The impact and contribution that Muslim charities make to British society is underappreciated, particularly at Christmas, a parliamentary group has found.
In a report, A Very Merry Muslim Christmas, published this week by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims, says it is difficult to estimate the impact of Muslim charities’ work because there are so many of them carrying out a vast range of activities.
But the report says that many do "tremendous work during the Christmas and winter season", such as providing hot meals to the homeless or winter warmer kits to keep elderly or vulnerable people warm.
The report comes after oral hearings were heard in parliament in November and written evidence was submitted to the APPG, which is chaired by Anna Soubry, the Conservative MP for Broxtowe, and Wes Streeting, the Labour MP for Ilford North.
"Media narratives portray Muslims as rejecting, even calling for the banning of Christmas, but as our findings reveal, Muslims are busy preparing for a ‘Merry Muslim Christmas’ with charities distributing food parcels, hot meals, thermal clothing and other essential items to spread good cheer and help individuals celebrate the season," the report says.
It says dominant stereotypes of Muslims in the UK portray them as "takers not givers" and resistant to integration. Muslim charities are also affected by this, the report says, and usually only make the headlines for "behaving badly".
It says: "Whether it is poor governance issues or fears of abuse for terrorism financing, despite figures from the Charity Commission negating the probability of such abuse, Muslim charities get the same raw deal many British Muslims do.
"And as with most coverage on Islam and Muslims in our media, the bad behaviour of a few individuals sees the many tarnished with the same brush. But such perceptions of British Muslims, and of British Muslim charities in particular, are wide of the mark."
The report says the Grenfell Muslim Response Unit, a collaboration between a handful of British Muslim charities, had spearheaded the emergency response and ongoing support provided to those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire, helping more than 400 people.
The report says: "British Muslim charities haven’t received the kind of attention they deserve. At this time of year, when Muslim charities are working alongside many other faith-based charities to spread good cheer, peace on earth and goodwill to all, we hope our preliminary findings highlight and celebrate their work."