vary from £14.95 weekdays – £16.95pp on weekends.

Then a few places I’d recommend that are on Normanton road if you want the diverse culture vibe:

Dunn’s River – Halal Jamaican

Haroon’s – halal Takeaway; known for donner kebabs, pizza, and amazing lamb shish also they do Italian and Chinese dishes.

Istanbul – traditional Turkish cuisine with authentic fresh flavors. Iskender kebab was my favorite.

Yum burger – a twist to McDonald’s but all halal, their milkshakes are amazing as well as their fries.

10. What would you like to share about Ramadan in Derby?

Ramadhan is always a special occasion all over the world where everyone gathers together and supports one another. In Derby you will feel like you’re at home, with the busy city life you have many outskirts of the city, with the Peak District close by and the Derbyshire Dales. There are so many locations in Derby to travel and with Ramadhan and all Muslims fasting, it has a special feeling visiting places and seeing the virtues of others. If you would like to visit then I will be more than happy to take you around Derby and it’ll be a pleasure of mine to do so.

RAMADAN 2020 PROJECT: Fellow sisters and brothers around the world joined Halal Travel Experts to spread the joy and knowledge of Ramadan. To become a part of this exciting project, email us at blog@halaltravels.com. It is just 10 simple questions but the answers go beyond the oceans.


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