Muslims Ask if
Charity Should Begin at Home
My experience observing Ramadan and engaging with the volunteer sector
in the United Kingdom has taught me to never hold back when there’s a
chance to help others in need.
Quite often, however, Muslims, like other individuals, are more likely
to give to those we can identify with or have some kind of connection
with, especially members of our own faith. British Muslim charities have
done some great work as a result of this generosity. Islamic Relief is
perhaps one of the largest and established Muslim charities in the
United Kingdom. It specializes in international aid and development,
working in more than 25 countries.
Ultimately, however, the connection that inspires us to give to charity
should be one of shared humanity. When we see or hear about anyone in
need, regardless of their faith or background, we should feel compassion
because they are in need, not necessarily because we share the same
belief in God.
As British Muslims, it is worth asking ourselves when we are faced with
someone raising money for the homeless here in the United Kingdom or
when we are tagged in an online campaign that seeks to help vulnerable
runaways, Does it engender the same feelings of empathy and compassion
that we would have if asked to donate to a campaign working to help only
vulnerable children of our own faith?
Perhaps we need to consider some of the campaigns that we have seen this
Ramadan. One such campaign is organized by the Islamic Society of
Britain (ISB). Established in 1990, ISB focuses on how Muslims can reach
out beyond their own faith group. For example, in order to draw
attention to projects at home, ISB partners with such organizations such
as the Children’s Society, a Christian organization that works with
youth and specializes in helping young runaways.
“Charity should begin at home,” ISB explains. “British Muslims should be
just as concerned about poverty, inequality and injustice on their
doorsteps as everywhere else in the world.”
Both organizations and faith communities value the well-being of
children. With this common interest, they teach their communities how
useful and easy it can be to work together. The collaboration can help
people to understand the issues at stake and how together they can work
to make the lives of children better, something which benefits society
as a whole.
While ISB and the Children’s Society hope to raise money, the main goal
is to help foster a desire to consider giving locally. There is
something fulfilling about donating money to projects abroad as the need
is different from that in the United Kingdom, but we shouldn’t
underestimate the difference we can make when we share what we have with
those around us—people whose need is sometimes greater for the fact that
many people don’t consider them a top priority.
During Ramadan, many Muslims try to be at their most generous, fasting
through the day as a reminder of what they have and thinking of the
needs of others. While making the decision on where to give, may we
remember that we are all part of the human family with a duty to help
all our fellow human beings.
* Sughra Ahmed is a research fellow at the Policy Research Center, a
think tank based at the Islamic Foundation in Leicestershire, England.
This article was written for the Common Ground News Service (CGNews).
Source: CGNews, Aug. 7, 2012, <www.commongroundnews.org>.
Copyright permission is granted for publication.