London Muslims Donate 10 Tons Of Food To Homeless For Christmas

Thousands of Muslims in London, England, have come together to donate over 10 tons of food (about 11 American tons) intended to feed the homeless over the Christmas season, according to a report from The Telegraph. The food was collected at the East London Mosque, whose Executive Director, Dilowar Khan, called it “heartwarming.”

“It was heartwarming to see so many people bringing food to the Mosque and a good sign of our common humanity. We need to build on this and make sure that we support those less fortunate all year round.”

The drive was organized by Muslim Aid, a “faith-based British humanitarian charity” aimed at eliminating poverty and providing emergency relief; their slogan is “Serving Humanity.” Jehangir Malik, Chief Executive of Muslim Aid, said that “With austerity cuts and the housing crisis, more and more people are ending up on the streets – destitute.”

“We, as a Muslim charity, want to do everything we can to help the most vulnerable people in this country this Christmas, regardless of faith or background.”

“Helping those in need is one of the five pillars of Islam and as temperatures plummet we need to do everything we can to protect those most at risk.”

The collected food will be given to another charity, Crisis, specifically focused on the United Kingdom’s homeless for distribution. They estimate that more than 90 percent of the collected food will go to non-Muslims.

The Independent estimates that some 7,500 London Muslims attended the food drive on Friday, following prayers.

Rev. Gary Bradley, the vicar of Little Venice, called the food drive an example of “all faiths working together for a common humanity.” He and numerous other local religious leaders from a variety of faiths attended the drive to show support. The London East Academy also participated in the drive, donating several boxes of food.

Through Crisis, that food will now be distributed amongst London’s homeless, both through Crisis locations and to homeless Londoners living on the streets.

The East London Mosque’s Chief Imam, Shaykh Abdul Qayum, said that “Muslims are inspired by their faith towards helping others in need. It is a religious duty for Muslims to try to help others, irrespective of a person’s faith or background…. In the cold winter months when we have the luxury of a home and hot food, it’s easy to forget about others that are in dire need around us. So it is in that spirit we take part in this big food drive.”

“This compassion is truly reflective of what Islam stands for.”

Homelessness in the U.K., and London especially, has been rising at an “unprecedented” rate over the last several years. The British government estimates that some 3,500 people sleep on the streets on any given night – streets which have been dropping below -18°C (or just below 0°F) overnight, in more than 80 percent humidity and moderate winds. According to Business Insider, frostbite can set in under those conditions in under half an hour.

Experts have also warned of a phenomenon called “hidden homelessness,” which they say causes homelessness rates to be underestimated due to many people who simply don’t appear to be the stereotypical homeless person, or those living in unstable or temporary accommodations. They point out that recent figures indicate almost 70,000 people living in temporary accommodations like hostels and B&Bs between July and September, the highest that number has been since the financial crisis of 2008.

Meanwhile, as food from Muslim donors is carried to London’s homeless by a group of people of all faiths and no faith, Reverend Bernadette Hegarty of St. Pauls, Bow Common Church, may have said it best.

“Giving is an important part of both the Christian and Islam faith and it is important for us to be working together to do what we can to support our brothers and sisters.”

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