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LONDON: The East London Mosque & London Muslim Center has been serving more than 1,000 iftar meals a day during Ramadan as people in the British capital grapple with the cost of living crisis.

The holy month is a time when Muslims increase their charitable giving and worshippers at the mosque, as in previous years, have been sponsoring the iftar meals at a cost of £3 ($3.80) per head.

The meals comprise biryani, fruit and dates and have proved poplar with students, refugees and asylum-seekers, many of whom are struggling financially.

Plates of food are laid out ahead of iftar. (Mohammed Khaled/East London Mosque)

The mosque has also launched an appeal to replenish its zakat funds which are used to help people in need.

Zakat is a mandatory charity that applies to all adult Muslims who meet a specific threshold. It is the third pillar of Islam and directly translates as “that which purifies.” This refers to the belief that zakat cleanses wealth. It is paid annually at a rate of 2.5 percent on disposable income and other assets.

Many Muslims choose to pay their zakat during Ramadan as they believe that the rewards for doing good deeds are multiplied during the holy month.

People wait for the call to prayer signaling the end of the fast at sunset. (Mohammed Khaled/East London Mosque)

Sufia Alam, head of programs at the mosque, said: “The cost of living crisis continues to put exceptional pressure on families this Ramadan, especially refugee families that we’ve been helping over the past few years.

“Our zakat welfare funds have almost dried up as we’ve distributed every single penny to those in need, and our food bank continues to see high demand.

“We’ve been working closely with Muslim Aid and Islamic Relief to ensure people are not going hungry in our community, especially the most vulnerable,” she said.

Food is prepared in large pots ahead of iftar. (Mohammed Khaled/East London Mosque)

Junaid Ahmed, the mosque’s CEO, said the support of the congregation was vital in helping people in “desperate need.”

“There are so many refugees and asylum-seekers that rely on our donations to survive. We must not forget them. We will continue to work with our charity partners to deliver help to those most in need here in the UK and across the world, especially in places like Gaza, where the current situation is unimaginable.”

Muslims listen to an announcement on the first night of Ramadan. (@elondonmosque)

The mosque has temporarily opened new prayer halls in both the men’s and women’s sections this year to allow 1,000 more people to worship during Ramadan and taking its total capacity to 11,000.

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