In a household, not too far from your own; a five-year-old boy runs excitedly around his garden. He runs whether the sun decides to makes an appearance and whether the skies are painted grey. Sometimes his one year-old brother, Musa, runs after him, accompanying him during his laps. At other times he runs with his father, watching proudly over him. To an outsider, the picture painted is of a boy who simply loves to run in his garden, having a little fun, trying to past the time during this lockdown. However, unbeknown to them the reality is very different. Although Idris is having fun doing his laps no doubt, this five-year-old is running for the survival of others. He is running for vulnerable families on the fringe of society, those struggling even moreso this Ramadhan, in the midst of a pandemic.
The mind of a young boy can be an inquisitive one. As adults, we often forget how it was to see the world from the perspective of a child, full of adventure and excitement.
A child brimming with such enthusiasm and zest of for life is 5-year-old Idris. Most weekends he starts his day by waking his parents up with a game of tag. He enjoys a variety of activities ranging from cooking to archery. He is a go-getter and independent, often instructing his parents on how to do things, after he has figured it out himself.
On a usual day, Idris would be at school, running around in the playground enjoying the competitive game of tag with his friends. However, now things are looking a little different. Due to the lockdown, Idris has been staying at home to protect lives. During these uncertain times, Idris continues to lighten up his household with his eagerness for adventure. Idris’s parents have decided to channel Idris’ competitive nature, and his love for tag to help HHUGS families during this Ramadhan as part of the Race 2 Jannah.
The Race 2 Jannah is HHUGS’ annual challenge to raise £100k in Ramadhan. It’s as simple as signing up, promoting your page and then sit back and witness the generosity of this ummah at its best. The perfect challenge for a lockdown, the beauty of the Race to Jannah is that it can be done wherever you are in the world, whatever hour of the day you chose, from the comfort of your own home. You can save lives whilst staying safe.
But Idris’ parents have come up with a unique and inspirational take on this challenge that Idris is partaking in from the comfort of his own garden: running 1000 laps of his 15 metre garden this Ramadhan. Come rain or shine, Idris is ready, motivated and eager to complete it.
Idris’ father, Iqeel, a veteran indefatiguable fundraiser for HHUGS in his own right, explains: “I’m sure you will all agree there is no greater gift we can leave behind than a child who seeks to help others and be a source of ease for them. We gave our son the name Idris because of the desire of Prophet Idris (as) to collect as much reward as possible. Those of you who know me know what HHUGS means to me. The name says it all. Helping Households Under Great Stress.
“Due to the current situation, the running will take place in our garden. How much running can one do in their garden, you might ask? Well I’ve measured! The grassed area in our garden is just under 15 metres long. Idris will, by the permission of Allah, run 1000 times up and down over Ramadan! That works out as a five year old child running just under 9.5 miles subhanAllah!”
Idris’ parents chose to help HHUGS, as a cause very close to hearts, as they believe in the necessity of the charity’s work. They are aware of families within our locality, within our cities, within the UK that are suffering. Often forgotten, isolated and shunned from society, they do not have anyone else to turn to. Children, who have grown up without their fathers, and sometimes mothers; visiting their parents within prison walls, scarred by traumatic events, their childhoods blighted by poverty and instability. These children aren’t able encapsulate the delight of life as Idris can. These children do not taste the joy of Eid.
Iqeel goes on to explain why they are encouraging Idris “to raise as much money as possible for children” whose “reality is worlds’ apart.” “Any one can be affected,” he explains. As a volunteer for HHUGS, he has seen first hand “the impact it can have on children – it can scar them. I’ve seen some of these children grow up; we’ve taken them on prison visits as babies. And as the years have gone on, the same families are going on visits, but their children need different seats now because they’ve grown up. It’s sad to see. I wish HHUGS didn’t have to exist, but whilst they do they will always have our support, insha’Allah.”
“Our children are our future”, he says, “they are the next generation, so it is vital they continue and excel us in good deeds. We always try to encourage Idris. He is a very competitive boy by nature, so we try to utilise that and instill seeds. As a child I remember my father doing certain things, and I find myself also doing those same things. Insha’Allah I hope Idris will continue to want to help others, to take on things that other people won’t.” Iqeel and his wife hope to “set him up for the rest of his life knowing that he hit his target at such a young age so inshaAllah he continues to push himself in aiding others and trying to be like the Prophet we named him after.”
Inspired by the efforts of other citizens in the pandemic, such as the man who ran a marathon in his back garden, Iqeel thought this would be a great way to combine daily exercise under the lockdown with helping others. He has high hopes for his son, though he is not expecting miracles. “An old man set out to raise £1000 for the NHS, and look what he has managed to achieve. I don’t expect the millions he has raised but I hope you will help a little boy achieve something great.”
Since his fundraising page launched, Idris has received an outpouring of support from friends, relatives and neighbours alike. In just two weeks, he has become a “mini celebrity overnight” and has already exceeded his target of £1000. He is now two thirds of the way towards his new target of £3000. One supporter kindly gave a box of dates to every donor who gave over £10, enabling them to raise over £400 just from that. They are all rooting for Idris and inspired by the motivation of a 5-year-old to help others less fortunate. And with every message of support that donors leave for him on his page, he is left even more energised when his parents read them out to him. Aiming for 34 laps a day to reach his target, his father says the problem is not motivating him to continue but getting him to stop!
For the children of HHUGS, Idris is running. He will continue to run daily, whether it is sunny or whether we are blessed with the familiar British rain. He will run until he exceeds his latest target, to continue to raise the essential funds for HHUGS.
Idris reminds us of the strength we hold within ourselves; the strength to soldier on, to be a positive source of help for others, and to give back even during uncertain times. Ramadhan in lockdown may seem like a daunting one. We are unable to reach out to others as we would usually do, to embrace our brothers and sisters at the mosque, to pray shoulder to shoulder, restricted to our own homes.
However, it does not mean that our hands are completely tied from helping those in need. We can, like Idris’ parents, come up with innovative ways to change lives whilst remaining safe. With HHUGS’ Race to Jannah challenge, you can have fun raising funds for HHUGS families, whilst also reaping the rewards for Ramadhan. From the tap of your finger you can join HHUG’s exclusive gaming system, fully equipped with a leaderboard to help keep track of your progress, and those who may be creeping up on you to beat up. You can leave a legacy by getting your children involved – they too can be inspired to compete alongside Idris, in the best month to do good.
Let Idris be a reminder to us all, of the children who are in need this Ramadhan. Who are more anxious, more unsettled and more alone than ever during this pandemic; unable to reach out. To them, HHUGS is a lifeline, a beating heart which offers them respite during turbulent times. Join Idris this Ramadhan in changing lives.