During our recent production of the Brothers in Need and Wauchope documentary series, we spoke to Aladdin Elmir about what charity means to him – we also discussed the connectedness and struggle that comes with Ramadan.
Aladdin joined the Brothers in Need to travel over 350 kms – giving up his weekend to hold a BBQ and donate food and money to the local community.
So Aladdin, how did you get involved with Brothers in Need?
I saw one of their posts online, and a friend knew them. So we made that connection and I was introduced to Dean and a few of the other volunteers. From then on we just clicked I guess.
How long have you been with Brothers in Need and how have you found it?
I’ve worked with the Brothers for two years. It’s been awesome.
As Muslims, we are always encouraged to do charity, and I’ve always sent money abroad in different areas and different avenues. But it’s not just donating your money. In most cases, donating your time is a lot more fruitful. It’s always good to be hands on.
2 years is quite a while. What keeps you going?
I guess you need something to do and you need something that satisfies you, you know?
When you’re with a good group of brothers, you’re in a good environment, and you’re just having fun.
For us, it’s not always charity work. Sometimes we get together for dinner or for lunch and just talk about our everyday lives. It’s great to have friends and companions that you can talk to.
What does charity mean to you? What is it? What does it mean for you to do this work?
Charity is a part of what we do, it’s what we believe in. What motivates me personally is a verse from the Koran, 28 77, where it ends with ‘And do good as Allah has done good to you’. That’s my motivator.
As we’re leading up to Ramadan, what does it mean to you?
Ramadan is definitely a month of the year that I look forward to, and I think a large portion of our community does too. There’s two sides to it; the spiritual and gathering side of things, and the discipline side.
Spiritually, it’s the only month of the year where every night I’m at my mother’s dining table for a feast. My brothers are there, my sisters, they’re all there – but eleven months of the year we’re all probably too busy to be together.
After the feast, for the 30 nights, we’re at the mosque, we’re praying with the brotherhood. We’re praying with people and the community.
Then there’s a side of Ramadan all about self-discipline. It’s about abstaining from food from sunrise to sunset. It’s about managing your anger, managing your tongue, managing what you say to people.
But for me personally, it’s a month that God has dedicated to bettering yourself and to bettering the people around you.
The fasting is the easy part when you really think about it. Not drinking and not eating – time flies. You can forget about it and look forward to the feast at the end of the night.
But holding your tongue and holding your anger when you’re driving, when you’re at work, when something happens. That’s real self-discipline.
If you can control your stomach and you can control your tongue, I can guarantee you can have discipline for the rest of your life.
Find more about the Brothers in Need here.