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Muslim Aid Blog

Sharing is Caring

To put it simply, Islam encourages unity and equality among all individuals, regardless of age, colour, gender or social status.

Take the annual pilgrimage of Hajj, for example; the ihram signifies quality in the eyes of our Lord and unites people in the process. Nobody is richer or poorer, popular or unpopular, educated or uneducated and so on in the eyes of Allah (SWT). Whether you are a widow or an orphan, a child or an adult – Allah (SWT) loves us all the same. Therefore, it is important for all of us to do our bit for humanity, be it by helping the homeless, sponsoring a child or volunteering our time.

“If either commits deeds of righteousness, be they male or female and have faith they will enter paradise and not the least injustice will be done to them.”

- The Holy Qur’an (4:124)

Many individuals are of the mindset that men are superior to women or even vice-versa – but this is simply not the case. Yes, women and men have been created differently, but our rights are the same – there is no hierarchy to speak of. Both women and men have the same obligations and both women and men have to account for their good and bad deeds. Justice is not based upon gender.

“Oh, mankind! We created you from a single (pair) male and female and made you into nations and communities that you may identify each other. Verily, the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah (SWT) is the most virtuous of you. And Allah (SWT) has full knowledge and is well acquainted with all things.”

- The Holy Qur’an (49:13)

Encouraging unity in Islam is a duty upon all Muslim’s - in fact, not only in Islam but the whole of humanity. We are taught to share from a very young age and should continue this by teaching our children to do the same as sharing with others and being generous is proven to increase self-happiness.

It is natural for any human being to feel compassion towards another human being in the face of adversity and would do whatever they can in their power to ease someone else’s suffering. However, many of us go by what we see right in front of us and fail to look at the bigger picture.

For example, if we were crossing the road and saw someone fall, we would rush to their side immediately to assist them or see if they are okay; on the other hand, thousands of miles away across the world, many millions of people suffer day in, day out, struggling to just survive… but because we do not physically see it is easy to forget that it exists. Sadly, it does exist regardless.

When we watch the news following a world disaster or conflict it often doesn’t feel real because it’s not happening to us or our families; poverty is something we are accustomed to seeing on the news throughout our entire lives, right? What makes us think it won’t happen to us? Many of us are just one missed paycheck away from losing everything. Can you imagine if it did? Imagine what all these people currently in difficulty are going through every day?

“The Rich Get Richer; the Poor Get Poorer”

So many of us live a sheltered life away from reality and, of course, when we are tested in life or we lose someone close to us it hurts; when times get tough we often find ourselves wondering how we can carry on - but can you imagine how it would feel to lose almost everyone in your life and then be faced with having nothing and nobody left? It’s pretty hard to imagine, isn’t it? Imagine losing your parents and being left to fend for yourself as an orphan? Worse still, imagine if that had happened to your own child?

These brothers and sisters who are suffering in developing or war-torn countries are also human beings who feel love and compassion towards their families and they too feel hunger and thirst just as we do. Being in the position that so many of us are in, it is our duty as fellow human beings to help the homeless and those in need of our support. Collectively, we have the power to change the world, so let’s make a start on it! So many of us indulge in materialistic things that we do not really need when there are people out there struggling to just exist – just imagine… that expensive handbag you carry or the flashy, designer watch you occasionally wear having the potential to feed an entire community for a year?

This is the exact reason why Allah (SWT) is testing us with wealth – to see exactly what we do with it. Everything we have is God-given and temporary in this world, we are not taking a single penny to our grave with us so let’s share what we are given with others because it is the very reason Allah (SWT) has blessed us with it in the first place. Besides, giving in charity does not decrease our wealth, but in fact, increases it, along with earning us a multitude of rewards for our Hereafter as a result. Ultimately, it is our charity that will be our saviour on the day of Judgement.

We should want for others what we wish for ourselves because every single living being on this earth is created by Allah (SWT) and is equally as loved by Allah (SWT). Every blessing we are rewarded with in the world is thanks to Him and every difficulty we face is for our own betterment. Helping others gives us more of a sense of happiness and selfless satisfaction than helping ourselves ever will.

Many Islamic acts are based around unity and equality; take the pilgrimage of Hajj, for example, the entire concept surrounds Muslims in congregation, wearing identical clothing. This just proves that in the eyes of Allah (SWT) we are all equal, regardless of our financial standing or what people see of us. We have all come from Allah (SWT) and to Him we shall return. Congregational Friday prayers at Mosque, along with Salaatul Eid (Eid prayer) and Salaatul Janaazah (funeral prayer) are based upon unity, too.

So, brothers and sisters who are reading this, let’s unite and attempt to liberate those who are suffering today – let’s all join forces in helping the homeless, the elderly, the orphans, the widows, those who have had to flee their homes, those who have lost their loved ones, those who have no water or food - sooner rather than later; let’s invest in the rewards for our Hereafter sooner rather than later; let’s educate our children on the importance of sharing and remaining humble… sooner rather than later.

