Wednesday, August 01, 2018

One Day In The Haram

Interview with Producer Abrar Hussain

Emdad Rahman

One Day in the Haram is the extraordinary story of the Haram in Makkah. 

For the first time in history, viewers witness the inner workings of the Haram, as seen through the eyes of the workers, over a full day period.

Director Abrar Hussain spent over a year researching different aspects of the Haram, to bring about the most complete and compelling vision of the Haram ever produced.

Packed with knowledge and never before seen footage, this is a film that anyone with even a passing interest in Islam must see.

Abrar has lot of plans in the pipeline. The film was actually shot for cinema exhibition to provide a unique and inclusive experience. He said, “I wanted to create a togetherness whilst viewing so the cinema tours are very important. Next up is Australia and then Canada and we are looking at France and mainland Europe.”

At the end of Ramadan an Indonesian tv provider broadcasted One Day In the Haram on the day of Eid to ten million people. Naturally Abrar is delighted, “The film was made for every Muslim and non Muslim and we are simply delighted to get it out to everyone. 

“I’m grateful as a film maker to have made one film like this and I feel totally blessed. Even if I never get to make another film in the future I'm still very happy knowing I made One Day In The Haram.”

“The UK charity Islamic Help - it’s marketing manager Toyris Miah, along with broadcaster and presenter Rahim Jung were the first two people outside of my team to view the film. They said ‘we love it and want to take it to  the community via cinema.’ And so we made it happen.”

Abrar has always been fascinated by film and cinematography, “I remember recording birthdays and family functions as a ten year old. As I grew older I started to pick up bigger and more advanced cameras - If you have a passion for something then you should chase it. I did.”

Abrar admits he has “too many influences,” when it comes to directors who have shaped his work - “There’s Martin Scorsese, Stanley Kubrick, in fact if anyone analyses One Day In The Haram it will be evident that a lot of the film I modelled on the beautiful shots Stanley Kubrick introduced thirty years ago with symmetrical shootings - Symmetry was a big part of the cinematography of the film and the time lapses played a huge part too.

“I’m very grateful we got to make the film and the feedback we have received is that its beautiful, its amazing, its opened peoples eyes and made them aware of what exactly the Haram is.”

This is a truly captivating documentary, which details the Islamic rituals and rich history of the Haram. 

Every year, millions of pilgrims from all across the world flock to this holy site as part of Hajj and Umrah pilgrimages.

Following on from the huge success of One Day In The Haram an exclusive UK-wide city tour is planned and UK charity Penny Appeal will be hosting viewings of this fantastically insightful documentary from the 7th September till the 29th September for a bargain price of just £5!

All proceeds from the tour will go towards life-changing charity appeals, such as Education First and Thirst Relief. 

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Team Bangladesh 2018 ILFL World Cup timeline

18th June 2018: Inner City World Cup announced

20th June 2018: Emdad Rahman appointed manager of Team Bangladesh by Koys Miah and Rashid Ali (chair and vice chair of the Inner London Football League)

21st June 2018: Abdul Hamid Yusuf and Muhammed Nashir agree to join Team Bangladesh as Assistant Managers 

22nd June 2018: Emdad Rahman officially unveiled as Head Coach of Team Bangladesh

25th June 2018: Team Bangladesh initial 30-man squad shortlisted

28th June 2018: World Cup live draw held at Mabley Green:

Group A:

South Africa

Group B:


29th July 2018: Avenue Construction are unveiled as the official sponsors of the first ever ILFL World Cup

2nd July 2018: Team Bangladesh hold training session and team meet up at Stepney Astroturf

3rd July 2018: Team Bangladesh squad trimmed to 20

6th July 2018: Official Team Bangladesh squad announced:

Bangladesh squad for ILFL World Cup Squad 2018

Coaching team:

Emdad Rahman MBE - Head coach

Muhammed Nashir - Assistant manager
Abdul Hamid Yusuf - Assistant manager

Russell Rahman - Abdul Hanif - Shuhel Ullah - Abdal Ahmed - Jewel Haque - Tafazzul Ali
Khalid Ahmed - Abdul Wahid - Abdul Wadud - Hassan Abdullah - Arshadur Rahman - Abdul Salam - Atiqul Islam - Abul Hussain - Jallal Miah - Forhad M Shah

8th July 2018: Team Bangladesh win the first ever ILFL Inner City World Cup after beating favourites Colombia, Jamaica, Brazil, second favourites England and Brazil again in the final on penalties. Ahead of the tournament Abdul Hanif and Abdal Ahmed are appointed captain and vice-captain respectively.

Colombia 1-2 Bangladesh - Abdal Ahmed (pen), Jewel Haque
Jamaica 0-4 Bangladesh – Ash Rahman, Tafazzul Ali, Abdul Wahid, Abul Hussain
Brazil 1-2 Bangladesh – Abdul Wadud (2)

Semi Final: Bangladesh 5-3 England – Atiqul Islam, Abdul Hanif, Tafazzul Ali, Hassan Abdullah, Ash Rahman

Final: Bangladesh 1-1 Brazil – Ash Rahman
Bangladesh win 4-3 on penalties

Maager of the tournament: Emdad Rahman
Player of the tournament: Abdal Ahmed

Bangladesh make history as the first winners of the Inner London Football League World Cup. The trophy is handed over to the victorious team by ILFL vice chairman Rashid Ali.

