In a country ravaged by poverty and gang crimes, the coronavirus pandemic outbreak meant more suffering for the poor in Trinidad and Tobago.
But, thanks to efforts by Muslim volunteers and charity groups, many were able to survive the lockdown period.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, our organization provided relief to the members of our community who suffered economic loss, as well as persons in and around East Port of Spain,” Ahmed Lovell, a Muslim for over 28 years and the leader of the Islamic Resource Society (IRS) told Trinidad Express.
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“We were able to provide approximately 100 food hampers weekly. We obtained donations from those members within our community and from the neighboring business community.”
Lovell added that IRS has distributed $40,000 in food items and other essentials to the poor during the past months.
For him, giving to the poor is a key Islamic tenet.
“My mandate as the amir [leader] of the Islamic Resource Society is hinged on the prophetic tradition, ‘The best of you are those who are most beneficial to mankind’, and it is in that spirit I have been able to continue a long-standing tradition of my predecessor in partnering with several Muslim and non-Muslim organisations in Trinidad and Tobago,” Lovell said.
He added that the IRS has cooperated with the Islamic Dawah Movement, Trinidad Muslim League, Jamah Masjid, and East Port of Spain Religious Group.
The Muslim leader intends to continue his efforts to help the vulnerable in the community.
“It is our intention to continue to serve the needs of the vulnerable within the community, and by extension the wider society, with the aim of being a benefit to others. Charity is considered a duty in Islam,” he said.
“During the stay-at-home order due to COVID-19 pandemic, many people were affected financially.
“Therefore, we would have seen the need for more to be done to alleviate the hardship being experienced by our Muslim brothers, as well as other members of the society. This caused us to intensify our efforts.”
Muslims constitute 5 percent of the population on Trinidad and Tobago, representing 102,421 individuals.
The first Muslims to arrive in the country arrived from Africa brought as slaves by the colonists.
The second group arrived in 1816 as a small proportion of those of the Corps of Colonial Marines who were African-born and had been recruited in 1815 in Georgia during the War of 1812, mostly settled in Fifth and Sixth Companies within the Company Villages near Princes Town.