Ramadan is almost here!
As we gear up for the busiest month of our personal and professional lives I’m reminded of research that tells us Muslims are Britain’s top charity givers. What’s even more amazing is that this is in spite of the fact that almost half of the British Muslim population live in bottom 10% of local authority districts for deprivation.
I want you to soak that in for a moment.
Despite belonging to poorest communities in the country (owing to migration patterns as well as being at the brunt of the highest rates of prejudice and discrimination) British Muslims are still the most generous of people. Having the honour to witness the sheer scale of this every Ramadan is truly one of the highlights of my year.
I’ve been blessed to be able to travel to the countries and communities where your generous donations are transforming lives. Whether it’s rural Pakistan or remote villages in the Gambia when I tell our beneficiaries that the aid they receive has come from their sisters and brothers in the UK I’m almost always met with the same universal sense of disbelief.
It’s inconceivable to them that thousands of miles away, in a far away (and very cold) land there are Muslims who care about their struggles and pain; it literally brings tears to their eyes. Most British Muslims will never see the faces of the people they help or even know their names. We give with open hearts as an expression of our faith and in doing so we are transformed by the very act of giving. Our teachers remind us that whilst the we may call the poor people we help our ‘beneficiaries’ in the next life the tables are turned as we will be grateful to have had the opportunity to have done good, in that sense, we, as donors, are the true beneficiaries.
Ramadan is the month where we starve ourselves of our physical pleasures and delight in the spiritual banquet on offer. Our faith asks us to do to the difficult task of thinking beyond of ourselves, when we’re able to put other people before ourselves it makes the world a better place. We all seek to fill our lives with happiness but did you know the very word ‘pleasure’ comes from the old French verb ‘plaisir’ which means ‘to please’ – in other words to please other people.
Our happiness doesn’t depend on what we have but rather on what we can do for others; when you get a critical mass of people thinking of others before themselves, as we experience in Ramadan, that’s how you build a little bit of heaven on earth.
I’m so grateful that year in, year out, through transforming your small chance into a big difference, here at Penny Appeal we play our part.
Come and join the movement, Bismillah.