Ramadan has settled in, and with that comes staring endlessly at food on Instagram and repeating ‘Yes, even water’ over and over again. Yet the month is the highlight of the Islamic calendar, where friends and family congregate in celebration. However, this year Eid-al-Fitr is estimated to fall upon June 15, exactly one year after the Grenfell Tower fire that killed at least 72 victims.
As a young Muslim living in London, Ramadan is clouded with thoughts of Grenfell as the city marks the one year anniversary and still grasps for answers from the government.
What has happened in the twelve months that followed?
Unanswered questions, a slow reaction, and multiple U-turns from the government which has resulted in public dissatisfaction with how Grenfell and its survivors have been treated.
Recently, the government admitted that although they promised a year ago that victims would be offered permanent residence within 12 months, only a third have received it.
Grime rapper Stormzy has been called the ‘People’s champ’ on twitter for calling out the prime minister during his performance at the Brit Awards; questioning, ‘where’s the money for Grenfell?’ This prompted a response from Downing Street that £58 million had been committed thus far. A recent building regulations’ review into the fire has been criticised as a ‘betrayal’ for not calling a ban on the inflammable cladding that is thought to have contributed to its rapid spread. Now the government says there will be consultations on the banning of the inflammable cladding in high-rise buildings.
However, the Muslim community marks the anniversary of Grenfell personally. Many of the victims were Muslim, as were the residents who were among the first to notice the fire, due to being awake for the last prayer. Muslims and non-Muslims warned sleeping residents to evacuate, and later mosques, churches, and local groups collected donations while locals offered shelter.
The Al-Manaar mosque, located around the corner from Grenfell has been at the forefront of helping victims. Offering shelter to the homeless as well as holding a summer programme for children from Grenfell Tower and the surrounding buildings. The programme, running throughout the summer holidays, consists of lessons about the Islamic golden age, playing sport, and visiting the Science and Natural History museums.
Ramadan is a time of self-restraint and experiencing the suffering of others, and the recent violence in London and the upcoming anniversary of Grenfell brings that a lot closer to home. As the Muslim community celebrates the holy month of Ramadan, it will also remember and commemorate the tragedy.
On June 14, the anniversary of the fire, Grenfell United have planned a silent march that will end with breaking the fast. Although an Islamic practice, people from all religions and backgrounds are welcome, because like the tragedy of Grenfell, religion connects us more than it divides us.