Muslims in the UK remember the importance of giving in Ramadan

SHAFAQNA - Ceasing the chance of the holy month of Ramadan, British Muslims have been expanding the reach of their donations and Zakat during the holy month, focusing more on offering helping hand to the needy in their community and humanitarian causes, regardless of faith.

“Ramadan has always been a month for giving and sharing and therefore most Muslims chose to pay their zakat at this time of the year,” Thomas Oakford from the Omega Movement told Shafaqna.

“This year is a bit different in the sense that donations have been made outside the scope of Muslim charities.”

Ramadan, the holiest month in Islamic calendar, started this year on Thursday, June 18, in UK.

In Ramadan, adult Muslims abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.

The sick and those traveling are exempt from fasting especially if it poses health risks.

In Ramadan, Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to be closer to Allah through prayers, self-restraint, good deeds and charity to the poor.

Throughout Ramadan, Muslim charity organizations hurry up to launch more campaigns in order to support the needy all over the world and grasp the blessings of this holy month, the month of giving.

Their activities vary from food packing and distribution, financial donations, collective Iftars, to shelters and many others.

Shams Abdullah, who works in Crawley as a charity consultant and has helped monitor and set up several grassroot not-for-profits organization, said she witnessed an interesting trend among Muslim-orientated charities this year as many have broaden their reach and targeted non-Muslims in their charitable programs.

“This is not anymore about just helping needy Muslims, it is about building bonds with other communities and embracing people regardless of their beliefs and background. In many ways I truly think this is exactly what we all should be doing as Muslims,” she told Shafaqna.

“Islam is not about helping just Muslims it is about offering spiritual sanctuary and shelter for all those who need it.”

New Frontiers

This year, many Muslims in the UK have said they decided to save a portion of their donations for broad humanitarian causes rather than specifically concentrate on restricting their help to needy Muslim communities.

Nour Saleh a Syrian refugee now relocated in South London, explained how while still looking for work herself following her arrival in the UK as a refugee of war  six months ago.

She has been volunteering for charities working in providing humanitarian aid to people in disaster area.

“I don’t have money to give but it does not mean I can’t help people by offering my time and my skills. For me it is about helping people in difficulty,” she told Shafaqna “I don’t really care whether those I’m helping are Muslims or not! I really just want to honor my religion by living up to its teachings and principles. To be perfectly honest, helping others has helped me through my own struggle.”

Nour is not the only one who wants to open up to other people outside the Muslim community this Ramadan by extending a helping hand or financial relief.

Melany Bassem who converted to Islam five years ago told OnIslam how this Ramadan she and a group of friends are helping her local synagogue raised money for repairs.

“We decided this Ramadan to get out of our cocoon and get out there. The only way we can ever hope to build an all-inclusive society is by reaching out to others and hope that they will do the same. If we’re here for them when they need us, one day they might just stand with us when we need them,” she said.

“Either way it feels great to make new friends and break misplaced stereotypes,” she added.

Britain is home to a Muslim community of nearly 2.7 million.

According to Islamic Shari`ah, a capable Muslim pays 2.5 percent mandatory payment and spend it to help the poor and the needy.

In July 2013, a survey by JustGiving charity website has found that Muslims top charity givers in the UK, compared with other faiths.

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