OXFORD’s Muslims are preparing for Ramadan during the coronavirus lockdown by delivering food parcels to those in need.

Ramadan, which starts this weekend, is one of the holiest months of the year in Islam.

Alongside fasting during daylight hours, Muslims observing Ramadan traditionally pray, give to charity and spend time with family.

But the coronavirus lockdown is presenting problems for some of Oxford’s Muslim population, so the Central Oxford Mosque on Manzil Way has decided to deliver Halal food parcels to less well-off members of the community.

Faisal Aziz, a spokesman for the mosque, said: “The mosque has historically for a number of years had an open house – an open iftar – where everyone comes to eat. This includes students, people who are vulnerable and elderly people.”

An iftar is an end of day meal held to break the fast during Ramadan.

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Mr Aziz added: “This year, because of coronavirus we cannot offer that anymore, but the leaders of the mosque decided we should still do something to feed the community, irrespective of their background or religion.”

The mosque is working with Oxford City Council to deliver 150 food packages to those most in need within the Muslim community in Oxford.

The food packages contain a wide range of essential food supplies, including rice, flour, oil, dates, tinned tomatoes and chickpeas.

They are aimed at vulnerable or low income Muslim families to enable them to close and open their fast during the month of Ramadan.

The food is also able to anyone in need of assistance at this time, regardless of their faith.

Organisers at the mosque, who have been part of the delivery effort alongside Mr Aziz, include land trustees Wally Dogar and Ajaz Rehman, and committee member Manavar Anwar.

They have brokered deals with local shops to help them buy some of the food in bulk.

Mr Aziz added: “We want to say a special thanks to Meg and all the staff at Tesco on Cowley Road for their help.”

The project has been jointly-funded by council and the Central Oxford Mosque.

Oxford Mail:

Picture: Ed Nix

Every food pack will also contain a leaflet from the city council explaining other support available in Oxford during the pandemic.

As well as the food packages, the mosque is also planning to offer a hot food collection or delivery service during Ramadan.

Muslim families would usually come together at sundown to close their fast, but no longer can due to the pandemic.

Around one in six residents of Oxford identifies as Muslim.

Oxford Mail:

Picture: Ed Nix

Muslims in Oxford can access the food packages by contacting the city council’s single point of contact for vulnerable people to ask for the extra help during the coronavirus pandemic.

There are two ways of contacting the single point of contact.

Either call the contact centre on 01865 249 811 or complete the form: oxford.gov.uk/communityassistance