There has long been a lingering question hanging over the ethnic minorities of the West, predominantly of the Muslim variety: Have they successfully integrated into the society?
The paradigm, however, is starkly different for the younger generation who have grown up in the west. The question for them isn’t so much how to integrate, but rather what contribution can they make to the society?
To answer this question precisely, Muslim volunteer led organisations As-Suffa, Abrahamic Foundation and Hafs Academy recently arranged a disaster relief effort in York to assist the victims of Storm Frank.
This was a collaborative effort between institutions who normally sit in their silos. These silos have become all too common within the urban sphere, moving away from the moral character based world of the past, to a self promoting, CV enhancing, cut throat nature of the current era. So it was a pleasant surprise when three organisations gathered from different regions to support the naturally proud people of York.
It was an interesting few days for the outreach team. From bumping into Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour party leader, on his York flood visit, to meeting an inspirational homeless man who created a right buzz in our team- and more importantly the York community- by showing us all how he could give so much to the community whilst he himself was homeless. Let that sink in!
The simple “smile and offer help to all” ethos of the team brought satisfaction to many, with many testaments via social media. We also received some very positive exposure on radio and TV with Corbyn, as the ‘Muslims from Birmingham’. All praise is to God.
They went to further synergise with the local church and garnered some very positive media coverage. We distributed food and utilities all the while sporting either a beard or hijab combined with a friendly Muslim smile. Perhaps the litmus test was the community feel experienced by the volunteers, which is often amiss in many urban communities.
We saw a juggernaut volunteering effort, helping move York from dire to drier conditions. This drained us out, yet we continued on due to being flooded with immense support from the locals and endless thanks on social media as well as in person. (I shall stop with the puns before it lands me in deep water.)
By the end, the famous Pizza Hut chain’s management team in York and an emotional Yorkie lady slogged it out to pay our bill as we departed from York. This is what life is about especially in tough times; this is what makes us human. This is who we are. This is who we should be. Let us make a resolve to serve others unconditionally. Let us not forget this as we move forward.