13th July 2018: Team Bangladesh are given a celebratory reception by Mohammed Ayas Miah – The Official Speaker of Tower Hamlets council

17th July 2018 – Team Bangladesh are invited to a tea reception at Barking Town Hall by Sanchia Alasia – The Mayor of Barking &Dagenham

26th July 2018: In a charity friendly Team Bangladesh defeat Team Rohingya 7-1 at Mabley Green

Sunday, July 08, 2018

Team Bangladesh win first ever ILFL World Cup

Muhammad Hamza

Brilliant Team Bangladesh have overcome the odds to create history and become the first ever winners of the inner city 7 a side World Cup organised by the Inner London Football League.

Emdad Rahman’s squad who were all assembled from within the vicinity of Tower Hamlets, Camden, Newham and Barking & Dagenham were drawn in the group of death alongside favourites Brazil, second favourites Colombia and a formidable Jamaica side.

The first game against Colombia saw an assured display result in a convincing 2-1 win with a penalty from vice captain Abdal Ahmed and a solo finish from Jewel Haque resulting in a hugely morale boosting start.

It was the lift Team Bangladesh needed and this followed a resounding 4-0 second game thrashing of Jamaica courtesy of Ash Rahman, Tafazzul Ali, Abdul Wahid and Abul Hussain.

With both Brazil and England through to the semis both teams played under less pressure in their deciding game with Rahman, Nashir and Yusuf opting to look at different formations.

Brazil took the lead but two stunning efforts from Abdul Wadud saw Team Bangladesh through to face newly installed favourites England.

The game of the tournament saw Bangladesh run out blistering 5-3 winners in a thrilling semi final with Atiqul Islam, team captain Abdul Hanif, Tafazzul Ali, Hassan Abdullah and Ash Rahman making the difference against a brilliant England side.

It was left for one last push as Bangladesh met their old friends Brazil in the final who had earlier beaten Morocco in an entertaining semi final shoot out.

A tense but energetic finale saw a well organised Brazil equalising Ash Rahman’s opener. There were no more goals and it was onto penalties.

Team Bangladesh keeper Russell Rahman pulled off two stupendous saves and following on from his exploits in the Sylhet Upazila Cup in 2018 it was Jewel Haque who once again scored the decisive penalty to send the players and supporters into raptures as Bangladesh were crowned World Cup winners.

Inner London Football League chair Koys Miah commented, “We organised this tournament to bring our communities together. It’s our very first attempt and we have been surprised at just what a magnificent spectacle today has been as we have celebrated the best of Britain and its communities. Football has united us today."

After handing out the runners up and winners trophy vice chair Rashid added, “This tournament can only go from strength to strength. A massive thank you to our sponsors Avenue Construction and huge congratulations to Emdad Rahman and his superb team for their fantastic win. The team were simply immense from the very first game and against some of the most outstanding teams from our community.”

Bangladesh head coach Emdad Rahman MBE concluded, “Despite being in the group of death not once did I ever doubt the boys could achieve this. What was key today was the attitude of the players, the genuine camaraderie, respect for themselves and opponents, hunger and undoubted ability.

“Each man played his part to a tee and I don’t think a team has ever made so many rotations as we accomplished the distinction of giving game time to each member of our 16 man squad in every game.

“As the squad came together on the pitch they created the perfect storm. We were devastating going forward, we were deviating at the back! Well done to our team - We have created a legacy here today which will be celebrated for years to come.

“I’d like to say huge thanks to ILFL for their faith in appointing me as head coach and my coaching team of Muhammed Nashir and Hamid Yusuf for their amazing input and management at all times. They along with the players are the real heroes today- It has been an honour being their figurehead and I tip my hat to them.”

Bangladesh: ILFL World Cup Winners 2018

Coaching team:

Emdad Rahman MBE: Head coach & manager

Muhammed Nashir: Assistant manager
Abdul Hamid Yusuf: Assistant manager

Russell Rahman
Abdul Hanif
Shuhel Ullah
Abdal Ahmed
Jewel Haque
Tafazzul Ali
Khalid Ahmed
Abdul Wahid
Abdul Wadud
Hassan Abdullah
Arshadur Rahman
Abdul Salam
Atiqul Islam
Abul Hussain
Jallal Miah
Forhad M Shah

Player of the tournament: Abdal Ahmed

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

This is Klopp’s Liverpool

Mohamed Salah’s hair
Bobby & Mane so uber cool
Of all the teams out there
Why do fans choose Liverpool?
There’s tales of King Kenny
Bill Shankly OBE
Boot room & Bob Paisley
Smokin Joe & Rafa's legacy
Mohamed Salah’s hair
Bobby & Mane so uber cool
Of all the teams out there
Why do fans choose Liverpool?
Derby Day Reds V Blue
I witnessed Gerrard score three
Sang heartily with the Kop crew
In a thunderous Mersey derby
A fabled terrace from the Boer War
Songs, chants and the Kops roar
Be there nowt on the score
Or an Anfield blitz of four
Mohamed Salah’s hair
Bobby & Mane so uber cool
Of all the teams out there
Why do fans choose Liverpool?
And then came Sky Blue City
Seeking a place in the semi
Blitzed at Anfield by three
Three cheers on the Mersey
With five European big ears
Eastlands hosts the Red cyclone
Klopp’s men have no fears
They seldom walk alone
Mohamed Salah’s hair
Bobby & Mane so uber cool
Of all the teams out there
Why do fans choose Liverpool?
© emdad rahman

