Muslims Put Faith into Action for Ramadan

October 19, 2006

Author: Jane Lampman

Source: The Christian Science Monitor

Two rows of tables, stretching the length of the gymnasium, are neatly stacked with brand-new items: warm sweat shirts and caps in several colors, thick socks, bright yellow ponchos to ward off the weather, and hygiene kits stocked with towels, toothpaste and a toothbrush, soap, and a comb. There are bags of food, bottles of water, and, for the children, backpacks and toys.

Young Muslims in matching T-shirts stand ready to help those coming through the line to pick the right size or color. Downstairs in the Tobin Community Center, another cadre of volunteers, including medical students, give health screenings and answer questions about dental care. During their holy month of Ramadan, local Muslim organizations in Boston have joined together to host their first Humanitarian Day for the Homeless.

The charitable event is already a five-year tradition in Los Angeles, where it began under the auspices of the ILM Foundation and Islamic Relief, an international relief and development agency based in Buena Park, Calif. This year it spread to 14 US cities, where last weekend an estimated 18,000 homeless and needy Americans of all faiths were served. Charitable giving is one of the "five pillars of Islam," with Muslims expected to donate 2.5 percent of their income annually. But it's clear from the enthusiastic turnout of more than 250 volunteers in Roxbury - from Girl Scout troops to students from MIT and Harvard - that expressing their faith directly is particularly appealing.

See also: Islam, Civic, Campus, Youth