One of Britain’s most senior Muslim leaders has praised Mitzvah Day for “giving a new dimension to interfaith work,” as the charity celebrates its tenth year.
Imam Qari Muhammad Asim, a lawyer and religious leader who chairs the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, was among a host of high-profile names urging people to get involved in social action this month.
“Mitzvah Day has given a new dimension to interfaith work,” said the Leeds imam, who was awarded an MBE by The Queen in 2012. “Volunteering for causes which matter increases the social capital in Britain and brings communities together.”
He added: “Having taken part in Mitzvah Day many times over the past ten years, I know that is allows for meaningful conversations and relationships to develop.”
The charity, which began life in J-Hub in north London ten years ago, has fostered interfaith relations through social action, and an interfaith cooking event at Jewish community centre JW3 took place on Monday, dedicated to the memory of Fahim Mazhary, a long-term Muslim Mitzvah Day volunteer who died earlier this year.
Fahim’s daughter Hibba attended the event, alongside members of the local Jewish, Muslim and Zoroastrian communities. The food was picked up by a Christian volunteer from Emmanuel Church and will be used at their Winter Night Shelter.
Asim was joined in his praise by Prime Minister Theresa May, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, London Mayor Sadiq Khan and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis.
May said she was “proud to have taken part in Mitzvah Day activities in previous years,” adding that she had seen the initiative grow to encompass more than 40,000 volunteers over the years.
Mirvis said Mitzvah Day’s impact had been “absolutely extraordinary,” adding: “It’s amazing to consider the fact that Mitzvah Day has only been around for 10 years, because it seems as if this has been an institution in our community lasting for decades and decades.”
Senior Reform Rabbi Laura Janner Klausner said its impact had been “far beyond what anyone could have possibly imagined,” adding: “It has united people in a common cause, bringing them together as one and standing in defiance against those who would seek to divide us.”