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Half of UK's Muslims will 'struggle to feed themselves' this Ramadan

Islamic Relief calls on government to do more amid food price hikes and the continuing effects of the Covid-19 pandemic
Socially distanced worshippers kneel on their prayer mats during Friday prayers at Sheffield's central mosque, Madina Masjid, on 24 July 2020 (AFP)

Half of the UK's Muslim population will struggle to provide enough food for their families to break their fast during Ramadan, Islamic Relief said on Friday.

The UK-based charity is urging the British government to increase benefit payments as close as possible to the rate of soaring inflation and to further strengthen the country's social security systems.

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According to the Muslim Council of Britain, an estimated 50 percent of British Muslim households are living in poverty and deprivation, compared to 18 percent of the general UK population.

Requests for help from one of the charity’s partners, the National Zakat Foundation (NZF), have soared by 70 percent over the last 12 months. 

NZF gives out grants to those in need from Zakat (an obligatory religious levy) that has been collected from British Muslims.

Islamic Relief says the crisis is being intensified by the situation in Ukraine, with significant food price hikes hitting the UK, and the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic still affecting families struggling financially.

Tufail Hussain, the director of Islamic Relief UK said that “families across the UK will be suffering as a result of record rates of inflation as well as increasing energy prices due to the war in Ukraine".

'Bold actions necessary'

Islamic Relief’s partners in the UK are also reporting a significant increase in the use of food banks as well as increased requests for support when compared to the last two pandemic lockdowns.

Middle East Eye has previously reported on how Muslims in the UK have suffered a disproportionate death toll from the pandemic as well as lockdown-induced financial troubles.

Meanwhile, spiralling prices across household essentials have severely impacted families’ spending and UK households could be £1,000 worse off in 2022, according to an analysis by the Resolution Foundation, an independent think tank.

Many people have been hit hard, in particular low-income families, the homeless, those suffering from domestic abuse, asylum seekers, and refugees who were already struggling to feed themselves, Islamic Relief said.

“We urgently call on the UK government to... take the bold actions necessary to avoid pushing families into destitution," said Hussain.

“This is especially important as Muslim families begin to observe the holy month of Ramadan. 

"Many will be fasting from sunrise to sunset and there is a real risk that families will not have enough food or will go without to feed their children.”

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