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Ray Wilkins 1956-2018

At the tender age of eighteen
Stamford Bridge he made his mark
The boy did ‘dangerously well’
A class act on and off the park
Deft touches and radar passes
Is how we’ll celebrate Ray
That lob and chip against Belgique
Elegant and masterful play
An FA Cup final curler
Ray rocked the mic at Wembley
He valued the small people
The cleaner, the fan, the trainee
Old Firm stunner for that Ibrox hero
Today he’d be England’s Pirlo
Leggenda Rossonera
Ciao Ray from the San Siro

©emdad rahman

Monday, December 18, 2017

Fake News: Strange historical facts reimagined in the world of Donald Trump

Emdad Rahman

In a nutshell Fake News: Strange historical facts re-imagined in the world of Donald Trump, is lampooning of Olympic Gold standards by witty Newham based Author David Hutter.

The short digest by the 38 year old begins with a disclaimer warning that there is no suggestion that the fictional elements of this book – that is, anything other than the “What really happened” sections are based on the actual behaviour of the persons mentioned therein.

Hutter’s satire focusses on the Donald’s attitude towards North Korea and assorted sycophants from both sides of the pond. The work describes imaginary scenes of what it might be like if the 45th President of the United States of America was involved in obscure historical events such as the military standoff between France and Brazil over whether spiny lobsters are fish or not. 
Events are described at the end of each chapter, with online and book sources provided in case the reader wishes to find out more about them.

Hutter had the idea for the book when he and his wife and went on holiday to China during the summer. 

He said: “At the time, I'd just finished writing and editing my first novel, a satire about hipsters, and I'd put it away for a couple of months to go over it one last time with fresh eyes. But while we were away, I read a book on British colonialism in China, and I imagined Theresa May acting like British politicians did in the 19th century. It struck me that re-imagining historical events with present-day politicians as the protagonists is actually a great way to convey the magnitude of terrible incidents that happened so long ago it can be difficult to really emotionally connect with them.

“And since any politics-related train of thought invariably leads to Donald Trump right now, I developed my initial idea and decided that by focusing on offbeat and amusing historical events instead of serious ones, I could turn this into a satire about the Donald.”

The parody commences at 4.15 am on the January morning after his inauguration day as the new president plots to become the most famous POTUS ever. Thereupon America’s chosen one embarks on replacing the Lincoln Memorial with his own on D Day and declaring all out war on North Korea via Twitter.

Based on those triumphs there’s the changing of the number of days in a week from 7 to 12 to make America great again on the premise that if there are 12 inches in a foot, so why not 12 weekdays. 
As such a move as explained to Sean Spicer would “be great for the economy because people will have to work twice as many days to have a weekend off, so we’ll double our productivity.”

There’s mention of exchanges with old friend, and current foe Alex Salmond over matters related to gold and of course Scottish independence.  Other facts the story is based on – which include a rabbit attack, the accidental loss of nuclear bombs and the ceremonial burial of Presidential body parts – are described at the end of each chapter.

With fictional Donald Trump anecdotes that are based on the mess created by some of history’s greatest megalomaniacs and worst decision makers, this satire offers the small consolation that while things are bad right now, the world has been here before.

After reading this side splitting spoof I would certainly recommend it to readers of all persuasions. The potent mix of hearty satire blended with vigorous and seriously witty political reflection will provide readers with an unconventional chuckle whilst at the same time highlighting our very real current state of affairs.

After all the power of ridicule is a powerful tool to highlight our collective human deficiencies. 
Hutter agrees: “I guess that just reflects my outlook on life, as pretty much all of my writing is satirical. And with Donald Trump, satire is just a natural fit.”

Fake News: Strange historical facts re-imagined in the world of Donald Trump can be purchased on Kindle for £3.80 or paperback at £5.70 from Amazon.

Saturday, December 09, 2017

One Third & Human Relief Foundation Team up for homeless soup kitchen

Emdad Rahman

Living on the street can be all consuming - Help us erase homelessness...

There was plenty banter amongst the team and our homeless friends tonight at Booth House. 

So One Third Soup Kitchen partnered up with the Human Relief Foundation to provide mouthwatering meat Biriani and Krispy Kreme donuts for our homeless friends. 

The freezing weather outside has affected my ear drums and I gratefully accepted the offer to hold the soup kitchen inside the canteen of Booth House. 

In all, our guests loved the food and the grafting youngsters Joe, Rasib & Haider ensured the seniors had an easy ride. I even had the luxury of taking a few minutes out to enjoy some Biriani and a chocolate donut. 

We have some really important causes to support internationally but at the same time it is unforgivable if we forget our friends, family, neighbours, the desperate and needy who just as much need our support on a local level. 

Many people don’t even acknowledge that we have a dire domestic situation featuring poverty and sheer desperation. Others still believe the streets of a city like London are really paved with gold. The grim and harsh reality is very different to this outlook. 

