LONDON – With events organized across British cities and universities, organizers of Islam Awareness Week, launched earlier in March, hope to spark insight and understanding of Muslim efforts to alleviate suffering in the society and present a true image of their faith.
"Britain as a society is suffering financially … many families have been forced to rely on food banks and charitable organizations to make ends meet and this is why we need as a society to be promoting charity,” Summer Shah a young Muslim activist from Croydon, told OnIslam.net.
Shah, one of the attendants at London’s opening ceremony last Monday, March 17, was thrilled by the Islamic Society of Britain decision to speak of charity this week.
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“British Muslims have a social responsibility to uphold, not only toward our kin but toward Britain,” she said.
“Islamic Awareness Week will I hope help build those bridges.”
Hosted by the Islamic Society of Britain (ISB), a not-forp-rofit organization, Islam Awareness Week opened doors last Monday at the prestigious JW3, the Jewish Arts, Culture and Community Centre in London.
Opening under the theme, Charity Begins At Home, the event focuses on the concept of charity and what it means in Islam.
In its 21st anniversary, it will focus on social action, showcasing some projects led by Muslims around the country.
The theme was picked as a trial by ISB to promote values of social responsibility and solidarity.
With events organized across 12 cities and Universities in the UK, Islam Awareness Week has become a national event celebrated by activists, politicians and religious scholars across the board, a true coming together of a people.
Julie Siddiqi, one the organizers and Executive Director of ISB, said she expected Islamic Awareness Week would help bring Britain’s many communities closer by focusing on values of respect, tolerance and togetherness.
Islamic Society of Britain initiated Islam Awareness Week (IAW) in 1994, to raise awareness and remove misconceptions surrounding Britain’s second largest faith group.
IAW has been taking place in many towns and cities across the UK and since the year 2000, a theme has been chosen which highlights an issue which is of common concern across communities.
Message of Unity
At the opening ceremony, Hifsa Iqbal, a British Muslim activist and community leader, England opened the festivities with a powerful speech on the connections charity makes amongst people.
“Two nations between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are ignorant of each other’s habits, thoughts and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones or inhabitants of different planets; who are formed by different breeding, are fed by different food, are ordered by different manners, and are not governed by the same laws … THE RICH AND THE POOR;” keen to underscore the universality and time relevance of the issue of poverty and thus charity, Iqbal said, quoting Benjamin Disraeli’s novel Sybil.
Iqbal, MBE and Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire Stafford, has also highlighted the magic work of charity in enabling societies to overcome hardships.
“You never really understand a person until you consider things from their point of view – until you climb into their skin and walk around in it,” she told attendants.
“Imagine not having the means to feed your child breakfast before they go to school – or put any food on the table when they come home in the evening?”
For some non-Muslim attendants, the message of the event changed their perspective on Islam and Muslims after witnessing a first-hand experience with ISB outreach program.
“I had no idea British Muslims were so involved in helping others … and only Muslims, I mean everyone,” Rachel Watkins, a London student who came to the event with her friends from University out of curiosity, told OnIslam.
“And indeed, ISB endeavours to promote charity as a universal value regardless of a person faith or origin,” she added.
Britain is home to a Muslim community of nearly 2.7 million.
According to Islamic Shari`ah, a capable Muslim pays 2.5 percent mandatory payment and spend it to help the poor and the needy.
Last July, a survey by JustGiving charity website has found that Muslims top charity givers in the UK, compared with other faiths.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net - Read full article here
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