Islamic Relief USA Takes a Stand Against Hunger During Ramadan

June 12, 2019

By Syed M. Hassan, Islamic Relief USA

Ramadan is among the most holy months in the Islamic calendar. Most people know it as a time where observant Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset each day, for 30 days, avoiding food, drink, smoking, etc. Non-Muslims curious about the month tend to marvel that during the fast, you can’t have a sip of water

While that is the general takeaway, Ramadan’s meaning and significance goes much deeper than the physical avoidance of food, drink and other things. It’s a time of spiritual reflection, of positive challenges, and a season of giving.

Courtesy: IRUSA

In recent years, Islamic Relief USA, a non-profit humanitarian and advocacy organization that marked its 25th anniversary last year, has made its mission to provide food to the most vulnerable populations. Volunteers pack food boxes with nonperishable foods – pasta, tuna, rice, soups, other canned foods, dates –  that are then sent to some of the most vulnerable and at-need populations  around the world.

Anwar Khan, president of IRUSA, expressed his gratitude to all the volunteers and donors who provide support to the orphans and the hungry all around the world. He assured supporters that while both sides may never see each other, the beneficiaries show their support by making “dua,” or supplication.

(Ramadan is a time when awareness is raised about our fellow brothers and sisters who are suffering all throughout the world from dire poverty, food insecurity, lack of clean water, among other conditions). Thanks to the generous support of IRUSA donors, millions of dollars are raised to help fulfill these objectives. IRUSA has projects in more than 40 countries around the world.

On a personal front, Ramadan is a time for people to step up, to challenge themselves, to stretch out a bit more, to get out of their comfort zone. It’s a time to strengthen their level of faith and observance. Many people fulfill that objective by attending their houses of worship (mosques), reciting the Holy Qu’ran, praying more, and making duas.

We all know food is a precious resource, but sometimes, especially in the developed world, it’s easy to take it for granted. That is a dangerous tendency, since it could lead to people being careless about their food. At mosques, one of the most disturbing scenes is seeing people discard paper plates that still have food in them. No food should be going in the garbage can, unless of course it’s spoiled.

Anwar Khan, President of Islamic Relief USA, addresses the Annual Congressional Eid Reception

That being said, it’s vitally important to consume good, nutritious foods in order to stay mentally alert and physically healthy. Sure you want to treat yourself, but as they say, it’s best to do so in moderation.

In addition to fasting, Ramadan serves as a time to take an inventory of your flaws, bad habits, and other weak spots, and work industriously to overcome them or at least keep them at bay.

Islamic Relief USA reminded its supporters of this important task through a series of Ramadan Reflections videos called Nafs Hacks. It was a successful endeavor, and I was glad to participate in it.

Now that Ramadan has concluded, the hope is Muslims, and people of other faiths, continue to value the importance of appreciating, and not wasting, food, practice self-discipline on a regular basis, and challenge themselves. That’s how we learn and grow.


Syed M. Hassan is the public affairs specialist for Islamic Relief USA, a nonprofit humanitarian and advocacy organization that works on alleviating poverty and hunger in more than 40 nations.