I read in my local today that 4 local homeless people have died in the last fortnight due to cold exposure whilst sleeping rough. That’s four unnecessary deaths - This is beyond tragic. 

I applaud the team from Human Relief Foundation for giving up their family time this evening to fund our efforts tonight. Some may feel that grassroots activism may not be as glamorous or important as other humanitarian causes but for me it is absolutely the foundation and stepping stone to much bigger causes. After all charity always begins at home and the majority of our homeless citizens are in this very predicament through no fault of their own. This who disagree need a compassion transplant or their heads thoroughly checked. 

Follow me on Twitter @emdad07

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Beanibazar Cancer Hospital benefit game

Muhammad Ismael

A mixture of young and old Beanibazar Sporting Club players joined Sylhet rivals Bishwanath East London to take part in a football game to support a Cancer charity.

Beani Bazar Cancer Hospital (BBCH) is a charity based in the UK that aims to create awareness and provide medical treatment for disadvantaged cancer patients in Bangladesh.

The charity’s aims are to build a state of the art, specialist cancer care hospital and provide free medical care and treatment for the underprivileged and those less fortunate.

Emdad Rahman’s side were a little too strong for their opponents and came back from a goal down to win 2-1 thanks to hitman Abul Hussain and captain Abdul Wahid.

The match was well attended and included the presence of BBCH Marketing Director and Trustee Forhad Hussain Tipu.

Beanibazar Sporting Club President Mesba Ahmed commented on the camaraderie and spirit within both camps: “We had established vets players with mixed ability players and youngsters all on the field together. My own son played tonight and has really enjoyed his experience. This is our philosophy and we will always look to be inclusive. Despite the cold snap there was much laughter and merriment tonight and all for such a great cause.”

Koys Miah, interim Bishwanath East London manager added: “It’s great that we have managed to attract such an impressive number of players and fans to watch a lively friendly game on such a cold night. We are proud to have joined our friends to support the Hospital. Cancer destroys communities and I believe it is our collective responsibility to highlight, promote and support such brilliant projects. Well done to Beanibazar for the comeback but it goes without saying that we are all winners here.”

BBCH CEO & Managing Director Md. Shab Uddin concluded: “The power of sport is immense and games like these without doubt highlight the importance of the work we do. We greatly appreciate the humanitarian efforts of everyone involved.”

An expansive selection policy saw four youngsters play their part in the win for Beanibazar. Ibrahim Yusuf, 13, Yasin Ahmed, 12, Minhajur Rahman, 18 and Wajidur Rahman, 20 took to the field to each play a significant part in their teams win. The other end of the spectrum saw Mamun Uddin also make his debut at the age of 50.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Homeless London braces itself for winter

Emdad Rahman

Before you turn away put yourself in their place...

Joe joined the ranks and made his debut tonight. I had barely said hello and given him a hug and we were in action. He took to it like a duck to water and served soup non stop like the trooper that he is.

You see we had a sizeable and friendly crowd waiting to be served by One Third Soup Kitchen tonight. They waited patiently in the cold but it was clear that they were simply famished.

Stan was joined by a whole cohort of youngsters - Inas, Talha, Inayyah, Hamza, Abbas, Minhaj and little Safa.

The Biriani by Farida and Momtaz was simply delicious and the soup by my niece, Ehsan, and their little Safa had many returning for seconds and thirds.

In total we served 62 homeless friends tonight and I think the kids really enjoyed the experience. And that is always a great bonus.

If you’d like to support our work then do tweet me: @emdad07

Monday, October 16, 2017

Homeless Paul the regular hero!

They may be homeless
With nowhere to go
But smile and help
With a heart full of glow

© Emdad Rahman

I find the psychology of stereotyping both intriguing and fascinating. Real heroes don't wear capes, or spandex, or Y fronts, or masks, or mini skirts. They are regular people and often the most unlikely candidates. Some are often unwashed, unkempt, and grimy but their hearts are pure gold and as clean and pure as they come. 

They sit there through the day, ignored, abused, looked down on and maybe sometimes offered a few scraps as a helping hand. They are rare and their struggles and predicament are more often down to unfortunate circumstances. That's the biggest lesson I have learnt whilst working with homeless friends over the years. 

Paul is a regular at One Third Soup Kitchen Stratford. I have known him now for three years and we consider each other good friends. He gets it in the neck a lot of the times from the locals but gives back just as good. 

He keeps himself to himself but is always lending a hand here, opening a door there, helping clear rubbish, warning of pickpockets and even shouting off unscrupulous characters within the vicinity. He loves a curry, especially an economically priced buffet. His favourite hangout is in a quiet spot in Woodford where he goes to get away from it all. He's also got a foul temper which I find quite humorous and his rants are pure comedy gold. 

It came as no surprise to hear that Paul was on hand to help two teenage victims of the recent Stratford Centre acid attacks. Speaking about the incident, their mother Justine Turvey said: “Paul took the boys to Burger King to get water to wash out their eyes and skin. He also helped calm them down before the police arrived. Understandably they were quite shaken by the attack.

A JustGiving crowdfunding page was set up by Justine Turvey for Paul after he helped her son and friend after they were sprayed in the face with acid. After being punched and kicked by the gang, a noxious substance was sprayed at them which also hit bystanders.

