Why is Muslim Generosity in Charitable Giving a Secret?
Categories: Latest News
Wednesday April 26 2023
The month of Ramadan has come to an end, a month of fasting, contemplation and spiritual rejuvenation. But to many Muslims, it is also an opportunity to multiply the spiritual reward for their good deeds through charity, following the example of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) who was described as someone generous, but even more generous during the holy month in the Islamic calendar. Throughout the month of Ramadan, British Muslims tend to be generous, going above and beyond for charitable causes. For Muslims, charity is ingrained deep within Islam, as one of the five pillars of Islam, Zakat. This is an obligation for every Muslim that is financially able, to support the most needy in society, promoting community responsibility for those with wealth to support those in need of wealth. However, despite British Muslims’ positive contributions towards the betterment of society, their efforts remain largely overshadowed by the constant demonisation of Muslims, reflected by the negative attitude towards Muslims.
British Muslims are among the second most hated groups in the UK, with a previous study showing nearly 26% of Brits feeling negatively towards Muslims. Moreover, the media is often guilty of misrepresenting British Muslims which no doubt has a direct impact on the public’s perception and attitude towards Muslims.
Earlier this year, a study by the think tank Ayaan Institute found that Muslims donate over £1bn a year to charity across causes both local and global. With the overall annual contribution of Brits at approximately £11bn, Muslims account for almost 10% of that figure, yet only make up 6.5% of the UK population. Astoundingly, the figure is only the more impressive as the think tank projects this figure could rise to £4bn by 2051. This astonishing contribution can be attributed to the ethos of charity found within Islam, echoing the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) who mentioned “charity extinguishes sins just as water extinguishes fire”. Yet, there is not nearly enough coverage of positive stories on British Muslims in the media.
The question of why British Muslim contribution is largely overlooked, or why the general public has negative attitudes toward Muslims may be due to the constant misrepresentation of Muslims. There are not nearly enough positive stories covered by the media, and almost too many negative stories, with a discourse analysis understanding media attitudes towards Muslims, finding that for every moderate Muslim mentioned in the press, there were 21 references to extremist Muslims. Furthermore, the MCB’s Centre for Media Monitoring analysed over 48,000 articles between October 2018 and September 2019, with their findings being concerning, to say the least. Almost 60% of articles were identified as associating negative aspects and behaviour with Muslims or Islam, and merely 3% of articles were categorised as supportive. Given the role the media plays in informing and influencing public opinion, it has a burden of responsibility to ensure that it does not misrepresent groups particularly if it risks causing harm. However, within the media exists a culture of Islamophobia, which no doubt, has played a role in the rise of Islamophobic rhetoric, and the normalisation of Islamophobia in the UK.
The UK has a long and proud tradition of charitable giving. For as long as most people can remember, initiatives such as Red Nose Day, Comic Relief, and Princes Trust among many others are household names and a staple of our generosity. British Muslims combine their religious motivation for charity, along with the rich heritage of giving, demonstrating the beautiful marriage between religion and culture, and the best of examples of being British and Muslim. The antidote to negative attitudes towards British Muslims lies in the very place where this issue was first conceived. The positive contribution needs to be highlighted in the media, highlighting the difference Muslims have made, not only in charity but in other areas such as culture, education, and healthcare. Muslim charities have been instrumental through initiatives such as support for the homeless, and helping those impacted by natural disasters. Yet, British Muslim contribution will often go unnoticed. As part of MEND’s mission to highlight the contribution of British Muslims, we urge the media to be responsible in their reporting by having a balanced approach when reporting on Muslims, by covering more positive stories in order to counter the overwhelmingly negative narratives that currently exist.