Malika Taher, a Turkish woman distributes food and drinks at Al Quoz Mosque in Dubai on 06 June, 2018. Photo: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News Image Credit:

Dubai: For Muslims around the world, Ramadan is more than simply fasting from sunrise to sunset. It is about enhancing faith, expressing gratitude, and spending time with family and friends. Malika Taher, a 21-year-old Turkish resident of Dubai, says that for her, Ramadan is also a chance to help others in any way she can.

Taher and her elder sister often spend Ramadan looking for different mosques to donate food and drinks to. But when they found out, four years ago, that Al Quoz Mosque needed extra help to feed 2,000 people who end their fast there every day, they decided to visit the mosque regularly.

Through social media, Taher was able to bring together people who wanted to volunteer their time to give back to the community. Every Wednesdays and Saturdays during the holy month, Taher and around 20 volunteers make their way to the mosque where they distribute bottles of water, Emirati dates, and fresh juices. The mosque already provides its visitors with rice and meat end break their fast, but they often don’t have enough drinks, dates, or fruits to go around for everyone.

She said, “I started posting things on social media and many people starting joining. People from several nationalities come with their kids or friends, and help out. Whether they are old or young, they come two hours before iftar. Even when they’re tired and hungry, they still want to help out.”

What started out as a group of strangers volunteering for the same cause quickly turned into friends getting together to help others. One volunteer, Mohammad Abdullah Saadat, a recent Emirati graduate from Saint Andrews University in the United Kingdom, said that after he saw a post on Instagram urging people to participate, he quickly reached out.

“Volunteering helps bring people together, so now I come here, I meet all these great people who I never knew, and we try to make others smile. I think the whole community needs to know that giving back to society will always bring good back to you. That’s why we’re volunteering here today,” Saadat said.

Taher says that knowing that she helped out people in need fills her with gratitude and pride. “When you realise you’ve been doing it for four years, it’s surprising because I feel like I started yesterday. And it’s 2,000 people that you are helping out. It feels amazing.”

— The writer is an intern at Gulf News