Hear What Participants Are Saying About Ramadan Tent Project!

One of Ramadan Tent Project’s keen supporters and attendees – SOAS student James – interviewed other Ramadan Tent Project attendees to get their perspective on Ramadan and Ramadan Tent Project. We are so thrilled to see people meeting each other and getting involved in the Ramadan Tent Project community!


Reflections on the Ramadan Tent Experience

By James Appleby

After the communal meal has finished at the Ramadan Tent Project, not many people rush off home. During the meal, people make ample conversation and therefore usually stay around the gardens chatting for a good while afterwards. This community spirit that the Ramadan Tent Project has fostered was a good chance for me to interview a couple of students of differing backgrounds to ascertain what they made of the cause.

Firstly, I spoke to Naima, a former SOAS student from London, born to Somali parents:


Naima – I am a supporter since last year’s tent. It’s amazing to see how the project has developed and gained exposure, and I love to sample the atmosphere among friends.

James – Do you think that the tent is something that benefits the UK, a nation where Islam is [one of] the largest[s] religion[s]…?

Naima – What must be remembered is how unique the project is … Community events happen in every country in the world – but what is important about this project is that it brings people together in the same space regardless of faith, including the homeless. That is the true spirit of Ramadan and what makes it unique.

Offering free food is bound to attract people, but what really encourages dialogue and interaction is that people are obliged to sit together on the ground – a very communal setting. Every day I come here, I sit with people from all corners of the world, and of all walks of life.


The Ramadan Tent Project prides itself on being open to all people of all faiths, and all walks of life. Being ideally placed right near a cluster of internationally-recognised universities in London, it is clear that the communal spirit of Ramadan is able to be spread across the world. To gain a non-Muslim’s perspective on the project, I spoke to German SOAS postgraduate student Rudolph.

Rudolph – I think it is a really nice way of showcasing Islam…. It is a great example of community spirit, people coming together and making friends regardless of their backgrounds – and on top of everything, the food is really nice!

James – What about the atmosphere of the tent itself?

Rudolph – Sitting in the park is really such a relaxing setting – and the best thing of all is just meeting and speaking with people who are all new, different and interesting. The volunteers work tirelessly to the point where you feel guilty that they aren’t all sitting down and relaxing themselves. They always selflessly ensure that everyone else is having a good time. It was so nice that I brought my friend along, to come the day after I first attended.

James – What did she think?

Rudolph – Her first thoughts were that she wanted things like these to happen across the UK. She’s from Birmingham, a relatively multi-cultural area of the UK, yet she didn’t know of anything like this project before. She also praised the efforts of the volunteers and loved that this was something open to all faiths.

I remember being invited to Iftar by a Muslim family in Germany when I was younger, and I was humbled by the culture of sharing. This is absolutely something I’d like to see more of….


As a teenager having grown up in the statistically least ethnically diverse place in the UK, I wholeheartedly share Naima and Rudolph’s sentiments. I am convinced that projects such as Ramadan Tent Project are what is needed to bring divided and fearful communities together, allowing for tolerance and friendships to blossom.

My pride and gratitude is with all of the organisers and volunteers who make the project possible, and I will continue to support it – as it hopefully goes global!

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A Heartfelt Message from a Ramadan Tent Project Volunteer

Written by Leyla

As the blessed month approached, I began flicking through various projects that would take place during Ramadan, and like every Ramadan, I aimed to replace a bad habit with a good one. Scanning my actions throughout the year I left behind, it struck me that I have neglected the people around me, my community. I wanted to put all my energy into achieving that top grade, specialise in a field I feel most passionate about, but to what extent was I ready to ignore the fact that something was missing?

The community is the pillar of solidarity. The community is where we learn life, where people from all walks come together for one cause, where the one thing we have in common brings us together regardless of our skin colour. It is where ‘I’ becomes ‘We’.

And so the Ramadan Tent Project it was. My journey at the Tent began with Surah Al Asr- a surah which has particular importance to me, a surah that has never failed to strike me as every syllabus is uttered. The founder of Ramadan Tent Project began the volunteer’s induction with these very words;

(1)   By Time

(2)   Indeed, mankind is in loss

(3)   Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience.

– Surah Al-Asr, Quran 103

“Discover the Community Spirit” – Here there is no You and I, it is We, simply We. The past week in which I have spent at the Tent has by far proved itself to be the best way in which I have spent Ramadan. Everyday, after the hustle and bustle, the excitement to meet and greet our guests, as the time comes for us to break our fast, I stop and look around.

I see the community, I see everyone on the ground with their hands raised in prayer; the mother, the child, the homeless, the doctor, the young and the old, sitting together, amongst those who believed in the spirit of Ramadan.

I found myself surrounded by those who advised us to patience and righteousness.

Last night, I prayed that God would lift us out of the times we spent carried away in doings that could not replace this feeling that quenched my heart here at the tent. I prayed that everyone will one day Discover the Community Spirit the way we have.

The Powerful Symbolism in the Ramadan Tent Project Logo

The Ramadan Tent Project logo was thoughtfully crafted to encompass the objectives of Ramadan Tent Project, which are to:

* Cater for the homeless and individuals in need, through the provision of food and beverages during the month of Ramadan. In addition to providing a social space for interaction and fostering social bonds between people from all walks of life.

* Provide Muslims with a platform to engage with individuals and other communities to discuss their faith and combat stereotypes.

* Bringing together international and UK students to enjoy a festive and a harmonious Ramadan.

