Our founder Omar Salha, shares his personal thoughts and reflection on the past 7 weeks at Grenfell Tower:
“The past 7 weeks has been one of the most difficult, transformational, profound and moving experiences of my life. On the night of the Grenfell Tower Fire, I was driving back from East London Mosque from Taraweeh prayers after finishing up from our daily RTP Open Iftar. That night we hosted our Patron Professor Tariq Ramadan, and the topic of the talk was about Tafakkur (deep contemplation) and our need to refine our approach to worshipping God by appreciating His creation in His vast universe. Sadly, that evening ended in heart-ache, despair, desperation and agony.
Grenfell was a childhood memory. Memories which were stored in Summer afternoons and Wintry nights playing football at the base of the Tower with friends and locals who lived in the neighbourhood. Memories of praying & breaking fast with brothers at the car park and engaging in thoughtful discussions and debates on the grass parallel to the Tower.
Those memories were quickly removed through schemas and experiences at the night of the fire. Screams of young children still ring loudly in my head. Residents frantically rushing around with buckets of water. Streets filled with families desperately looking for their loved ones. It was total chaos but the community reacted quickly opening up their homes and attending to the needs of those families that evening.
What ensued in the first couple of weeks was an astounding response from local communities across London and Britain. People from as far as Scotland drove down to donate goods and offer their time to volunteer and support. RTP was among the hundreds of individuals, charities, and organisations to be at the scene. During the blessed month of Ramadan, as we prepared each night for Open Iftar, hot meals were distributed to displaced families, survivors and volunteers. As a local resident in the area, now 17 years and counting, I took it upon myself as an obligation and duty to support my local community. However, the need for a coordinated response was essential.
The Grenfell Muslim Response Unit (GMRU) was set-up by volunteers bringing together key Muslim agencies to provide immediate support to families regardless of race, religion, background and creed to ensure their needs were met with dignity, care and compassion. 7 weeks on we have continued to support the needs and well-being of the families including all the trauma, anxieties, depression and PTSD they have encountered. By Allah’s grace alone, during this journey myself alongside all the volunteers have been blessed in our position to help all the families in one way or another. Whether it was through a small or large act of charity, it put a smile on the faces of the families. We pray to Allah that He accepts it from us all. Ameen.
On this journey I have met some wonderful, incredible, inspiring and honourable individuals, volunteers, colleagues, family members and residents. Selflessly dedicating their time, efforts and energy to help assist in bringing some comfort and ease to the families affected by the fire. As I look back after these eventful 7 weeks, I reflect on the words of Prof Ramadan that first evening and the importance of appreciating God’s creation in His vast universe. Serving people, serving humanity, serving our community is by way of virtue serving our Lord through helping others. Throughout my personal journey during this experience, it has reaffirmed my belief that contemplation, Tafakkur, as an Islamic form of worship is in fact a cognitive spiritual activity in which the rational mind, emotion and spirit are combined. That spiritual activity takes form in serving those around us and deeply reflecting and being appreciative of the people in our lives, and the situation we are currently in.”
As Allah SWT says, “It is God who brought you out of your mothers’ wombs knowing nothing, and gave you hearing and sight and minds, so that you might be thankful” – Holy Qur’an 16:78