  • 6 Sep 2018 update What Is Life Like For The Rohingya Left Behind In Myanmar?

    One year on from the Rohingya crisis, Kawsar Zaman visits Myanmar to witness life for the Rohingya children left behind. 

    This Saturday 25 August marks 1 year on from the start of the mass exodus of the Rohingya people who fled violence in Rakhine State, Myanmar, across the border to Bangladesh. The refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh, now home to more than 900,000 people, have been constantly in the international news. However, there are still half a million Rohingya people remaining in camp-like situations in Kachin, Kayan, Shan and Rakhine states. So, what is life like for the Rohingya left behind? 

    Kawsar Zaman, a lawyer in the City of London and a Trustee for the charity Muslim Aid, has just returned from Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine State, Myanmar. Kawsar grew up in a council home, in the East End of London. As the youngest of seven siblings, he was the first in his family to go to university, ending up graduating from LSE, Oxford and Harvard Law School. Following his recent visit, Kawsar gives us an insight into life for Rohingya children still inside Myanmar.

    I have just returned from Myanmar on a visit to camps which are home to displaced Rohingya people in Rakhine State, Myanmar – a people described by the United Nations as “most persecuted minority in the world”. Since the outbreak of communal violence in 2012, over a million of the Rohingya community have fled to neighbouring Bangladesh with a 200,000 remaining in Rakhine State; confined to makeshift camps they have called home for six years.

    It was my first visit to the heart of a crisis and I walked along improvised streets beaten by the monsoon rain and lined with tents. For me, the most harrowing experience of all was the sight of children walking bare feet, without any clothes, looking for something to do. And yet, these are children who should be at school. This conflict was not the making or the result of their doing but they now suffer the fate of no access to education and in turn, the prospect of a life in a vicious circle of poverty. 

    I met Abdullah in a camp we visited. He was only 10 years old; but looked much older, perhaps brought on by the stresses and strain of living in the camp. His father had passed away and he was left alone with his younger sibling to support his mother. He had no education and was not in school. However, Abdullah told me he wanted to be a doctor when he grew up.  

    I grew up in disadvantage – in a council home, in the East End of London. As the youngest of seven siblings, I was the first in my family to go to university. I ended up graduating from LSE, Oxford and Harvard Law School. Today, as a lawyer practicing in the City of London, as a governor at a secondary state comprehensive school in Bethnal Green and a trustee of Toynbee Hall, I know the power of schooling to transform lives. Education is the greatest liberating force of our generation.  

    According to data published by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, 263 million children and youth worldwide are missing out on the chance to go to school, with conflict being a major barrier to education.  Globally, 35% of all out-of-school children of primary age (22 million), 25% of all out-of-school adolescents of lower secondary age (15 million), and 18% of all out-of-school youth of upper secondary age live in conflict-affected areas (26 million).

    I became a trustee of Muslim Aid UK nine months ago. At 28, I believe I am the youngest trustee of any major British INGO. I live a fairly comfortable life as a lawyer so it was an opportunity I felt I had to take up -  to give back to others and share my own experiences having grown up in disadvantage. The power and opportunity to be part of a team operating in 30 countries across the world is incredible - but most importantly for me, driven by a strong sense of faith based giving, I’m proud to be part of Muslim Aid UK which supports all peoples irrespective of ones’ race, religion, colour, or creed.  

    Muslim Aid is one of only a handful of international aid agencies operating on the ground in Myanmar. It has built a hospital, provided shelter to 720 people, trained people in livelihood skills from helping them set up their own businesses – including masonry and handicraft – with a particular focus on helping vulnerable women. 

    A key focus for Muslim Aid Myanmar is on education with a vision to improve access and equality for both girls and boys in 300 learning centres and in seven temporary learning schools they have constructed, benefiting 3,250 children. Prior to these projects, most children were completely illiterate. Now many of them have school uniform, made by girls trained to sew at a Muslim Aid project, and access to toilets, showers and water when they go to school.   

    As I reflect on my visit, I cannot help but struggle with the thought of how our lives are such lotteries. Where we are born will dictate our lives and our life chances – irrespective of how hardworking or intelligent we may be. Born as a Rohingya child in Rakhine State, Myanmar in the centre of a conflict there is little prospect of you leaving a refugee camp let alone go to school. Born in London – and, you have the prospect of a good education and the opportunities to thrive at will. Globally, we have a duty to do more to eradicate child poverty and give every child the chance to go to school; for education is the greatest liberating force of our generation. It is quite frankly, the very least we can do.

    What Is Life Like For The Rohingya Left Behind In Myanmar?
    • What Is Life Like For The Rohingya Left Behind In Myanmar?
  • 31 Jul 2018 update The Importance of Qurbani

    As a parent, it is a lifelong duty to ensure your family is resilient and united. The leadership role that you play is important to teach and help children understand significant values of life.

