Cost of Ramadan: Families at Finsbury Park Mosque tell of financial burden from month of fasting and charity
PUBLISHED: 19:35 07 June 2019 | UPDATED: 19:35 07 June 2019
With Ramadan over, worshippers at Finsbury Park Mosque have spoken of the financial toll the season can take on Muslim families.
Despite long days of fasting, the cost of feeding a crowd after sunset can put a strain on pockets, as some feel pressured to lay on decadent spreads.
"We put more effort into preparing nice meals and there are extra things like sweets," said Mohammed, who asked us not to print his surname.
"I know others have started inviting people and asking them to bring their own food - but mainly it's the household who invites others that shares food."
According to Islamic branding consultancy Oglivy Noor, Britain's three million Muslims spend an extra £200m during Ramadan, and most families plan ahead of time how to account for extra costs.
But not everyone. Aman, another regular at the mosque in St Thomas's Road, who lives in Islington, doesn't think entertaining over Ramadan and Eid should take a toll on people's wallets.
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"There's nothing in the Quran that says you must spend money on food," she said.
"If you cook, you cook every day. What's special about Ramadan?"
Even if families rein in food expenditure, charity donations and payment of zakat - the 2.5 per cent of someone's income the Quran says should be given to the poor - can mount up.
Muslims are the most charitable religious community in the UK per head year-round, and this peaks during Ramadan according to the Muslim Charities Council.
For Sawla, a mum-of-four who is also a regular member of the Finsbury Park Mosque, giving is the biggest expense of the season.
"I start to prepare in April," she said. "I talk to my boys and tell them we need to save some money for our family overseas. Of course, I don't know exactly who will benefit from it, but whoever needs the money back home [in Eritrea] are our brothers and sisters, so you have to think about them.
"It takes time to recover, but you're prepared for that and when Ramadan goes, we feel sad. We miss the moments with family, the spirit of Ramadan.
"I know it's tiring because of the long day - it's a busy life - but it's worth it."
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