Charity Commission hails 'sheer scale' of fundraising by British Muslims during Ramadan

'On this month, because we are hungry, we can empathise with people who are hungry around the world,' says a Muslim leader

Jess Staufenberg
Friday 22 July 2016 13:40
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Donations from British Muslims went to causes around the world, from flood-affected areas in the UK to North America and Palestine
Donations from British Muslims went to causes around the world, from flood-affected areas in the UK to North America and Palestine

British Muslims have been praised by the Charity Commission for donating vast amounts of money to good causes.

During the holy month of Ramadan, British Muslims as a whole have donated money at a rate of £38 per second during Ramadan, or £371 per individual over the year, the Commission said.

Nick Donaldson, outreach manager at the Commission, blogged in praise of projects in the UK, Syria, Somaliland and elsewhere that had been supported during Ramadan.

"The sheer scale of the work is immediately apparent. One Muslim-led charity – not one of the largest – estimates that its work last Ramadan had helped over one million people," he said.

"Charity may begin at home, but it certainly doesn't end there. Dozens of countries were named as areas of benefit, from Europe to North America, and right around the world."

Other donations this year went to flood-affected areas in Carlisle and honey-bee farms in Palestine and Pakistan, while also funding hygiene kits and food in Haiti and "micro-dams" in Mali, which catch water from flash floods.

Previously the Charity Commission has been criticised for labelling "Islamist abuse" one of three key threats to the charity sector.

Critics said last year that William Shawcross, chairman of the Commission, had focussed "disproportionately" on the "threats" posed by Islamic charities in a speech Mr Shawcross gave on the sector.

Muslim leaders welcomed the recognition of their communities' efforts.

Muhammad Abdulbari, former secretary-general of the Muslim Council of Britain, told The Independent: "On this month, because we are hungry, we can empathise with people who are hungry around the world.

"Muslims are not supposed to be just helping themselves. The idea of neighbourhood and reaching out to other communities is important in Islam."

Central to the Islamic concept of charity is zakah, a compulsory duty within the religion to contribute 2.5 per cent of their yearly income to those in need.

Ramadan, which is regarded as a month of selflessness and spirituality, sees this duty paid particular attention.

The Qu'ran also says the Prophet Muhammad answered the question "who is my neighbour?" with "forty houses to your right and forty houses to your left." The implied lesson was that neighbourliness has no limit, said Dr Abdulbari.

Many British Muslims donated single gifts of up to £30,000 each, according to research carried out by ICM in 2013, the Charity Commission added.

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