Buses across the UK will carry the message 'Subhan Allah' during Ramadan to raise awareness


Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection for the Muslim community and during the holy month donations to international aid organisations soar.

Islamic Relief, Britain's biggest Islamic charity, is running a campaign to recognise the great work aid organisations have accomplished over the past 15 years - helping halve the number of those in extreme poverty - while also recognising so many are in need of help.

Subhan Allah - meaning "glory to God" in Arabic - will feature prominently on buses in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Bradford and Leicester. "We want to celebrate the fact that extreme poverty has been halved and give thanks for the opportunity that Ramadan provides to give generously in support of people in need," said Islamic Relief's UK Director Imran Madden.

residents of the besieged Palestinian camp of Yarmouk line up to receive food supplies
Islamic Relief operates in 33 countries, helping people "of all faiths and none" (AP)

International aid regularly makes headlines but they're generally not positive - as a quick Google search will show.

"In a sense this could be called a climate change campaign because we want to change the negative climate around international aid and around the Muslim community in this country," said Madden.

The advertisements will feature on 180 London buses from May 23 ahead of Ramadan, which takes place between June 6 and July 7.

England cricketer Moeen Ali backs the initiative, saying: "This campaign is a great way to get people talking about the meaning of Ramadan - a special month that's not only about fasting but also about spiritual reflection and giving to those less fortunate. I hope it will encourage debate and increase understanding."

Moeen Ali celebrates taking a wicket
Moeen Ali (right) backs the campaign (Tsering Topgyal/AP)

But the campaign has drawn criticism from Christian groups who fear their own religion is being increasingly censored while allowances are made for Islam.

Last year Odeon, Cineworld and Vue cinemas refused to show an advert featuring the Lord's Prayer, while a Christian group was banned in 2012 from running a bus advert promoting "gay conversion therapy".

Andrea Williams, head of Christian Concern, said that allowing Islamic adverts while banning Christian ones reflected a "disproportionate fear" about the Christian message in the face of worries about critiquing Islam.

She said: "Increasingly what we see is accommodation being made for certain groups and a fear by the elite of consequence if they do not make way for certain groups.

"It (the ruling elite) bends over backwards to ensure that groups like (gay rights charity) Stonewall and Islamic Relief are given space but is very concerned when it comes to Christian advertising or morality, so that is where you find a certain message being censored.

"Our cases at Christian Legal Centre demonstrate how the message of Christianity is censored in the public space as the elite fears that it will offend.

"But when it comes to Islam, there is a big push by the ruling elites to make as much accommodation as possible, and a fear of being seen to critique or criticise the doctrine of Islam."

She added: "If these adverts are running then we should ensure that space is given for Christian adverts to run, but what we are seeing in many situations is the removal of access to public space for Christian groups."

Islamic Relief receive around half their annual income during Ramadan, which they use to help "people of all faiths and none where the need is greatest".