The Covid-19 pandemic has led this country and the world into unprecedented times. People are scared, the world economy has taken a major hit, and concern for our loved ones, our neighbours and ourselves can feel crippling.
Today, millions are bonded by a shared pain: the fear, the uncertainty and the loss in our sense of security. From individuals and families, to businesses and charities – the future feels as though it has a big looming question mark surrounding it.
We have no choice but to search for the faith, hope and strength to carry on. Throughout the country, volunteer groups made up of selfless people across different communities are jumping into action. This is a testament to how, in times of crisis, we pull together to support each other.
Charitable organisations have also been working against the clock, coordinating emergency responses to protect the most vulnerable. Yet charities, too, are vulnerable.
We've been stopped in our tracks
The coronavirus has stopped all charities in our tracks, disrupting our future plans, and derailing many of our lifesaving fundraising projects. The timing of this crisis especially adds to the anxiety of Muslim charities. We are, at the time of writing, just one month away from the holy month of Ramadan.
Ramadan is a month of fasting and charity, dedicated to self-reflection. Through this reflection, we aim to be better than we are now, understand the struggles of others around the world and have humility about our own lives. With the closure of mosques, Ramadan services will be likely to be suspended, for the first time in living memory. Data shows that the Muslim community continues to be the most generous in their donations to charitable causes, particularly during the month of Ramadan.
In 2018, the Muslim Charities Forum reported that Muslim humanitarian agencies raised in the region of £130m in Ramadan, which amounts up to 35% of their annual income. Due to the impact of Covid-19, mosques and domestic charities are expected to lose large amounts of their revenue.
Muslim community is expected to be hit hard
There is an expectation that Covid-19 will hit the Muslim community particularly hard both in regards to health and finances, with many Muslims employed in effected trades such as the taxi and hospitality sector. Muslims are also more likely to live in multi-generational households, adding to the risk of the spread of Covid-19 to elderly or immunosuppressed members of the family.
To rely on the Muslim community to form the backbone for the survival of the Muslim charity sector in this period of crisis is unjust. They, as well as millions of people from other communities across the UK, are in dire need of our full support – they are not able to support our survival when they are trying to find ways of surviving themselves.
We face the loss of several charities
The harsh reality is that, without the levels of donations Muslim charities usually receive during Ramadan and with the added costs of forming emergency responses to this global health crisis, the sector will likely face the loss of several charities doing truly groundbreaking and essential work both here in the UK and internationally.
We simply cannot allow this to happen. Now is the time for more government intervention and support, now it is time for philanthropists and charitable foundation to extend a helping hand, if we are going to effectively protect and support the most vulnerable people in the UK and beyond, during this virus, then we need to be able to expand our capacity.
We have to survive
Muslim agencies have a large pool of active volunteers and huge experience and expertise of operating in times of emergencies, often in unwelcome circumstances. They have a major role to play in responding to this crisis here in the UK utilising their wealth of experience to support government efforts in limiting the impact of Covid-19.
Charities, like with most industries, don’t just want to survive this pandemic – they need to. Everyday counts and the fate of so many millions in the UK and across the world sadly relies on the survival of the sector. However, this cannot be done in isolation.
Now is the time for a collective, united approach for the benefit of us all. We need the support in order to be an effective support. When we work together, we can overcome.
Fadi Itani is chief executive of the Muslim Charities Forum