Ramadan is a time to reflect and help out
Feeling lonely. Sleeping rough. Not enough food to eat, no one to turn to and little hope for the future. This is nothing new for far too many people right here in Leicestershire. Some of us may have spotted those who are in need of care, support and attention. Sadly all too often we might feel a sense of loneliness ourselves too. A tragic marker of modern day life for some can mean that they just don't have enough time to talk to one another. People are feeling increasingly isolated and in need; this is particularly troubling in the case of vulnerable people.
My life has included a few changes over the past week, spending the day trying to think of others more often, keeping an eye out for things I can to help and volunteering to support those in need are all ways in which I am observing Ramadan - the month of fasting.
Abstaining from food and drink between sunrise and sunset is a small part of this special month, while fasting Muslims are strongly encouraged to do more for others such as helping their neighbours, sharing their time and reflecting on what they have in order to be grateful.
What I enjoy especially about this month is that we are urged to give generously to others to try to deal with issues such as poverty and loneliness.
It's not all that unusual for many of us to volunteer for a local charity or make a donation to a good cause, we may even sponsor a worthy initiative. But sometimes we need a bit of motivation to begin a good deed and for me the greatest inspiration comes from the teachings in Islam about this special month (and beyond).
So with this in mind I am leading a small campaign for the Islamic Society of Britain that helps to raise money for four mainstream UKL charities. Raising awarneness (and funds!) of the good work these charities do means that I am able to share in the good, my faith encourages me to be compassionate to everyone.
The aim is to encourage Muslims across the UK to help these charities - our charities - just as though they would help their own loved ones because this is the essence of true giving.
Good deeds are the new currency. This is why a project called Eat'n'Meet run by the same organisation orks every Saturday to give those in need some shelter, food and a cuppa over conversation.
These are not expensive or difficult things to share - but they can be in short supply. No one should feel that absolute sense of loneliness or poverty. Ramadan is a reminder for us to think of others before ourselves.
Sughra Ahmed is Leicester Branch President of the Islamic Society of Britain (and a Director of Leicester Council of Faiths)