The past few weeks have been a truly challenging month for us all here at Ramadan Tent Project. A period where all of our committee members, volunteers, speakers and guests have had to withstand fasting long hours during the summer solstice, working and being patient in a time where personal, professional and even weather conditions are against us. However with a positive attitude all that is to be expected and endured. Our holy month is precisely a test for every individual to reflect on his/her soul and go the extra mile in order to embody the compassion, benevolence and love in Islam. Unfortunately, last week we surpassed the biggest and most painful test as the death of Bashir Osman was announced to the team. Some of us knew Bashir well, some of us had spoken with Bashir briefly, many of us had heard of what a great man he was, and all of us without any exceptions, had been touched by his great charisma and unique aura. After the shocking news, we were all incredibly distraught as we had lost a dear friend, a brother, a leader and the representative of more than 100,000 Muslim students across the UK. Our Founder Omar Salha had the following to say, ‘For many of us at Ramadan Tent Project, we were first acquainted with Bashir during our 2014 Open Iftar in London. A year later Bashir was invited to speak with the very community he first discovered a year ago. He truly embodied the community spirit and philosophy of supporting all of mankind and not just our own community. My last message to Bashir was ‘Please come back inshAllah (God-Willing)’ and he replied ‘If you tell me to go to Mars, I’m there’. Instead Allah SWT decided to host Bashir in His gardens of peace. We pray to our Almighty Lord that we are reunited with our dear brother Bashir in eternal paradise’. We spent our night praying Salat al-Janazah in absentia and making du’a for him, his family and the Ummah as a whole, and sat quietly reminiscing of the memory of Bashir the following day during our daily circles and reminders (halaqa), where stories were shared describing his humility, humour and kind character. What is important to hold from this life lesson is that Bashir has left us to continue another more important journey to Jannah; a paradise that he deserves as a 26 year old young Muslim that strived to improve himself, his friends, his community and the world as a whole. Perhaps the most difficult reminder to digest is that even a man of his stature and down to earth personality can part from this world in the glimpse of an eye. This is precisely why we should not take this world for granted, why we should not indulge in our desires and remember Allah in all that we do. Young Bashir lived a life of piety, charity and just leadership- one that we should all learn from, and now as a martyr, his last breath will not go in vain because he will never be forgotten. We at Ramadan Tent Project, inspired by everyone’s testimonials via social media posts, messages, photos and blogs, will be commemorating his name within our project to make sure that we will always have him by our side- not only as a brother, a renowned figure and a charismatic speaker, but also as a role model for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Bashir Osman, you will forever continue to reside in our hearts and minds.
This is my first year volunteering with Ramadan Tent Project- I first heard about it through a friend that volunteered in 2014 and as soon as she suggested it to me for 2015, I signed up. I turned up on my first day to see the tent sat in the middle of Malet Street Gardens, a place I’d not really come across despite having studied just down the road several years before. The volunteers were briefed by Leyla and Shad and after donning my very own RTP 2015 purple t-shirt, we were assigned our tasks.
The kitchen is by far my favorite spot (of course I am happy to help out anywhere!), but dishing out all the wonderful cakes, sweets, fresh fruit, dips, samosas, pastries and dates gets me somewhat reminiscent of Ramadan days long gone where aunts and uncles would come over with plates upon plates of food for us all to indulge in once Iftari was upon us.
What I like about it so much is that volunteers old and new are all so happy to help and everyone is a clearly very happy to be there and pull their weight.
The tent to me, as a hub for culture and community unity, represents peace and unity, something so important given the terrible instances we see happening in the world today. You never know who you’ll end up next to, how their views will differ from yours, but you are all united by something stronger and the differences will promptly fade into the background.
Malet Street Gardens is such a beautiful setting, and honestly speaking when the sun is setting and the candles that line the banquet rolls are dancing along to conversation and laughter amongst strangers now friends, it feels truly magical.
I can’t wait to volunteer for RTP 2016!