Charities warn half of British Muslims will struggle to eat during Ramadan

Charities warn half of British Muslims will struggle to eat during Ramadan
Short Url
Updated 02 April 2022

Charities warn half of British Muslims will struggle to eat during Ramadan

Charities warn half of British Muslims will struggle to eat during Ramadan
  • About 50% of UK’s 3.37m Muslims live in poverty, opposed to 18% of general population
  • Expert tells Muslims to give zakat payments to needy people within their communities

LONDON: A charity has warned that as many as half of Muslims living in the UK will struggle to feed their families during Ramadan.

Islamic Relief said it and other groups had seen an uptick in food bank use since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had been exacerbated by the subsequent increase in the cost of living.

The additional cost of living to the average family in the UK is expected to reach around £1,000 ($1,311) in 2022, according to research from the Resolution Foundation.

On Friday, UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “While no government can control the global factors pushing up the cost of everyday essentials, we will absolutely act wherever we can to mitigate rising costs.”

It estimated, meanwhile, that around 1.6 million Muslims live in poverty in the world’s fifth-largest economy, compared to 18 percent of the general population.

“Families across the UK will be suffering as a result of record rates of inflation as well as increasing energy prices due to the war in Ukraine,” said Tufail Hussain, director of Islamic Relief UK.

“We urgently call on the UK government to … take the bold actions necessary to avoid pushing families into destitution. This is especially important as Muslim families begin to observe the holy month of Ramadan.

“Many will be fasting from sunrise to sunset and there is a real risk that families will not have enough food or will go without to feed their children,” he added.

UK broadcaster Sky News interviewed mother-of-three Bushra Begum, from east London, who said her home, which shares a kitchen and bathroom with other families, was infested with rats and didn’t have working heating.

“They (the rats) come in during the night. Not just one, two or three. I have no choice but to stay here, rent is so high,” she said.

“Sometimes my children want to use the bathroom but they have to keep waiting because other people are using it.

“Even here, we give my husband’s entire salary to cover the rent for just this single room, and now they are increasing the bills for electricity. It has become so difficult.”

Fahim Dahya, logistics manager at Sufra NW10 food bank in London, told Sky News: “The bills are not going to hit until the end of this month, so we are bracing ourselves for a big explosion.

“After the pandemic hit, within a couple of months, we had a 400 percent increase (in users). It used to be a calming experience — people would come, get some food, have a chat. We’d talk to them and find out about their situation, try to offer help. Now, they’re just feeling anxiety and uncertainty,” he added.

One expert has asked British Muslims to give their zakat payments to the needy within their own communities this Ramadan.

Sohail Hanif, chief executive of the UK’s National Zakat Foundation, said: “One of the key things is that zakat should be spent within the area where you live.

“Within the UK there are a lot of families struggling. We’re really seeing it now.”