Sameea Jonnud, Aldershot
At a Humanity First fundraising dinner recently I found myself in a sell-out hall full of people who had paid a ticket price, were bidding in an auction and leaving donations in envelopes when they left. It felt good to be part of this cheerful atmosphere and led me to reflect on the past.
Many years ago fictional character Gordon Gekko uttered the words “greed is good” and these words have stuck in the memory as a defining phrase of 1980s when I was growing up. It was a time when people were encouraged to make money and spend lavishly, a time when the rich just got richer. Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister, a strong woman in a man’s world, but never thought of as caring.
What about caring for others? When the Ethiopian famine happened in 1980s people felt good about raising money to help the starving but it is rather sad that caring acts other than that do not register in my memory.
Now, as my own children grow up I am thankful that helping those in need has become a more common occurrence with regular events like Children in Need, Comic Relief and various disaster funds every time the need arises. Recently there were reports of charitable donations to solve climate change pledged by several billionaires. Bill and Melinda Gates are well known to have given an enormous amount of their wealth to eradicating disease in the Third World and others have followed suit including Warren Buffet who once said:
“If you’re in the luckiest 1% of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99%”
Women are also among the ranks of charity donators and although recognised to a much lesser extent than men as they grow more independently wealthy they are donating to charity a lot more.
It is interesting that we are seeing these more visible charitable donations now; is it because people are beginning to care more about the problems in the world?
In Islam giving is of tremendous significance. The Quran states:
‘Never shall you attain to righteousness unless you spend out of that which you love; and whatever you spend, Allah surely knows it well.’ (3:93)
Helping the needy and donating to charity is something that is and always has been a part of Islam; indeed one of the five pillars of Islam is ‘Zakat’, giving a portion of your monetary assets to the poor and needy. In addition Muslims give money to the needy in the form of ‘Sadaqa’ (alms) regularly at times of difficulty and times of celebration.
Within the Ahmadiyya Muslim community charity and giving money to help the needy is something that is carried out with the same zeal by women as well as men leading to some inspiring stories.
The Fazl Mosque, the first mosque built in London in 1926, was built entirely from donations by Ahmadi women of Qadian; some took off gold they were wearing and donated it. These were women of meagre means who had no physical connection with a proposed mosque in a far-away land. Yet they gave selflessly. The Khadijah mosque in Berlin, built relatively recently in 2008, is another funded by Ahmadi Muslim women.
In other monetary schemes Ahmadi women have also shown themselves at the forefront; a recent women’s fundraising dinner to benefit Humanity First raised over £100,000 to build water wells in the dry Tharpakur region of Pakistan.
As well as money countless women sacrifice their time to help others. In the words of Khalil Gibran:
“It is when you give of yourself that you truly give”
These women that selflessly help the needy are not all high powered or particularly wealthy women; some are not at all well off. They are just ordinary women who are inspired to help those in need and wish to please their Creator.
And they are truly inspirational women.