A large number of police cars and ambulances attended the incident which left a number of people seeking medical attention, and the front of the Stratford Centre cordoned off. Fortunately, the liquid only irritated the skin of the people it hit, and did not cause serious injury.

In the immediate aftermath of the attack, the two boys were left in shock after the gang fled. Paul was on it like lightning and helped the boys out. It's a typical reaction from this hero. went to help the boys.

At the time of writing the JustGiving page had reached £1,365 of its original £500 target.

Paul isn't always hungry but is usually short of a bob so I would thoroughly recommend a donation is made to this fundraising page to help him get some proper help which the wonderful Joanne has initiated.  

To support the appeal, please visit

Sunday, October 01, 2017



When good homes are empty
The homeless number will grow
Why do we allow this?
Surely someone must know?

© emdad rahman

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Happy retirement Mustaq bhai!

I have known Mustaq bhai for three decades now, as a mentee, friend, big brother, colleague. As a youngster it was his gleaming white BMW that made him standout as he made the short trek from Shadwell to the Berner Estate to carry out his youth work. He actually started his volunteering in the community in 1978 - 2 years before West Ham United last won the FA Cup with a rare header from Sir Trevor Brooking. 

I later on became his colleague and vividly remember his first day when he called me to arrange a spot of shadowing. Because I didn't recognise his voice he was becoming increasingly annoyed until he mentioned the Bimmer and it all fell comically into place. 

For four years I played five a side football with Mustaq bhai at Osmani and found him to be a seriously tough opponent and I'm not the only one. No holds barred hard running, tough tackling and a foul temper, he was the archetypal football hard man in the Johnny Dexter mould. He certainly made his mark, usually on the back of opponents legs as they were mercilessly scythes down. 

Best of all were the plethora of post game dad jokes in the shower which were pretty hilariously delivered in his own unique style. 

Mustaq bhai's best qualities are his straightforwardness and his sheer determination. I have witnessed how he has turned disappointment on its head, to rise, retrain, rebrand and come back stronger. I've greatly admired his get up and go and learnt so much from his spirit and desire to benefit those around him regardless of who they are and where they're from. 

The likes of Mustaq bhai are rare and I'm pleased to not have to say he's going to be missed because despite his retirement from full time employment it's a given that he's going to be full time on the circuit doing that which he loves the most - Serving the community with great vigour and enthusiasm. 

Best of luck with the future bro - I for one will be watching, learning, whilst keeping a close admiring eye on your exploits. 

Happy retirement!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

One Third, homelessness, Greater Sylhet Cup 2017

People who see them
Think the homeless have no shame
What they don't realise
Is they are hardly to blame

© Emdad Rahman

On the eve of the much anticipated Greater Sylhet Cup at Mabley Green in Hackney we took to our soup kitchen with homeless friends at Stratford City.

I have the good fortune of managing these boys again this year and I was joined by team captain Abdul Wahid and a bunch of awesome nephews in tandem. The captain led by example and this has inspired lots of others already. This is the greatest benefit in volunteering - You can enjoy doing something and at the same time influence others massively.

My neighbour works at the Royal London Hospital as an NHS manager and he and the missus provided  delicious Biriani. In fact the food was so popular that it was all gone in 19 minutes and we had to share the last container between two homeless friends.

One thing abut our Beanibazar team is the focus we have on community issues. For two years running we have welcomed Beanibazar Cancer Hospital as a charity partner using the Barcelona ethos whereby we raise funds for this fantastic project. Just like the Catalan giants charity and active citizenship is key within our squad and there are at least half a dozen squad members who are seriously active in our community carrying out a number of roles which includes supporting the elderly, those who are disabled and people affected by poverty.

The kids seemed to enjoy the experience and will appreciate the efforts of the adults in future years. I could tell that the interaction with fellow humans who have no home left them all thinking about their own lives and one told me how privileged he was in comparison to the people he served. Billy and Paul were their usual lively selves but there was no Amanda or Rosie today.

The number of families affected by homelessness is expected to more than double in the next two decades, with a further 200,000 households affected by 2041. The numbers of those who are sleeping rough will soar by fourfold to more than 40,000 in the same period, according to research by Heriot-Watt University, commissioned by Crisis, the homelessness charity.

Whatever happens at the Greater Sylhet Cup tomorrow will pale into insignificance when you take stock of the situation and how worse off our fellow citizens are. If we win it I'll bring the trophy to the next soup kitchen and pose with my mates there. If we don't our work here continues regardless and I'll have to do it next year.

The Greater Sylhet Cup takes place at Mabley Green tomorrow so do pop over and say hello. The ususal big boys will be favourites but my insight from refereeing some friendlies tells me that Biswanath and Chattak will be serious dark horses and contenders.

If you'd like to support me with One Third Soup Kitchen then please get in touch via Twitter:  @emdad07

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Seeing out Ramadan with homeless friends

Emdad Rahman

"Helping one person might not change the world but it could change the world for one person."

Half of homeless people are afflicted with diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer or arthritis but do not receive any treatment. It's a piece of information I came across when looking for inspiration on homeless issues. 

Ben Kentish recently wrote in The Independent about how homelessness has surged 34%, with 100,000 more families losing their home compared with 2010. 120,000 children are living in temporary homes as councils illegally place families in unfit accommodation. The situation with the majority of those we serve is so dire that they most probably are not listed on any records or databases. 

