Ramadan donations funded honeybee farms in Pakistan in 2016. Credit: Charity Commission.
Last summer, a notoriously unpleasant red-top columnist wrote of his objection to a female Muslim journalist covering the recent Nice terror attack. In an effort to redress the damaging impact of his comment, a woman in Wales tweeted out the kind of information that’s often ignored amidst the clatter of online discourse:
“UK Muslims gave £100 million to charity during Ramadan this year. That’s £38 a second. The media won’t report it so here it is. Thank you.”
While the tweet has since been deleted, the numers it states are no less true. According to figures received by the Charity Commision, British Muslims were, in fact, estimated to have given approximately £100 million to charity during Ramadan 2016.
The numbers represent an aspect of Ramadan that’s often overshadowed. Most non-Muslims probably associate the month with fasting, yet charity is an equally important part of Ramadan. Last year, the Charity Commision spoke to the Muslim Charities Forum about the nature of the giving in 2016.
The donations were as varied as they were generous. One Muslim-led charity estimated its work over last Ramadan to have helped at least one million people. Other efforts helped those suffering drought in Somaliland and conflict in Syria. There were also local, community focused acts, including soup kitchens for the homeless and aid for those affected by last year’s floods in Carlisle.
Nick Donaldson, an outreach manager at the Charity Commision, also highlighted the diversity of the projects donated to. These included honeybee farms in Palestine, hygiene kits and food for the people of Haiti, and a charity in Mali turning water from flash floods into safe drinking water. ‘As with so much of the best charitable work,’ Donaldson wrote, ‘the focus was on sustainability: not just on helping those in need directly but providing them with the knowledge, skills and means to continue to support themselves.’
With projects like this receiving support, the long term impact of last year’s giving will resonate for years to come. Given recent history, donations made during Ramadan 2017 will be similar or in excess of those past. As in 2016, both Ramadan 2013 and 2014 saw donations estimated in the region of £100 million.
According to Third Sector, these numbers don’t account for money donated to local mosques or non-Muslim charities. So even if the media do – as the above tweet disputes – report the amount Muslims give to charity during Ramadan, it is likely to be a conservative figure.