By Shabnam Sabir 

ACTIONS are based on intentions. Everything I have chosen to do in recent years has been based on my intentions which are derived from my faith.

In Islam everything we do is based on it’s intended purpose and the one quote which I refer to before I take on any project is from Prophet Muhammad, ‘The best of you are those that benefit mankind’.

That being said this is the underlying principle behind every project.

As a proud British Pakistani Muslim woman I feel I am able to use my various layers of identity to reach out to different communities.

I understand the importance of bridging communities from both sides of the bridge and so that is what I have done.

When I first set up the Oxford Homeless Project my intention was to feed the less fortunate during Ramadan.

Then it was about raising awareness about homelessness and breaking the stereotypes around the homeless community.

Soon enough people came to realise how easy it was to engage and help the less fortunate.

The Oxford Homeless Project, although started off as a Muslim Community Initiative, it soon transcended all communities.

People of all faiths and no faiths, people from different socio-economic backgrounds, people of all ages, soon found common ground to work together for one common cause.

Cooking for others is a passion shared by people of all ages, nationalities and backgrounds. This love for cooking coupled with a desire to help the less fortunate became the recipe for bringing communities together.

A shared love for food and compassion for the homeless has seen people from all communities come together to share food, conversations and smiles. My intention was to benefit others and without realising the project benefited not only the homeless community but every other community that has come together as a result.

The Oxford Eid Extravaganza was organised with the same intentions; to benefit people. However, it also became an opportunity for the the Muslim community to reach out and share their celebration with wider communities around them. And again just like the Homeless Project allowed people to enjoy what they had in common; the Eid celebration event was about to follow suit.

People from all backgrounds stepped up to volunteer because they wanted to help. People came together not because they necessarily celebrated Eid but because they wanted to be part of something which served the people of Oxford, something that would benefit all.

The Oxford Eid Extravaganza not only bought Muslims together, or Muslims from different nationalities, but it bonded people of all faiths and no faith. So once again, different communities found common ground and enjoyed it together.

Each event has become an opportunity for people to unite based on their shared values of compassion and mutual respect for one another.

We are different indeed and that in itself is something to be proud of and celebrate, but more importantly we share the same core values of compassion and respect for each other irrespective of who we are, what we believe or how we look.

Actions are indeed based on intentions. My intention has always been to bring people together, to bond different communities and celebrate the diversity we have with full confidence. And this is something I feel we can all do if only we make that intention.