The One Third soup kitchen team were as always at Stratford City tonight with homeless guests. 

I had quite a busy day with a Running Down Dementia jog in the morning, watching my beloved Scintilla in action twice (controversial loss) and squeezing in some Eid shopping. We knew beforehand that Eid had been announced in Saudi Arabia for Sunday and even though we were sad to see the end of the blessed month of Ramadan the mood within our volunteer team was high spirited in anticipation of a day of joyful celebration. 

I was joined by Marjan, Amzy and the Splash kids from Poplar who are well known for their inspiring philanthropic activities. Even during Ramadan the kids have carried on with their community activities including visiting and serving the elderly at care homes with delicious home cooked foods. 

Today we had a lot of old faces absent but that's the case in the summer months where the hot weather encourages freedom of movement as our regular guests move about localities. 

I had a good chat with Danny about Ramadan and what Eid means 

Billy was his usual jolly self and Amanda and Rose were missing. 

Fasting is a really good way to empathise with the hungry and homeless with a significant difference being that a lot of us eat a hearty meal at the end of an 18 hour day of fasting. For our homeless friends this is not the case and many struggle to even get their daily nutrition. With added awareness amongst the greater public I'm sure we can all help make things a little better. 

Follow me on Twitter @emdad07

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Umrah update: Day 9: Humans of Madinah:

63 year old Abdullah (right) studied English at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne (Newcastle University) from 1980 to 1983. He drove around in a Nissan 280c and lived at 10 Park Avenue.

Abdullah loves Bangladeshi food: "I mostly ate Bangladeshi food as a student. It was the only Halal food available in Newcastle and I loved the taste and texture. I always ate mild curry though and couldn't match the Bangladeshis in their ability to consume hot spicy food."

Abdullah enjoyed supporting the Toon Army and watched Newcastle play once at St James Park against Chelsea where he and 27,000 saw Chris Waddle score the winner.

He's also a big boxing fan and went to watch his friend Paul Tucker in an amateur bout. After a convincing win Abdullah was declared a lucky mascot. He attended a second successful fight in Newcastle. He missed the third which was lost: "You could say I was a lucky charm for the team," laughed Abdullah. The Madinah resident is also a big fan of Nadeem Hamed and even did a little impersonation of the famous ring entry routine which is synonymous with the Sheffield born boxing legend. He did add that he was surprised at how much weight he'd put on since retirement.

After departing Newcastle Abdullah settled in Riyadh for two years to complete his teacher training. He has been teaching all his life and is proud of the fact that education in Saudi Arabia from nursery to university is free. He also mentioned that all students receive a government support allowance and glowed with pride as he described the University of Madinah and its international standing with 220 nationalities represented amongst the student roll.

Recently he also taught English language in Madinah and has now retired. He still remains active and with his best mate of 45 years, 50 year old Qasim (centre) runs a building contracting service as well as a real estate firm.

He took my number: "I would like to call you sometimes and speak to you about your life," he said. "It will also help me revise my English."

Monday, June 05, 2017

Umrah update: Day 9: Humans of Madinah:

56 year old Rudy is from Jakarta, Indonesia and and has been a Telecommunications worker all his life. From 1983 to 1990 he was deployed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in the IT sector before he returned home and established himself in his hometown of Jakarta.

Rudy and his wife have two lovely children, a daughter at university and a son who has graduated as a pilot. He showed me pictures of them both and is immensely proud of the excellent adults that they have become.

Rudy very proudly told me about his wife who I also had the pleasure of meeting. She is the main earner in their family and from nothing has developed the Ibu Bandung and Kantin Patria traditional Indonesian eateries in Jakarta. She now proudly owns four very well run restaurant establishments.

They are busy outlets and when Rudy reaches retirement age in a few months time the family will take a four week holiday to recharge before he enrols at a culinary college to train up in restaurant management. "I will then work for my wife," he said. "She has a brilliant business mind and look at what she has achieved. I'm on a middle income government salary and this Umrah trip has been entirely funded by her. After I retire I will work for my wife and hopefully add some value to our businesses."

Anda orang yang hebat dan saya ucapkan selamat berjaya dengan persaraan dan impian anda!

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Umrah update: Day 8: Humans of Makkah: Arzoo

Arzoo is from Cox Bazar (longest beach in the world), Bangladesh and has been living in Makkah since 1997. He hasn't looked back nor travelled back home since and is now settled in Makkah with his wife and family. We were delighted to hear that Arzoo has three sons too.

The 37 year old entrepreneur has paid for his parents to complete their Hajj pilgrimage and although he hasn't been able to travel back to Bangladesh for two decades, he keeps in touch with his extended family and financially supports quite a few members too.

Arzoo has worked hard and built up a couple of small businesses. He also has his own taxi and all this combined enables him to earn a reasonable income which helps support his young family comfortably.

The Makkan drove us from our hotel Areej Al Falah to Madinah today. He's a calm, assured driver with a cool temperament (very important in this country) and I would recommend his services. Our journey took under 4 hours, including a pit stop to pick up Zamzam water and some more juicy green mangoes.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

Umrah update: Day 8: Humans of Makkah:

Hassan has been selling pigeon food in Makkah for two years. He can usually be spotted in the bird feed area behind the Makkah Clock Tower and sells a bag of wheat for 5 Riyals.

