‘Tis the season to be jolly. Peace and goodwill to all men.
Joy to the world. ‘Tis the season to be jolly. Peace and goodwill to all men.
These festive lyrics aren’t usually associated with Muslims. Instead, they probably evoke some rather Christmassy imagery… sleigh bells, holly boughs, a star over a manger.
Yet the Islamic ethos couldn’t be more in tune with these hopeful themes that are sung by carollers each year. To be Muslim is to strive for a peaceful and harmonious mankind, free of want - a dream that underpins traditional Christmas wishes.
Muslims are regularly shown to be the most generous charitable givers by religious group. Charitable giving is a pillar of the Islamic faith, and many Muslims go above and beyond what is expected of them in terms of charity. This is noticeably apparent during the colder months when we see numerous winter appeals from Muslim charities such as Penny Appeal.
The season surrounding Christmas is part of the fabric of our wider society at its most celebratory. And while the over-commercialisation of Christmas can sometimes distance it from its spiritual foundations, at its core Christmas is about family, kindness, and about humanity – universal themes that resonate with everyone.
Penny Appeal’s new winter TV advert – appearing on primetime slots across ITV and this week – is a testament to this. In this inspirational video, viewers are reminded that the Christmas period is about warmth and happiness, about friends and family, about loving your neighbour - and that “’tis the season for Muslims too.”
They are also reminded that one’s true wealth is the good one brings into the world – because this season is not, in fact, the season for everyone. For the 15 million people living in poverty in the UK alone, it remains a season of struggle, pain, and hunger. But even though this is not the season for everyone, it can be – it’s a time for us all to work together to change the world.
Penny Appeal was founded in 2009 in Wakefield by multi-award-winning entrepreneur and philanthropist Adeem Younis. It has since provided a range of life-saving projects in over 50 countries worldwide, reaching over 49 million people in the last twelve years. It has become one of the fastest-growing charities in the UK with a simple vision: taking small change and making a bi
g difference; working both abroad and at home in the UK, empowering communities and helping individuals break the cycle of poverty.
Each winter, the charity launches its annual Winter Emergency appeal, raising funds to deliver winter blankets, clothing, and food packs aid to several countries around the world (primarily to refugees and displaced people). Here in the UK, the project includes a Community Kitchen mobile food truck for low-income families, asylum seekers, refugees, those affected by homelessness, and people in long-term unemployment.
Penny Appeal’s winter awareness campaigns typically follow a particular message – emphasising togetherness, community cohesion, and collective care for the vulnerable in society. This year’s advert follows a day in the life of a Penny Appeal volunteer as she navigates the contrasts of th
Christmas season – one minute she’s dazzled by fairy lights, and the next she’s stopped in her tracks by someone sleeping rough on a park bench.
But the message here isn’t that the inclusion of some comes at the price of the exclusion of others. Rather, the festive cheer we can see all around us – the bells, the gifts, the twinkling lights – it’s about kinship, about warm fellowship; and the kindness we show towards the less fortunate is an extension of that joy. It would be a betrayal of that Christmas cheer if we didn’t strive to make this a season for everyone.
WEDNESDAY 22 DEC 2021