Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A New Take on Feeding the Hungry

We've got soup kitchens, humanitarian days and social iftars galore. It seems though that the Muslims in the UK have come up with a new method of feeding the hungry: the flash mob iftar!
Young Muslims have been coming to the park each Tuesday during the fasting month of Ramadan, laden with chicken biryani, samosas and cakes, which they have distributed to homeless people.

It is the brainchild of 27-year-old Miqdad Asaria, who has dubbed the events "flashmob iftars". An iftar is the evening meal that marks the end of the daily fast and is traditionally eaten with friends or family.
"During Ramadan we Muslims get a glimpse of what it is like to be hungry," says Asaria. "I thought, 'What better time to share our food with those who are hungry all year?' I wanted to make the point that Muslims shouldn't only be looking overseas when they think about problems - there are plenty of problems in this country." He set up a Facebook page and arranged the first flashmob iftar two weeks ago. A hundred young Muslims turned up. The following week, attendance was more than 150 and footage of the iftar was uploaded on to YouTube.

"The homeless people were quite taken aback," says Asaria. "They're used to having food thrown out to them from the back of a van, but for us it was about sharing what we had and getting to know those we were eating with."

When I joined the flashmob last week I could see 30 Muslims kneeling in prayer in one corner of the park while elsewhere a group of women in hijabs and headscarves were offering pakoras to an elderly woman propping herself up with a walking stick.

Asaria has been approached by Indian restaurants that want to take the idea further, but he says the appeal of the flashmob iftar is its lack of organisation. "The Muslims who turn up don't know each other, so this is a social thing for them too. It's an example of taking something inspired by our values and using it to embrace the wider community."
Source: The Guardian

It's not charity as we know it. There are no rich or poor, there is no corporate branding, there is no hidden agenda. Just a mass of hungry people, all of whom have struggled through the day without food. Eating together. Sharing a meal as equals. Talking as friends.

Its about eating together not feeding the other ... dignity not sympathy.

We've got a few days left - go ahead, try organizing a flash mob iftar of your own. What have you got to lose, a pakora?

1 comment:

Huda Shaka` said...

What a wonderfully refreshing idea!