He actually loves pigeons and the way he carries himself reminds me of Everton icon Duncan Ferguson who has a passion for pigeons. Big Dunc was the hardest footballer I've seen and edges Luton legend Mick Harford into second place. People found it strange that the tough Scotsman spent his time with such a hobby but he always maintained that it helped him relax.

Like Dunc, Hassan is big, strong and broody. He stands directly in the blazing heat to earn a living and carries his wares in a wheelchair. Hassan can come across as quite stoic and abrupt but if one takes time to talk to him he's a really pleasant character. It's always better to interact first before passing judgement based on personal radar emissions.

The pigeon hangout is a popular location for visitors and our feathered friends fly in en masse, feed and off they go whilst visitors make a fuss of them and the street sweeps gently clean up after them. It's funny how some pilgrims visit with the belief that eating the bird feed will cure them of illnesses and ailments they may have. Interactions take place between visitors and even the bird sellers to try to address these misconceptions and ensure that the food is strictly fed to the birds. Most people accept the reasoning while quite a few refuse to waver in their beliefs.

Hassan loves pigeons and is just at home combining his love for birds whilst earning a living.

Pigeons have a fabulous history in the Haramain but that's a story for another day.

Hassan is another strand in the rich tapestry that is the great city of Makkah Mukarramah.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Umrah update: Day 7: Humans of Makkah:

The Hajj and Umrah are perfect examples of humanity uniting for a common purpose. There is not a single nation on earth that is not represented and reflected in the ethnic make up of the people who visit and the experience of being amongst such a global family is a magical one. No other place in the world can boast such wonderful diversity and togetherness.

I enjoyed a fleeting and chance encounter this morning at Fajr (early morning prayers).

I don't speak Indonesian, he doesn't speak English but no words were needed. "Indonesia" he proclaimed loudly" and beamed a full moon smile as he sat his good self down next to me. "London," I replied proudly and we shook hands like long lost friends.

I don't think he caught my name and I certainly didn't get his. We sat next to each other for the next 30 minutes just exchanging smiles - It was enough and I felt energised and full of life as I formed a very powerful human bond in the with this stranger.

After Fajr he gave me the tightest hug and kissed both my cheeks. I returned the favour by placing a smacker on his forehead. I had underestimated the extent of the lingual skills of this benevolent gent and he said "thank you" to me. We then turned around and submerged into the huge crowd with our families.

It's Friday and the sheer mass of the crowd was beyond crazy as more visitors and also locals crammed into Makkah to pray Jumuah on the most important Muslim day of the week in the most auspicious of months. In fact things were so tight it took us 45 minutes to get back to our manor on Ibrahim Khalil Road.

I think it's safe to say I'll never see this uncle again in my lifetime but I feel a warm glow and feel all the better for meeting him. This is life in a nutshell. We may know people all our lives or meet them for seconds but only some will positively imprint on and impact our lives.

Aku dah buat kawan seumur hidup aku! 

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Umrah update: Day 6: Humans of Makkah:

It's a huge challenge cleaning the world's biggest Mosque and each days thousands of dedicated cleaners like Muhammad, the Burmese Rohingya gentleman beside me are employed to work round the clock to maintain the cleanliness of the holy Mosque.

The role of a cleaner is never easy and it's not just about using a stick to clean the bog or mopping up wet patches. Take a look at their job description and you'll see the finer details their thankless role of cleaning up after the rest of us have had a dump. Amongst a trillion duties it involves some the following on an industrial scale:

- Sweeping and mopping floors.
- Emptying waste bins.
- Polishing the minarets, handles, tiles, gates, stairwells, bridges and doors.
- Cleaning toilets, ablution basins, sinks, baths, and drinking fountains with cleaning detergents 5 times a day. The toilets themselves have approximately 20,000 visitors a day and cleaners are stationed continuously to clean and maintain hygiene in the general WC areas.
- Picking up tonnes of dropped and discarded litter.
- The Mataf (area around the Ka'bah) is washed using hi tech equipment.
- Last but not least, 30,000 bespoke rugs undergo a 5 step cleaning process 3 times a day, which involves dusting, washing, drying in sunlight and mending.

To give you the reader a general idea, the estimated cleaning surface on a daily basis measures approximately 1 million square metres, and will extend to 1.8 million square metres after the completion of the extension project.

Just like the street sweeps the toilet cleaners are amongst the lowest paid and many are in huge debt after having paid the equivalent of 7-10 thousand pounds to secure paid work in Saudi Arabia. They are not paid sick leave and the only benefit available is free accommodation. Despite this the cost of daily living means little is saved to support their families.

A typical shift for these guys lasts 10-15 hours of non stop cleaning duties with small breaks for food and prayer. They are a contented lot and I enjoy observing them in a semi quiet spot, resting, smiling or consuming their food with their colleagues. It's nice to see them relaxed for a little while.

Again, despite their circumstances they are a really friendly bunch who are proud of the role they play in welcoming the world to Makkah, and dare I say it - they are ambassadors for Saudi Arabia for they mix closely with the millions of visitors at first hand and this interaction helps form a rather positive image in the mind of the visitor. In fact the Saudi authorities should up their wages based on this free PR alone.

