Updated: Oct 14, 2021
The “battuta” Spotlight section always presents noteworthy Muslim companies to our readers. Join us as we celebrate these companies who embark on presenting Islam with Ihsan - in the very best possible way.
For many, the month of Ramadan is associated with fasting and creating a deeper connection with our Lord, Allah SWT, the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth. In this Spotlight article, we highlight the contributions of a non-profit organization called the Ramadan Tent Project ( RTP ) who took it a step further to show that Ramadan is about intentionally connecting with Allah SWT and the communities that we live in, thereby establishing harmonious relationships wherever we may be and shining a light on the beauty of Islam.
It is a breath of fresh air to come across selfless people. Omar Salha, the Founder and CEO of Ramadan Tent Project, happens to be such a person. In 2013, a fateful Ramadan evening in the UK, a trolley full of snacks and drinks and a group of kind-hearted students extending invitations to international students to join them as they break their fast marks the very beginning of the flagship event, Open Iftar, which has now become the UK’s largest annual community and cultural event in Ramadan.
Open Iftar is an experience that welcomes anyone regardless of age, race, and faith background. It is free of charge. Sponsorships, grants, and generous donations have allowed RTP to continue on its excellent path. Since its humble beginnings in 2013, the in-person Open Iftar events have allowed over 100,000 people from all backgrounds and faiths to converge and develop relationships over a meal.
Before the pandemic, Open Iftar was held in over 20 cities across the UK and the world. Some were in iconic locations across London, such as Trafalgar Square, the British Library, Wembley Stadium, Westminster Abbey, and so many more. Free “hot meals” and water were also offered at these in-person events to every guest to break their fast and to help support vulnerable community members.
Global Iftar launched during the pandemic and has set a record as the first-ever world’s largest Virtual Iftar. The Virtual Open Iftars were conducted across all five continents within 24 hours to accommodate for time differences. In addition, guest speakers from the different regions were on hand to mark this momentous occasion. It allowed for some deep virtual connections and had a whopping turnout of 250,000 people.
The mission of RTP is “building bridges of understanding, solidarity, and compassion whilst softening hearts and minds to bring about good relations between people for a more harmonious society,” and this seems to be going from strength to strength, Masha’Allah. Over the past eight years, a total of 350,000 people have affirmed that they believe in creating this feeling of belonging and understanding that they are just one small part of this global village, our planet Earth.
Volunteers are an integral part of many non-profits. To express gratitude to their dedicated volunteers that work tirelessly, RTP has set up a Leadership and Training Academy. This six-month program allows youngsters to develop their leadership and organizing skills to be agents for social change and cohesion within the communities they hail from.
Are all the activities limited to the month of Ramadan, you may ask? RTP attempts to instill the spirit of Ramadan throughout the year with the Sunnah fasts of Monday and Thursday, including special fasting days of Arafah and Ashura. In addition, RTP is eventful with its Welcome Ramadan Conference and its RTP podcast - Real Models. However, its significant contribution has to be commissioning research into “belonging, faith, and positive social impact.”
With a higher global emphasis on diversity and inclusion, RTP has also taken the initiative to train businesses, corporations, arts & cultural organizations, and nonprofits on the importance of faith engagement.
Open Iftar events aim to return in 2022 insha’Allah, but the following are some of the ways you can support RTP:
You can follow them on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube @openiftar and @ramadantent.
You can donate all year round or even set up a monthly payment via their website www. ramadantentproject.com/donation.
You can always check out their latest work and / or events by going to https://www. ramadantentproject.com/our-work/
What started as being courteous to students living far away from home has evolved to provide a safe space where people meet, eat together, and celebrate their differences.
Indeed in a world swamped with negatives, it is constantly refreshing to experience random acts of kindness that eventually evolve into something big. So, praying for more barakah in their future endeavors, we conclude by saying, “In this edition of battuta “Spotlight,” the Ramadan Tent Project ( RTP ) stole our hearts.”