Monday, April 10, 2006

Sept. 2, '05

Helping Hurricane Katrina's victims

“They are not people in a faraway land. They are our neighbors. If we do not help our neighbors during their times of need, we cannot call ourselves believers.”

So said an imam during the Friday congregational prayers on September 2 at a mosque in the San Francisco Bay Area that I attend. The same sentiment was echoed in mosques throughout America about aiding the victims of hurricane Katrina.

In the Bay Area, we began collecting cash donations immediately after the congregational prayers on September 2 under the auspices of Islamic Relief USA. The initial target was 2 Million dollars. Islamic Relief and Hidaya Foundation organized fundraisers and collected cash and clothes in the parking lots of several mosques in the Bay Area in the following Fridays and weekends. Representatives of these charitable organizations were already on their way to Houston, Biloxi and other affected areas to succor the afflicted.

I witnessed the spontaneous outpouring of sympathy for Katrina victims on Sunday, September 11, the 4th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The sprawling parking lot of the largest mosque in the Bay Area was teeming with Muslims of all ages. Children had brought their favorite toys for children "who have lost everything." Men and women were donating cash and bags filled with new and clean clothes, as well as water bottles and dry food. “This is the least I can do,” said a young man volunteering at the table as he hurried to help unload supplies from the van of another Muslim who had just pulled up.

More fundraisers and collections are planned for the coming weekends.

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