Again, I can't stress how important it is to offer a tip and the best way to do so is change your designated amount into 1 Riyals and then distribute as you see fit as you wander the Haram complex. If you can't get change at the shop or the bank staff are ignoring you in their customary way then ask the beneficiaries directly - They'll have change from tips or will club round quickly and stump up the amount you require.

They are very needy but also proud and upstanding and the generosity of visitors goes a long way towards supplementing their meagre wages.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Umrah update: Day 5: Humans of Makkah:

Meet Abdul Karim who is Rohingya and hails from the Indo-Aryan people from the Rakhine State, Myanmar. The Rohingya are the most persecuted people on the planet and face scenes of widespread persecution, torture and death on a daily basis mainly at the hands of Burmese Buddhists.

The Rohingiya have zero recognition as Burmese citizens and receive little help from neighbouring countries and the global community. There are a small number of human rights organisations which advocate on behalf of these people.

In Saudi Arabia the Rohingya live in their own confined communities within the slums of Kudai and Naqqasha and can be found selling fruit and veg amongst carrying out other manual tasks. They have heritage and have been living in Saudi Arabia for almost 100 years. A few years ago they were able to apply for an Iqama permit which has provided a little security in a country where foreigners cannot be naturalised as citizens. This does however present the challenge of securing stable employment to pay for their increased costs in relation to their day to day living.

Karim is happy with his lot and grafts hard and long all year round as a fresh fruit purveyor in Makkah. He's a really jolly old chap and his smile permeates and brings radiance to his whole face and demeanour.

Compared to his country folk his life is one of ease. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Umrah update: Day 3: Humans of Makkah - The biggest Iftar gathering in the world

It is likely that at least a quarter of the world's population will be breaking their fast after an approximate fasting day of 16 hours. (We've just broken ours).

In Makkah the weather is scorching at 42 degrees and with not even a slight threat of rain, breeze or shade on the horizon. Yet we have found it easier to observe the fasting in such intense heat and maybe part of it is because we're carefree and not bogged down by daily rituals and chores.

Today we completed our Umrah (non-mandatory lesser pilgrimage which unlike the Hajj can be completed at any time of the year). Despite the heat we neither felt overly thirsty, tired, and lethargy hasn't set in as after a shower I sat in the hotel lobby writing this blog. I did however have to outrun a bevvy of female beggars who started manhandling me before a tug of war and lots of screaming ensued amidst a mild cat fight. I did feel rather special but eventually had to be bailed out by my missus and a Good Samaritan decoy.

One of the main features of the day is observing the setting up of the Biggest Iftar food spread in the world food, which stretches to almost 15 kilometres, taking in the new Haram extension and spilling way into the neighbouring streets including Ibrahim Khalil Road. The daily table spread itself is close to 20,000 metres and is rolled out and rolled up with military like precision by an army of workers, volunteers and scouts.

The food pack to break fast is provided by wealthy dignitaries and no mention is made of their name, nor is any beneficiary required to provide their email in exchange of these delicious freebies. This daily cost of this gesture sets the kingdom back a cool 1 million Saudi Riyals a day. An official told me this is small change when compared to the benefits and rewards of providing food, drink and nourishment to a fasting or needy person.

A delicious Iftar food pack consists of dates, Zamzam water, cake, cheese puff pastry, a croissant and orange juice. There's so much to go round and absolutely no one goes hungry. I timed the whole process from setting up, serving, to cleaning at 30 minutes all in. Inside the Haram complex these packs are not allowed in order to maintain cleanliness due to the larger volumes of people inside. They can only partake of dates, water and coffee there.

The only downside for me is the waste at the end where good food is discarded. I spoke to an official and encouraged better practise in terms of collecting all the waste (unpacked good foods) and transport them to the deprived neighbourhoods and homeless citizens on the outskirts of the city. I'm sure I'm not the first to suggest this and would make the whole thing just perfect and totally sum up the spirit of Ramadan.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Emdad Rahman

THhe things we take for granted someone else is paying for. 

We had a new team at Stratford City with my mate Mosh and nieces Mariah and Zahra and Nadia all clubbing together to support homeless friends. Nadia in particular is running a project called “Humans of Tower Hamlets”. This centres around an exhibition which highlights the excellent achievements of individuals living, working and being schooled in Tower Hamlets – a borough often viewed through negative goggles. Nadia and her team aim to use this exhibition to demystify negative stereotypes and celebrate the excellence within the community.

Mosh and the missus had cooked up a stupendous two full pots of Biriani and the smell emanating from the back had wafted into the car during our journey and left me dazed by the team we reached Stratford.

Mariah and Zahra are both at school and were superb throughout as they took control of serving food along with Nadia. There were lots of smiles and positive interaction with the guests, and a few commented on how genuine the kids were: “Looks like they’ve had great tutoring and mentoring”; “Who is that person?”

It was nice to be a full on supervisor tonight as Mosh led the clean up at the end and even treated the girls to ice cream and me to a full whack Sprite.

•If you’d like to help interact with homeless London, tweet me: @emdad07
•Humans of Tower Hamlets takes place from 1st May 2017 at Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS.