It’s been a phenomenal year for us at Penny Appeal and I can’t think of a better way to close the 2017 chapter by reflecting on the success of our phenomenal ‘Muslim Panto Tour.’
We pride ourselves at Penny Appeal as being a dynamic, fresh and ‘youth-full’ organisation, with almost our entire senior leadership in their twenties and thirties. As such, we ensure we keep our ‘fingers on the pulse’ and our ‘ears on the ground,’ so as to remain connected to the ever-evolving nature of British Muslim communities. Our success, after all, is thanks to the generosity of our donors, hailing primarily from Muslim backgrounds across the country
Serving in the leadership of brands that have become, with Allah’s blessings, household names, has afforded me an incredible window into the nature of our communities. This past year I’ve been fortunate to sit and share a hearty meal with some of the most senior scholars in our country and also have had the honour of serving food to some of the most vulnerable and poor in our country too. Likewise, I’ve had a chance to spend time in the company of senior Muslim politicians, cruising the corridors of power whilst also taking to the streets in solidarity with the politically disempowered and disenfranchised.
Experiencing such a range of engaged, contributing British Muslim leaders fills me with hope. In almost every branch of society, if you look hard enough, you will find emerging talent, unapologetic of their Islam and not afraid to define what it means to belong here in Britain. The cultural expressions of Islam that I grew up with were mostly half-baked Indo-Pak cultural mishaps that were simply not fit for purpose. Today, however, there are a generation of ‘renaissance’ women and men embracing the timeless values of our faith whilst remaining culturally relevant to the lived experiences of British Muslims today.
It is the great challenge of every generation of Muslims, since the passing of our beloved Prophet, may peace and blessings be upon him; how do we balance traditional ethics with contemporary aesthetics? Looking back, I can see this is what we did with SingleMuslim.com and perhaps explains why we’ve reached over 2 million members, I just couldn’t quite explain it as well I can now.
I never set out with this grand mission to ‘make our faith relevant and engaging’ for young committed Muslims. I set up SingleMuslim.com as a natural extension of who I was, a reconciled British Muslim on a mission to find a wife! I had a problem and I set about crafting a solution, drawing on the confidence of my faith and the comfort with the tools that were at my disposal (thank God for internet, even though it was dial up back then!)
Fast forward to today, I’m so grateful that Penny Appeal, a multi-million-pound, award-winning charity with hundreds of staff can put its entire institutional weight behind supporting new dynamic expressions of British Muslim culture and entrepreneurship, helping them reach heights that I could only have dreamed on when I was on the beginning of my journey.
Enter, the Muslim Pantomime Tour. Embracing the festive spirit with crazy costumes, silly songs, bizarre blunders and lots of laughs, “If the Shoe Fits,” is our first foray into on-stage theatre. This tour sold our faster than any other event we’ve done. We had an incredible time across 6 cities, sharing a lot of laughs and raising an incredible amount of money for Penny Appeal’s OrphanKind programme.
The success of our Muslim panto tour further evidences what I’ve been exploring thus far. Across society, Muslims are looking for spaces that bring together their faith and values with contemporary expressions of British culture. Especially the younger generation who even further removed from wherever ‘back home’ might be.
We live in strange and difficult times, but where there is a crisis there is also an opportunity and you can count on Penny Appeal to be there serving society every step of the way.