Maryam Bozai, Teacher

“As Ramadan approaches I feel a sense of inner struggle to tap into motivation to do more. To be a better Muslim, to do a little more than I would the rest of the year. This year I got lucky. A friend messaged me about an effort to provide refugee families with iftar meals. I had a connection with a local resutaurant and while I didn’t want to ask for an outright donation because restaurants are struggling right now, I knew they’d be willing to provide a very discounted price. The restaurant was willing and eager to give a very generous package for a low price. Each family of five was going to be given a meal of samosas, dhai baray, a vegetarian salan, a meat salan, and parathas (for $20 donation)!

Next I reached out to my Facebook connections. All it took was a posting on my personal page and one on a local Muslim ladies group for the donations to start rolling in. I barely had time to calculate how much before we reached our goal-$3,360 for 168 family meals. I posted a little before iftaar time and had to stop around isha. The friend who brought this need to my attention was able to find several volunteers to drop off the iftaar meals to the refugee families’ homes. 

Our community is extremely generous and given the opportunity to help, time and time again they show us that they want to step up. 

What really hit me was two of the people who donated. 

One-one of my professors from college. She’s an autistic, homosexual woman who is not Muslim, who constantly uplifts me in my faith. She’s always praising my efforts (religious or otherwise) and “likes” religious texts that I post. I pray that she is guided to Islam and is rewarded for being the positive uplifting person she is. 

Two-an individual who was born Muslim but not outwardly practicing. One who openly portrays actions that are considered sinful in Islam. Yet this person silently messaged me asking for where to donate and did it. This one quiet sincere act probably ranks higher to Allah than anything I’ve done. It made me reevaluate my actions. Do I do “good” things because I sincerely want to please Allah or do I do them to please people? I pray that my sincerity is as real as hers is and that this act is the one Allah uses to grant her the highest level of jannatul firdous. 

With how quickly I met my goal I feel I failed to anticipate the social currency that I hold. I had to turn several people away who were upset that they couldn’t be a part of this. I had excess donations that I ended up donating to an organization that has similar efforts. With such amazing friends, family, and acquaintances who are hungry to help others, I need to step it up. 

Inshallah next year my goal is to reach out in advance to multiple local restaurants and figure out a way that we can collectively combat hunger within our less fortunate communities. If not year-round than at least during Ramadan. I will also reach out to more communities to find information for more families in need. This year we were about to help 42 families with a weekly iftaar dinner. Next year, inshallah ALL families in need with DAILY iftaar dinners. With Allah’s permission and our infinite resources, I have no doubt that we can do this. May Allah accept from us and reward us. Ameen!”

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