Since January 2001 the homeless of Birmingham have received a cooked breakfast prepared and served by volunteers working for Clearbook. The programme had been initiated by a Budhist group but was for the most part carried out by Christian groups. When the opportunity to participate, on one Sunday per month, presented itself it was accepted as an opportunity to display publicly the humane nature of Islam in a visible and practical way.
Of course, because most of the recipients were not only non-Muslim but also social misfits there were some voices in the community who felt that the Sixty pounds per month should only be spent on projects that either directly benefited Muslims or carried a big banner saying that Muslims were doing it. Other voices implied that in the UK there is no need for people to go without food because the State made sufficient provision for such cases. The answer that they were given was that apart from it being our duty to give, there might be Muslims or potential Muslims who would come into contact with us during this sort of activity that would otherwise remain in ignorance and hardship.
Sadly, at the breakfast given at the start of October, on Shab al-Mera'j, a Shi'a brother was found in the queue for hot tea on that damp and chilly morning. He had slipped through the State's safety net. His situation had been missed by the local Muslim communities. For six weeks he had been forced to turn to non-Muslims for his rightful sustenance.
When he saw who was serving that day, he turned to his companions in neglect and said, "These are my people! These are Muslims!"
QURANS IN DEMAND!
Brother Murtaza, the President of the local Khoja jamaat, called me at home and said that there was a brother at the Mosque from an area of the UK where there are very few Muslims. The brother wanted some copies of the Holy Quran to place in his local library and schools. Could I help?
I had been given one or two copies of the Mir Ahmad Ali translation by the Bilal Mission of Scandinavia for distribution to libraries so one of those went into a politically correct plastic bag together with some copies of the English only edition of the Shakir version and three copies of the Sahifah al-Sajjadiyah, all purchased from Islamic Thought.
When I arrived at the Mosque the brother was delighted. He only lived in a small town and there would be plenty.
The next week-end Murtaza called again. Could I supply some more Qurans because all of the others had gone. The brother from Scotland had taken some to a place near where he lives and there was great demand. The place? Locherbie!