Alam Sher: An inspiration to us all

Alam Sher isn’t looking for recognition or to win any popularity contests. But that’s what he deserves. He’s a perfect example of what happens when good people decide that ‘enough is enough’, see the poverty and the distress that exists in their local community and decide to do something about it.

It was 2012 when Alam, then aged 59 took it upon himself to cook for hungry Glaswegians and distribute food free of charge to those who had nothing. Now, nearly three years later the food is still prepared in Alam’s own home, just as before but the whole operation has grown significantly since those early days.

Now Alam’s venture has grown far beyond its humble beginnings. Local businesses regularly donate food and the poverty relief project has two fully staffed soup kitchens, one at the Glasgow Central Mosque and another on the city’s Cadogan Street, and a fleet of drivers who distribute around 100 food packs every week to homeless and poverty-stricken people throughout the city.

glasgow central mosque poverty relief foodbank muslim

Apart from the 100 food packs already mentioned, Alam and his team also provide an additional 30 food packs per week to refugees and asylum seekers through the charity ‘Positive Action’. The team estimates that they’ve delivered around 20,000 food parcels free of charge since the first hot food found its way out of Alam’s kitchen and on to the plates of Glasgow’s most desperate citizens back in 2012.

From their base at the Glasgow Central Mosque the poverty relief project has also developed working links with the Glasgow Homeless Shelter and runs a successful sideline in collecting and distributing clothing, a much-needed service given the cold winter weather of Clydeside’s most famous city.

You can learn more about the poverty relief project, along with the other services from community bridge-building through ‘Islam awareness’ to the blood donation programme run by the Glasgow Central Mosque here.

mosque glasgow foodbank

Don’t suffer – go to Suffa instead

Suffa Bolton weekly food delivery homeless and hostelWe have heard so much that is negative about Islam and about individual Muslims from Britain First’s propaganda machine that it’s easy to forget the real people behind the slander. Muslims, just like the members of every other human group vary. Some are nice and some are nasty. Some are criminal and some abide by the law. Some are extremists (like their Biffer counterparts) and some are exceptional in their kindness and in their humanity.

We recently learned about the Suffa project, a Muslim led organisation intended to help homeless people (‘Suffa’ is the Arabic word for ‘Shelter’). The inspiration for the project comes from the Islamic instruction to provide food for the hungry and shelter for the destitute.

In Suffa’s own words…

“Our intention is to seek the pleasure of Allah by acting upon the numerous teachings of the Qur’aan and sayings of His Messenger (sallAllahu alaihi wa sallam) that exhort the feeding of the poor and welfare of the destitute.”

The idea began in Birmingham during the month of Ramadan, the period of fasting in which Muslims are called upon to fast during daylight hours and use the money saved to help others. A group of Muslims began simply by walking around the W. Midlands city providing cups of tea, biscuits and some non-judgemental interaction to the rough-sleepers they encountered. That was in 2011. Since then Suffa has developed into a year-round project and it’s spreading to other British towns as well.

With bases in Birmingham, Walsall, Sheffield, Leicester, Coventry and Bolton the organisation provides thousands of meals to hungry, homeless people and it has plans to develop even further, eventually aiming to provide both financial assistance and training to help people get back on their feet again.

You can learn more about the Suffa project here.

Contact Suffa via their Birmingham branch here.

Halal certification. It’s a business thing.

Our thanks to an EBF supporter who sent in this article explaining the reality of Halal (and other) food certification labels.

6 halalOn Britain First you’ll often see lots of people who are upset about halal food. Never Shechita (Kosher), by the way, just halal. Many claimed that they are ‘not bothered about animal welfare’ but that they don’t want to eat anything that’s had a ‘mumbo jumbo prayer to a false god’ said over it. Most conflate non stunned slaughter with ‘halal’ not realising, or not wanting to know that ‘halal’ covers a much wider range than the method of slaughter and the saying of a blessing. Halal simply means ‘permissible’, something that’s allowed. Anything that is not allowed is ‘haram’ All of the major Abrahamic religions have dietary restrictions. Christians, Jews and Muslims are not supposed to eat pork, and Christians are forbidden to eat shellfish.

2 vegetarian societyLeviticus 11:7-8  :

And the pig, because it parts the hoof and is cloven-footed but does not chew the cud, is unclean to you. You shall not eat any of their flesh, and you shall not touch their carcasses; they are unclean to you.

4 veganLeviticus 11:10 : But anything in the seas or the rivers that has not fins and scales, of the swarming creatures in the waters and of the living creatures that are in the waters, is detestable to you.

Shellfish and Pork are ‘haram’ to Christians, Jews and Muslims although it seems that Jews and Muslims are much more likely to observe these laws.

1 Gluten freeIn addition, while alcohol is not strictly forbidden in the bible, drunkeness is frowned upon Galatians 5:21 : Envy, drunkenness, orgies and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Since practicing Muslims and Jews observe these religious dietary requirements, they are careful about what they eat.  Some products may contain gelatin derived from pigs and some may have ‘hidden’ alcohol.

It’s pretty obvious that you are buying pork if you buy pork chops or bacon, it’s pretty obvious that you are buying alcohol if you buy a bottle of wine – but some products have hidden pork products and may contain alcohol. Did you know that fruit pastels contain gelatin? Did you know that baked products containing vanilla extract may contain alcohol? If these ingredients are forbidden for you to eat, wouldn’t you like to know that they are in the product so you can avoid it? What about if you are a vegetarian? Or need a gluten free diet? Perhaps you’re allergic to dairy, or prefer your produce to be organic or soil association approved. Vegetarians and vegans would also need to avoid those fruit pastels.

3 soil associationFor many years, people with special dietary requirements have had to stand about in the supermarket aisles, trying to read the small print on the back of the products – and some of it is VERY small. It used to be the case that anyone with these dietary needs had to spend a lot of time carefully selecting products, or stick to the few they knew were safe to eat if in a hurry.

But the food industry is big business and could easily lose sales if they are missing out on the purchasing power of a percentage of the population. Not about to miss out on business, food certification became an eye catching way to make sure that your product is SEEN to be safe, and seen quickly. Certification boards were set up to inspect food for it’s content. If the food met the boards standards they were awarded with a label that set their product visibly apart from others (that may also be safe to consume.) The boards charge the manufacturers a fee to display such labelling but this is a worthwhile overhead for manufacturers to have.  It’s a form of advertising. Those certification labels shout loudly from the shelves that the product is safe to consume, whatever dietary requirement it meets.

It is much easier and quicker to shop when you can look for a familiar and trusted logo on show, and you are more likely to choose the product that you can easily SEE is safe to consume, than to read all the small print on others, which might be equally safe. So food certification applies to many food types.

Halal certification is a business thing.

It’s not funding terrorism, it’s increasing the manufacturers sales, which makes it simply good business sense to have your food products certified ‘safe’ to consume, for every consumer.

Remember too, that air is also halal, and take a good deep breath of fresh air, and count to ten the next time you have to explain to a bigot the way business works for increased profits. 
7 meme