    Qurbani is a very important time to educate your children about in order to raise their awareness of the act of giving. Sacrificing livestock has substantial meaning in Islam as the sacrifice of Prophet Ibrahim is what marks the very reason we sacrifice during Qurbani.

    • muslim-qurbani
    • The Importance of Qurbani
  • 23 Jul 2018 update Important Hajj Dates 2018

    If you are embarking on the Hajj pilgrimage this year, it is likely you already have all your travel documents in order and know when you will be arriving in Mecca. However, we thought it would be a good idea to provide a list of important dates in order to give an insight into how the Hajj pilgrimage generally plays out over the months.

    For some people the Hajj pilgrimage starts months before it ‘technically' does. Since around 3 million pilgrims undertake this pilgrimage every year, there is a conscious need to moderate the flow of Haji's in and out of the country. For that the country adapts a ‘first come, first serve' principle. The first batch to arrive is also the first one to leave after Eid ul Adha. With that in mind, below is a dated outline of how Hajj will unfold this year. We'd like to mention that these dates have been provided by the Ministry of Hajj in Saudi Arabia.

    9th Dhul-Hijjah 1436 (approximately Sunday, August 19th 2018)

  • 23 Jul 2018 update Frequently Asked Questions - UK

    UK Qurbani

      • Q: Is the meat Halal?

    Yes, the meat is approved by the Halaal Monitoring Committee (HMC)

      • Q: Which animal will be used for the Qurbani?

    Sheep/mutton weighing approx 17/18kg.

      • Q: When will the meat be delivered?

    Delivery will be made to the donor and beneficiary either on 3rd or 4th September 2017.

      • Q: Is the delivery charge included?

    Yes, delivery is included in the price of £150

      • Q: How is it packed and kept fresh?

    Delivery will be placed in a strong cool-box which prevents the meat from spoiling and protects it from any knocks. Independent tests have shown that the unique travel packs keep your order chilled during transit between 24 and 48 hours.

    • Q: Who are the recipients of the 1/3 of the meat given through UK Qurbani?

    Our clients are credible local partners and organisations who work with the most poorest and vulnerable people in the UK. Our beneficiaries are people from single parent families on a low income, the homeless, individuals or families who have  applied for Zakat due to financial hardships and people who have been referred to access local food banks.

      • Q: Will I receive two thirds of the meat?

    Yes, the donor will receive 2/3rds of the meat and 1/3rd will be send to a poor, needy or homeless beneficiary in the UK.

    • Q: What is the green colour mark on the meat?

    HMC use a green alcohol free meat marking ink which sometimes stains the meat, it is totally safe and doesn’t change the quality of the meat in anyway.

    Read more about the Programme

  • 23 Jul 2018 update Hajj Facts

    Hajj is no doubt an amazing spiritual journey that every Muslim aspires to embark on. There is an enormous amount of information associated with Hajj; most is critical to ensure that Hajj is performed not only in the best intentions but also in the correct manner. With that being said there is a ton of information related to Hajj including important Hajj facts that all Muslims should be aware of. Here we will outline a few very important details for our readers in order to get them further acquainted with this immensely important and complex ritual.

    • There are 5 pillars of Islam. Hajj is the 5th.
    • Performing Hajj is compulsory on every Muslim at least once in their life time.
    • Hajj occurs on the 8th to 12th of Dhul Hijjah, the last month of the Islamic calendar
    • Muslims who have performed Hajj are called Hajjis. Some even add the title in front of their name to denote their accomplishment.
    • During Hajj, men are required to dress in Ehraam which is basically two pieces of white sheets they wrap themselves up with. Women are required to dress normal stay in Hijab.
    • Pilgrims stay at Mount Arafat then move to Muzdalfah and Mina where they perform the stoning ritual at the Jamaraat.
    • Mount Arafat is where Prophet Muhammad PBUH delivered his final sermon in which he preached on how men should treat women; that all Muslims are brothers and should stay united.
    • Jamaraat are three walls located in close vicinity to each other that donate the exact spot where the devil, in human form, tried to mislead Prophet Ibrahim against following Allah's instructions. Prophet Ibrahim rebuked him by throwing stones at him and he went away.
    • Millions of Muslims today follow in the same ritual and stone the 3 walls at the Jamaraat.
    • After the stoning ritual, Muslims perform Udhiya, also known as Qurbani in which they sacrifice a goat, sheep, cow or camel. The meat is distributed to the poor and the needy as well as neighbours and relatives. Many people donate their Qurbani to the poor.
    • Pilgrims perform the Tawaf Al-Wida after Hajj before heading home. Tawaf-al-Wida entails walking around the Holy Kabaa inside Masjid Al-Haram in circle 7 times.
    • Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) performed Umrah 4 times and Hajj once
    • Over 3 million pilgrims performed Hajj last year. This number is expected to grow even further this year.

    The above mentioned Hajj facts outline some of the most noteworthy and important aspects of the pilgrimage. May Allah SWT give all Muslims the opportunity to perform Hajj and all those who are embarking on Hajj this year have a safe stay and swift journey home.