“Ramadan Mubarak” – these were the words echoed by speaker after speaker, as Islamic Relief and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office celebrated the start of this holy month.
The reception and iftar dinner, held at the Institute of Directors in London on 26th July, was made even more special by an exciting announcement from Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development.
“We are delighted that the Government will be matching, pound for pound, public donations to the Islamic Relief Ramadan appeal, up to a total of £5 million,” said Mr Mitchell.
The new funding will come from the UK Aid Match scheme, recognising the quality of the work Islamic Relief does in alleviating poverty.
The funding will support Islamic Relief’s work in countries as diverse as Niger, Yemen and Pakistan – helping communities survive natural disasters like drought and floods, and providing food, clean water and a stable income for thousands of people, year after year.
No-one is more proud of the work the charity carries out globally than the CEO, Dr Ashmawey, who spoke passionately of its vision:
“We want to lift people out of poverty, so that one day they become the donors rather than the recipients of help.”
This goal was captured in the footage of Islamic Relief’s work which moved the whole audience; in particular, the story of widowed Tahirun in Bangladesh.
Thanks to Islamic Relief, she went from begging door-to-door with her children, to managing a field of crops with 30 other women. Now she earns enough income to not only support her family, but to also give to others in charity.
Of course, none of the work showcased by the footage – from prenatal clinics in Palestine, to support for children orphaned by tsunamis in Indonesia – would be possible without the generous support and donations from the UK public.
Alistair Burt, Foreign Office Minister, commended this spirit of giving, especially during this blessed month: “I am struck by the generosity of the British Muslim community, particularly during Ramadan.”
There was just time before the day’s fast was complete to enjoy entertainment from singer Saif Adam, and hear words of praise from two more prominent supporters of Islamic Relief.
Reverend Rachel Carnegie, on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury, congratulated the charity on being an “outstanding faith-inspired organisation”, while Labour MP Rushanara Ali proudly spoke of the “wonderful history” and “great activism” of Islamic Relief.
As Sheikh Yaqoub from Cardiff rounded off the evening’s speeches with a sincere prayer for all, and preparations were made for the delicious evening meal, there was a tangible sense in the air that this Ramadan is going to be a particularly special and blessed one – for all those present and, most importantly, for those in need around the world being helped by Islamic Relief.