By: Muneeza Tahir, Islamic Relief
This Ramadan, children around the world will wake with their parents in the quiet before dawn – sleepy but excited to be big enough this year to be included in the rituals of fasting. They'll rub their eyes and smell the aromas of fava beans, nihari, parathas. They'll eat and, together with their parents, make the intention to fast. And later – bravely ignoring their grumbling tummies as they wait for night to fall – they'll listen with open hearts to stories of the message of Ramadan.
Amid the world's hubbub of struggling economies, increasing poverty, war and famine, political instability and so many other overwhelming problems, children are still abuzz with an untainted and true spirit of Ramadan, excited about the endless possibilities of a month of mercy and giving. For us at Islamic Relief USA, children have always embodied the true spirit of Ramadan—from the children who give to those who receive.
Zaynab Khan, a California resident, was 5 years old when floods ravaged Pakistan just before the start of Ramadan 2010. When she saw images of people walking through waist-deep brown water, Zaynab gave her life savings of $107 she had collected in a pink Disney princess wallet to disaster victims. Along with the money, she attached a note: “For Pakistan. There are floods in Pakistan. I hope this helps.”
That Ramadan, many more children came up with creative ways of raising money for victims. Noor and Usman Saleh sold chocolate bars and raised $660. Arif Ahmadzada raised $2,400 by selling scarves and shawls donated by a local vendor. All of these children embodied the spirit of Ramadan through their selfless giving.
At Islamic Relief USA, we're blessed to see these children's spirits mirrored in the children living in remote villages of Pakistan, running through the streets of Egypt, living within the walls of the West Bank, and so many other places in the world where we reach them—children you may not know but whose spirits would move you like they do to us every day.
Children like Tiemoko Kone, a Malian child whose trials with multiple malaria infections have led him to want to be a doctor and heal others. Children like Farhan Ali of Pakistan, whose father passed away when he was just 1 year old and who wants badly to finish his education so he can become a pilot and take care of his mother who works long hours every day at a spinning mill. Children like Hadeel Haboush, a Palestinian orphan who lost both her parents and wants to build a better future for herself and her younger sisters. Islamic Relief donors have long supported children like Tiemoko, Farhan and Hadeel, whose resilience are astonishing.
This Ramadan, we remember these children in our prayers—those who touch our hearts with their giving spirits to those who touch our hearts with their astonishing resilience. You are their nurturers, their caretakers. They look to you for support and guidance. They rely on you to clothe and feed them, and for your encouraging words to guide them.
Thank you for encouraging your children to help other children around the world. Thank you for instilling in them the desire to give from what they have to those who may not have. Thank you for feeding their spirits.
From all of us at Islamic Relief USA, may you and your families have a very blessed Ramadan.