If you look closely, you will notice that there are twenty-nine shapes in the tent because there are twenty-nine days during the month of Ramadan, with the crescent added as a completion of the start and end of Ramadan, totalling thirty days.

Each piece of the tent varies slightly in shape, size, and shade to complete a beautiful picture. This represents the Ramadan Tent Project community, comprised of numerous cultures, nationalities, and unique individuals. Together, each person helps construct the enriching community spirit.

Additionally, there are seven layers in the tent logo, symbolizing the seven heavens spoken of in the Quran (see Quran 17:44, 65:12, 71:15). The three sides of the tent represent Islam, Ihsan and Imaan. Islam, a religion of peace; Ihsan, the idea of showing faith through good deeds and actions; and Imaan, a concept of faith. The logo, like Ramadan, is both simple as well as intricately significant when you look a little further into what it really means.

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What Makes the Community Spirit at Ramadan Tent Project so Special? Volunteers Share Their Most Meaningful Experiences.

Heidi Green


Every evening volunteers gather at Ramadan Tent Project and prepare to serve iftar to hundreds of people. “We renew our intentions everyday,” founder Omar Salha reminds the volunteers at their meeting. This year over 1,100 guests have attended Ramadan Tent Project in the first week – with each valued participant helping to create a treasured network of friends and community. Many of those 1,100 individuals have stories to tell about how they have been involved in Ramadan Tent Project. Here, three volunteers share how Ramadan Tent Project has been an uplifting experience in their lives.


Moonthaha

“Sometimes you kind of feel as if you’re running out of time, so to speak, with Ramadan, and then when you know you have Ramadan Tent in the evening, not only do you come back to your family, but also its like a form of Ibadah, you know? Like worship, where you come and you’re in the service of others. So if you feel like you haven’t used your day as productively as possible, you come here and you enjoy yourself so much, and its comforting to know that what you’re doing is actually in the service of God.”


Sara

“I think my favourite part was experiencing the first day … my first day of Ramadan in the tent, outside, and seeing how everybody gets together, and how we help prepare the food initially – the fruit and the dates, and then we prepare the desserts and then the food comes.

At the beginning it is such a team spirit and everyone is involved … So when the food comes and people come and guests arrive and they roll out the [prayer] mat, its such a humbling experience to be part of just witnessing that – the community spirit.

I just started this year and I just met these two [girls] last week, and I feel like we’ve known each other for so long, … and the other brothers I haven’t known them that long but I just feel like we’re such a tight knit family and it really impacts how we give service.”


Hager

“I feel like they’re my family. Honestly. Last year I kind of just happened upon Ramadan Tent because [my roommate] was involved in it, and she invited me to come along.

The first day was amazing, I just felt the spirit straight away, then I got kind of adopted in the community and then it just kind of went from there. And honestly, if it wasn’t for Ramadan Tent last year… I had labs from nine am to six pm, and I was writing my dissertation at the same time and basically what got me through the day was, I’d come back and feel like, Ramadan Tent is amazing!

I went to Dubai and came back this year, and still kept in touch with everyone. Basically, literally, do you do know what ‘Hub Fillah’ means? [Loving someone for the sake of God]. I understand that now, I can apply it now. That clicked with the Ramadan Tent family … I know people throw around the word ‘family’ but like, I actually mean family.

Don’t you feel like your experience with Ramadan Tent, when you go, transitions into the rest of your day as well?”


Whether you are a volunteer, or a valued participant in Ramadan Tent Project, we hope that you have also felt Hub Fillah at Ramadan Tent Project. We want to hear about your most meaningful experiences at Ramadan Tent Project. Make sure to comment, or contact us to share your story! Please continue to enjoy your Ramadan and come experience the community spirit at Ramadan Tent Project. Together, we can strengthen each other.

Julian Bond Calls for People of All Faiths to Join in Fasting this Ramadan

Julian Bond is the Director of the Christian Muslim Forum and an acclaimed speaker. Being a Christian, Julian encourages non-Muslims to join in Ramadan and fasting as well. “Ramadan is a very important time,” he says. “…its a great opportunity to find out a bit about Islam … get to know British Muslims, and have a British Ramadan.”

Julian highlights some of the benefits of fasting and says that people of any faith should fast, “…to get some kind of insight to the experience of fasting, and of the sense of focus that comes through not being distracted … and of all the other changes that come with not doing the things that you take for granted everyday like, going to make a cup of tea, reaching for a glass of water…. and to spend some extra time in prayer.”

Julian explains that if we get the “heart” of religion, people would not associate Muslims and Christians in a negative way, but would realize that both communities are “…praying for blessings on each other,” and on the community and city of London.

Julian calls for people to tweet about peace and, “Think about how you can be a peaceful person to your neighbour, whatever faith they may be, and to show the love and the peace that should come through the practice of Ramadan.” #RamadanPeace

Ramadan Tent Project has helped many non-Muslims learn more about Islam. It is a great time for Muslims to share their beliefs with others. The community spirit is a perfect setting for people to learn more about faith, prayer, fasting, and people.

If you missed hearing Julian Bond speak at Ramadan Tent Project, you can watch the recording on Ramadan Tent Project’s YouTube channel, and hear about Julian’s “deep and intense experience” spending 2 days in a mosque, listening to a reciting of the Quran.

Don’t miss out on the next speaker at Ramadan Tent Project! All are welcome to join in iftar at the Malet Street Gardens each night during the month of Ramadan and hear inspiring messages from highly acclaimed speakers.

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