According to 2015 Government statistics, 3,569 people slept rough on any one night across England – this is over double the number counted in 2010. In London, there is more than 7,500 homeless people – a number that has almost doubled in the past 5 years. Moreover, homeless people are the most vulnerable and socially excluded people in society.
On Sunday 20th March 2016, Innovative Muslim Minds (IMM) in conjunction with Children of Adam and Mitsvah 365 came together to organise an event dedicated to feeding the homeless. IMM participated in this event out of a sense of duty to help our brethren in humanity.
Islam teaches us to all hasten to do good deeds, as the Holy Quran States:
[Shakir translation, Quran 2:148] “And everyone has a direction to which he should turn, therefore hasten to (do) good works; wherever you are, Allah will bring you all together; surely Allah has power over all things.”
We are reminded numerous times in many Quranic verses to always hasten to do good deeds and be at the forefront of charitable acts. Interestingly the language used in the Quran to encourage the doing of such deeds is always in the plural pronoun and not singular, indicating that it is a characteristic for all of society to adopt and that we should all work together and hasten towards initiatives for good deeds.
I arrived early (hard to believe for those who know me!) given that this was an event that held strong significance for me. I was actually quite anxious, but as soon as I arrived I was pleasantly surprised to see the number of volunteers who had turned up. The queues started forming around the Lincoln’s Inn Fields around 4:30pm. My first impressions of our guests was their friendliness and patience; standing in an organised line waiting for us to set up. Having just come back from Iraq where people’s idea of queuing is based on pushing and shoving their way to the front, it was refreshing watching them stand in an orderly line chatting with each other.
We started the event by preparing bags containing ‘essentials’ such as deodorant, gloves, socks, water, a toothbrush and toothpaste as well as sanitary items. We handed these out together with biscuits and chocolate; it almost felt like we had lifted some of the burden off their shoulders for a few hours.
One lesson that I really took home from this experience was how giving back to society and helping people felt amazing and fulfilling. What we did was nothing in the grand scheme of things and the 2 hours seemed like 20 minutes only. I felt privileged to be able to do something for someone else without expecting anything in return; it also illustrated how we can all take small steps to help. Furthermore, it reminded me to be grateful for every little thing I have.
This one old homeless man on crutches was so dignified. Once the food ran out, he declined the offer from one of our committee members to take him to a store for food. It was such humility and a humbling experience from a man in his situation. Yet we so easily judge and label each other without really knowing. I realised now that this work is a duty; to break the barriers and help a society that has given me so much opportunity, and to help who we can, while we can, as the Quranic verse at the beginning of this article reminds us.
Finally, I want to thank all those who made this event possible and really look forward to helping out in the future.
Written by Jaffar Al-Saraj
 Crisis.org.uk website, accessed on 16.5.2016, http://www.crisis.org.uk/pages/homeless-def-numbers.html