Ramadan, which began this week, is a month-long religious observance commemorating the revelation of the Quran to Muhammad. During this time, Muslims everywhere fast during daylight hours. Under normal circumstances, they congregate for special prayers, for pre-dawn meals known as suhur, and for sunset feasts known as iftar. Of course, due to current social distancing guidelines and the shuttering of mosques in most countries, these activities have been significantly curtailed. As Ramadan is a celebration of the communal spirit, many Muslims are struggling to come to terms with the untimely strictures of quarantine.
Acts of charity (zakat) are also an essential part of Ramadan. And, in the midst of a crisis that has caused hardship and augmented poverty for many millions of the world’s people, donations of food and essentials to the needy are all the more urgent. Here is how Muslim communities around the world are coming together.
In the wealthy and ultra-modern city of Dubai, charities typically erect large tents to feed low-income workers during Ramadan. However, this year charities in the UAE are delivering iftar parcels directly to those who are struggling to feed their families. The parcels include rice, sugar, flour, and canned goods and hygiene essentials such as sanitizers, face masks, soaps, and toothpaste. Some include prepared meals. Dar Al Ber Society, a prominent Emirati charity, is distributing 11,000 meals daily. The country has also launched a “10 Million Meals” food distribution campaign, which has drawn large contributions from business leaders and royalty.
The large Muslim community in London has mobilized to support those in need. For example, The Hujjat Mosque in the northwest of the city is providing nightly meals to about 200 households. A legion of volunteers is working with local restaurants to prepare and deliver the food. And the “Ramadan Tent Project,” which has hosted open iftar dinners in England for the past 7 years, is pivoting to provide meals to the homeless.
The Turkish Red Crescent, Turkey’s state aid agency, has distributed food aid packages to more than 1,000 Turkmen families in Kirkuk and Saladin provinces in Iraq. It will expand the service to additional locations, including Mosul, during Ramadan.
King Abdullah and Queen Rania Al Abdullah took time to speak with healthcare workers at Prince Hamzah, Queen Alia, and King Abdullah University hospitals this week. The royals are providing iftar meals to doctors, nurses, scientists and lab workers in recognition of their efforts in the battle against coronavirus.
Since 1992, Qatar Charity has provided $1.2 billion of humanitarian aid to 29 million people in the Middle East. This Ramadan, the organization aims to provide food baskets and clothing to 2.4 million people across 30 countries. The cost of the campaign is over $32 million.
The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, known as Muis, is organizing the daily delivery of 15,000 meals to Muslim healthcare workers and their families. Throughout Ramadan, food will be made available at 10 hospitals and 20 community centres across the city-state.
New York, USA
Over 20 percent of American Muslims call the Big Apple home. To celebrate Ramadan and assist those who have lost income during the crisis, New York City has announced plans to serve up more than 500,000 free halal meals. The food will be available at 435 public school sites and various soup kitchens, food pantries and community organizations.