London, United Kingdom – From producing protective gear for health workers and donating food to vulnerable communities, to helping families pay for funeral costs and even setting up temporary morgues, Muslims in the United Kingdom are stepping up efforts to support those in need during the coronavirus crisis.
The pandemic has so far led to the deaths of more than 11,000 people and seen over 88,000 infected the UK.
As a national conversation turns to a shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for NHS staff, with a rising number of doctors and nurses succumbing to the COVID-19 disease, the Green Lane Mosque in Small Heath, Birmingham, is involved in a project launched by Loft 25, a furniture and garden brand, by providing 350 volunteers who have been producing PPE.
At the mosque itself, an additional cold storage facility able to house up to 36 bodies has been set up as other facilities struggle to accommodate victims waiting to be buried.
Kamran Hussain, head of the Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre, told Al Jazeera: “We get direct contact from families to pick up loved ones from the morgue and arrange for burial services. In line with protective measures and health policies, we have agreed with the imams to not wash the bodies of the dead, due to the safety of the volunteers and their families.”
On the advice from the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England, ” We decided that there would be significant risk if volunteers wash the body, and we would not put our volunteers or staff in any risk,” Hussain said.
The Green Lane Masjid is being supported by organisations including Morrisons, Macmillan and Ummah Welfare Trust.
Together, they also run a service delivering food to those in need.
“The Muslim Community are really stepping up their efforts to support with the pandemic and will continue to do so in times of need,” said Hussain.
Meanwhile, Muslim Hands, a UK-based charity, has set up appeals to deliver thousands of free meals and launch a multilingual hotline for elderly people who are self-isolating.
Individuals are also working on grassroots initiatives in their local communities.
During the early stages of the epidemic, for instance, Asiyah Javed and her husband Jawad, a Scottish Muslim couple, donated hand sanitiser to elderly customers at their grocery shop. They also delivered hundreds of packages to vulnerable people at home.
British Muslims have also rushed to support families who have lost loved ones amid the crisis, often setting up crowdfunding pages to help pay for funeral costs or raise money for charities in the name of the victim.
After 13-year-old Ismail Mohamed recently died in a London hospital, Muslims contributed to a fund that has now raised 71,600 pounds ($89,400) – well over an original target of 4,000 pounds ($5,000) to pay for the burial.
There are an estimated 3.4 million Muslims in the UK.
“In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen incredible work in Muslim communities, from repurposing mosques to create facilities to alleviate pressure on the NHS to grassroots initiatives supporting those who are vulnerable and in need,” a spokesperson from the Muslim Council of Britain told Al Jazeera.
“It is great to see so many Muslim communities playing their part in the national effort to combat COVID-19 and support one another.”