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Last week, Saturday, I had the pleasure of attending Muslim Aid’s Women’s charity ball. The ball was set in a beautiful location in the heart of London. Food and drinks were plentiful. There was some entertainment in the form of traditional Middle Eastern dancing (I found myself attempting it – a memory I would quite like to discard from the contents of my mind). The ball provided an opportunity for women all over London to meet, network and, of course, to take selfies. But the main purpose of this much needed event was to raise awareness of, and raise funds for, Syria’s emergency hospital appeal.
It is no secret that the situation in Syria has been, and continues to be, unbearable: Countless lives have been lost; thousands have been injured; malnutrition is rife.
Under such circumstances, it is only plausible that hospital-admittance of civilians will be high. And they are.
It is also only reasonable to expect that a hospital should be a place for hope: where wounds are healed not worsened; where lives are saved, not under threat from air strikes. Unfortunately, it is not.
The medical staffs in North Syria’s largest hospital face several obstacles in providing care to civilians. Beds and medical resources are limited, buildings and infrastructure are damaged, access to medical supplies and medicine is restricted.
The consequences of these obstacles are understandably detrimental. The good news is, we’re in a position to do something about it, and subsequently to alleviate some – even a little – of the suffering faced by the people of Syria on a daily basis.
And it is precisely this information, which led to my pledge of £20,000. It is also the fact that the request for pledges were delivered by the most convincing Rahim Jung (the brother often seen on TV).
Brother Rahim has a unique ability: He has managed to convince me that I can raise £20,000. Props to him – his speech led to what I can only describe as an intense spike in Imaan, and an immense sense of self-belief.
It was only the morning after the ball, when the realisation of what I had committed to had set in. I called my best friend saying, “9 people made the pledge for £20, 000. Guess who was in those 9?!” The panic had set in: What if I couldn’t deliver? What if I didn’t make a single penny? What if everyone thought I was collecting this money for myself? What if 1 year wasn’t enough to raise £20,000.
I would be lying if I said my fears were entirely money-related. I worried that I would appear like a fool when I eventually failed.
On some reflection, I realised that my pride had clouded my perception of what was really important: It’s about raising money for those who need it, and raising money – not alone – but together with others. The confidence and support my friends have shown in me successfully completing this endeavour, has been over-whelming.
It is only then I realised that the pledge I made is for the purposes of serving humanity. It was never about me at all. And then came the feelings associated with potential success, and all that we could achieve: What if I raise more money than pledged? What if I raise less than £20,000 but still raise some money? Some money is better than no money.
Armed with that fuzzy-feeling which comes from doing something for others, I began to fundraise.
The first step was to create a fundraising page – with virgin money (please donate and share):
I raised my hand alone when making that pledge – but I am confident that I am not alone in wanting to reach this target, and aiding the people of Syria in their time of need. As wonderful and supportive as my friends are, we can’t do this without your help.
I am not Brother Raheem from TV so I do not have the words to make you feel like you can do anything you set your mind to. Nor do I have extensive knowledge of Islam to drop every Hadeeth under the sun to make you realise the importance of helping your brothers and sisters in need.
But here’s what I do know – charity is one of the 5 pillars of Islam: To love for your brother what you love for yourself, to show kindness and mercy toward those in need are the teachings of our beloved prophet (SAW), a man whose life we have been taught to emulate.
What I also know is that if even among the less well-connected human beings who are unable to hold brilliant events (me), raising money is not beyond the realm of possibility. Really it’s not. I’ll show you how, in a second. Above all, Allah is the best of planners. If we bear that in mind and make sincere intentions, we can do this.
With all that in mind, please consider joining me in raising money using the following ideas. If you have better ones, please tell me and add to the comments!
1) The swear box
Much to the dismay of my Mother, I have a potty-mouth. A fountain of filth spews from my mouth, regularly. The same is true of my friends. It doesn’t matter what we are saying or the emotion we are trying to convey, if there’s no use of profanities the uttered- sentence doesn’t quite feel right.
I’ve decided to place a little box in my friend’s car. Every time one of us swears, 20 pence goes in to the box. I know my friends well enough to know that this won’t reduce swearing, but I’m sure, in shaa Allah, it will raise some money. Please go ahead and try the same with your friends.
2) The have-some-aunties-and-cousins-over
It’s difficult to hold massive dinners and events. It’s not difficult to have some aunties and cousins over, though, and charge them for simple tasks: an auntie may need her eye-brows fixing, someone may like a massage. If you’ve got an aunt with feet like my aunt, you know they’re in need of a pedicure (you know who you are, Auntie). The make-up-competent among you could provide someone with a make-over.
3) A bake-sale
Several people have suggested a bake sale to me. I can’t bake. But perhaps you can, or maybe you know someone who can. People will buy cakes. And they’re even more likely to buy it if they know the proceeds are going to charity.
A related point is an-anything-food-related sale. People will always buy food. The only thing I can do in the kitchen is open the fridge and peer inside. But you may be a useful adult, or have access to wonderful mums and aunts. Get them to help you out.
The venue may be a little tricky in this case. If you’re not friends with the guy who looks after the local community centre, then you could consider doing it at home. Save on venue costs and, this way, you get to give more money to the cause at hand!
4) Mehndi, mehndi, mehndi (Henna)
I have a very talented friend, mashallah. And she can apply mehndi. She has applied mehndi to brides, and during Eid. She doesn’t charge – but now she will. And all the proceeds will go to this cause. If you are also in possession of such a friend, use them. Use that skill. This is tried and tested. It works.
5) Local shops, mosques and parties – the power of the box.
Get a charity box – and let the box fill itself. I am trying to get hold of charity boxes as we speak, and distributing them to places that people regularly visit: local shops, family parties (my Mum is not at all uncomfortable shaking boxes at people and asking them to donate. Awkward, but it works.) and, of course, mosques or any other place of worship.
If you would like to me to assist you in getting hold of these boxes, please get in touch.
If any of these ideas have convinced you that you’re able to go out there, raise money and contribute toward the pledge I’ve made, please get in touch. I can be contacted on: firstname.lastname@example.org, and can be found on twitter @TubaMazhari
Jazakallah for reading through the entirety of my ramblings.