Another story untold: Muslim support for Hurricane Katrina's survivors

Katrina's eye ashore at Louisiana and Mississippi. 29 August

The focus on the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina must remain on its survivors as well as the ongoing marathon of hurricanes, which have doubled in 35 years. However, we cannot but wonder why Muslims have not given enough attention to bring in the limelight the tremendous outpouring of sympathy and Muslim human and financial resources for the support of Katrina's victims.

It may be because God tells us in the Quran that we must take care of the poor without any expectation of reward from them. On an individual level, that is the right thing to do. But at the community level, we don't think it is against Islamic spirituality to let our neighbors know how Muslims have contributed to help survivors. This is especially considering that only bad news about Muslims finds a place in news headlines.

Muslim countries have contributed over $1 billion to relief efforts. Thank you to the anonymous person who compiled the following list:

Kuwait: $500 million ($400 million in oil, $100 million cash)
(http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/9187260/)
Saudi Arabia $255 million
http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/09/06/international.aid/index.html/
Qatar $100 millions
http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/09/06/international.aid/index.html/
Libya $100 million
http://emoodz.com/index.php?p=74
Egypt $30 million plus other aid
http://emoodz.com/index.php?p=74
Algeria $30 million
http://emoodz.com/index.php?p=74
Tunisia $10 million
http://emoodz.com/index.php?p=74
US - Muslim Hurricane Relief Task Force (MHRTF) pledge $10 million
http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/09/06/international.aid/index.html/
Jordan $5 million plus other aid
http://emoodz.com/index.php?p=74
Syria $5 million
http://emoodz.com/index.php?p=74
Morocco $5 million
http://emoodz.com/index.php?p=74
Bahrain $5 million
http://www.tradearabia.com/tanews/newsdetails_snECO_article92654_cnt.html
Lebanon $2 million
http://emoodz.com/index.php?p=74
Pakistan $1 million
http://emoodz.com/index.php?p=74
Bangladesh $1 million
http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/09/06/international.aid/index.html
Azerbaijan: $500,000
http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/09/06/international.aid/index.html/
Afghanistan: $100,000
http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/09/06/international.aid/index.html/

It is also important to remember that this is the largest Muslim relief effort focused on North America. About 5,000 Muslims have been involved as volunteers. Since the Islamic charity infrastructure in America has been destroyed, many Muslims are donating through the Red Cross, but still. Since the fall of 2001, 28 Muslim charities have been charged but have never been found guilty of ties to terrorism. The US government has frozen millions of dollars in Muslim donations to these charities since then.

Nonetheless, Muslims have donated several million dollars to the relief efforts for Katrina's survivors. The newly established Muslim Hurricane Task Force has pledged to collect $10 million.

ICNA Relief has set up an office in Baton Rouge and has been helping house survivors. In Houston, Islamic Relief became the major catalyst for contributing $1 million from the local Muslim community to feed 25, 000 for a whole week. While the Zakat Foundation focused on taking a trailer of specific supplies others were missing to the disaster areas.

In terms of volunteerism, Muslims and their institutions have also participated in a big way. Mosques, in fact, were the first frontline of relief efforts. New Orleans' only surviving mosque became a health clinic for survivors; mosques in the nearest city, Baton Rouge, LA, became shelters with people sleeping inside and outside the mosque. 

In Shreveport, MS, two Islamic centers also became shelters. In Houston, the Islamic Society of Greater Houston declared all mosques open to take in survivors. They also mobilized 2,000 volunteers who fed those housed in the Houston Astrodome. 

Muslim individual stories are important too. Many Muslim doctors, one of whom was interviewed on Radio Islam (www.radioislam.com), volunteered to stay behind with patients and volunteered to stay behind and help. They were evacuated five days after the storm hit.

So far, 90 percent of Muslim charitable giving is focused on disasters around the world. In the past, Muslims have done some charity work in North America by opening soup kitchens and food pantries, holding meat drives during Eid-ul-Adha and participating in fast-a-thons during Ramadan. However, helping survivors of Katrina seems to be the biggest effort Muslim charities have devoted significant funds and volunteers to on this continent. I hope this trend of taking care of our neighbors continues because under Islamic Law (Shariah) Muslims are required to take care of neighbors before we assist those living further away. It seems these latest developments were a necessary correction  on the Muslim charity scene.

However, we live in a global village. The Tsunami, which was a truly huge tragedy, opened the heart of everyone around the world. But at the same time, the cause of fighting drought, hunger and death in Africa suffered. Humanity has plenty to give and I hope at least Muslims will try to match dollar for dollar what they gave for Katrina. I especially pray that the world of Islam, which has contributed more than $1 billion to Katrina relief, does the same for Niger and Mali.

 

"Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans". Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hurricane_Katrina_hits_New_Orleans.jpeg#mediaviewer/File:Hurricane_Katrina_hits_New_Orleans.jpeg

Comments

Asalam AlaikumIt's great to see the outpour of monetary donations coming from muslim countries towards the victims of hurricane Katarina. never before have such tremondous donations been made by muslim countries towards disasters and destructions. but what deeply saddens me is that why can't these countries come forward like the when another muslim country needs them. Why couldn't they do the same for the starving African kids. Why couldn't they do the same for all muslims suffering in the third world mulsim countries. We know, it's not a secret that there are muslim children who are made orphan and woman being widowed. Why can't this kind of charitable acts be made towards them.Was this charity just to make America happy with us. or was it just to make bush happy. This really bothers me coz i could never understand how could they be so blind. our muslim brothers and sisters who are dying from the hands of these kafirs need us more.May allah give us all hidayat.

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