Students at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London offered free meals during Muslim holy month
London – Arab Today
An initiative by students at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London to reach out to the community during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan reached over 4000 people.
An average 150 people, Muslim and non-Muslim, visited the student-led Ramadan Tent each day to participate in Iftar, the breaking of the fast at sunset.
SOAS masters graduate Omar Salha, who led the project, said: “I can gladly say that engaging with the wider community, Muslims and non-Muslims, we were able to provide an insight and platform for the general public to learn about the Islamic faith and Ramadan.
“It has been a truly magical, emotional and inspirational month. It has been an honour, a privilege and a pleasure serving you all and meeting so many wonderful people.
Among the Londoners who came to share the evening meal were homeless people from the St Mungo’s hostels.
\"Some residents from St Mungo\'s saw our advert in their residence and came,\" Salha told the Huffington Post, adding that he was keen to reach out to ostracised groups.
\"They were reluctant to say who they were at the beginning, but later said they were happy that there are still people reaching out to them.\"
The postgraduate continued: \"The support and gratitude from our guests, volunteers, various commentators and donors has been astounding. The purpose of Ramadan Tent is to understand and appreciate the importance of charity and remembering those less fortunate than us; to join in the practise of sharing and caring and charitable duties towards our family, our local community and our nation.
\"To invite the homeless and the poor and not turn them away, even if all we can give is half a date; to say a good word, to smile, to safeguard our environment and pick up rubbish and above all else to keep peace and good relations between people.\"
The initiative received extensive media coverage and widespread attention from high profile figures from within the Islamic community.
Speakers addressing the tent included political journalist Mehdi Hasan, Jehangir Malik, Islamic Relief UK Director, Rabbi Natan Levy, Board of Deputies of British Jews, Kristiane Backer, former MTV presenter and Darren Cheesman, Great Britain and England Hockey International.
The scheme received coverage from BBC Radio 4, BBC News, BBC Arabic, Times Higher Education, Guardian and Huffington Post as well as international press, including Geo TV in Pakistan, Sudan Vision Daily and Islam Online.
Project leader Salha was also featured on Channel 4’s Ramadan Reflections.
Additional source: SOAS website