By Anne Foy, For ICNA.org
It won’t have escaped anyone’s notice that there’s a pervasive and very worrying narrative about Muslims playing out in the USA at the moment. These are troubled times for the nation – indeed, for the world as a whole – and Muslims are all too often finding ourselves caught in the epicenter of this modern maelstrom.
It’s horrible, what people are saying about Muslims, and particularly horrible to find ourselves erroneously held collectively responsible for the actions of fanatics who have nothing to do with most of us. Many Muslims are reacting with anger and defensiveness to the hate they’re experiencing. Understandably so. However, doing so simply reinforces the cultural perception of Muslims as dangerous, hateful people who want to destroy America.
To combat this bigoted narrative, it may be more effective to prove it wrong. Muslims have for generations been making a serious and very helpful contribution to the USA, in all kinds of ways. Muslim charities have made an enormous difference to the lives of many people in need. However, it is the nature of Islamic charitable endeavors to occur quietly, without undue fuss and publicity. This means that a great many Americans have no idea of the vast place in Islam for compassion and love for one’s fellow human. Perhaps it is time, for the sake of all of us, to put our natural humility about our charitable deeds aside, and let the world know just how good we can be. Here are a few recent things worth shouting about:
Dallas Muslims Give Survival Kits To The Homeless
In Dallas, Texas, a Muslim organization named ‘Ma’ruf’ handed survival kits containing such essentials as toothbrushes, toothpaste, blankets, washcloths, bottled water, socks, and deodorant to a great many homeless people. As they handed out the bags, their efforts were greeted with applause, “God bless you”s, and touching gratitude from the assembled Texans. Ma’ruf, which has been active since 2009, has a strong track record of helping out the homeless and in need through the provision of meals, raising money and donations for homeless shelters, and generally helping the homeless and needy as they try to get back on their feet. Ma’ruf is explicit in its approach towards people outside the Muslim community, saying that their faith should imbue compassion and a desire to help anyone – regardless of their creed.
Chicago Muslims GIve Out 5,000 Turkeys For Thanksgiving
In Chicago, those in need would be advised to make their way to the Sabeel Food Pantry – a Muslim organization dedicated to making lives easier for the poor and underprivileged of Chicago’s South Side. For 16 years, they have collected, bought, and donated Thanksgiving turkeys to those who cannot afford them. This year, they redoubled their efforts, tripling the amount of birds collected, and adding eight elementary schools to their rounds. Pupils whose families were in need could collect their turkeys from Muslim volunteers before Thanksgiving. The ‘turkey drive’ ensures that many families can enjoy a good meal at Thanksgiving, and brings an awful lot of cheer.
Muslim Restaurant Offers Free Christmas Meals To The Homeless And The Elderly
Not an American example, this, but one with seasonal cheer (so worth including here!). Shish Restaurant – a Muslim-owned eatery in London, England, is offering free Christmas meals for the homeless and the elderly, vowing that “Nobody will eat alone!”. “We are here to sit with you”, the poster for the Christmas day meals promises. The restaurant’s poster has been shared widely on social media, with English people of all demographics and creeds enthusing about the “selfless”, “lovely” gesture, and the “amazing people” behind it. While they’re not offering a ‘traditional’ Christmas dinner (which in Britain involves a goose or a turkey roast meal, and booze-drenched ‘Christmas pudding’), they are offering warmth, food, and company for those who may be alone and/or cold in London’s bitter winter while everyone else is celebrating Christmas in their cosy homes. While there are plenty of homeless shelters, soup kitchens, and nursing homes which offer meals on Christmas day, it is rare for a private business to do so. What has touched many Brits about this is the offer of company, something which most value far more than a free meal at Christmas!
Ann (Fenton) is a freelance writer and mother. She has followed her passion for writing since becoming a parent and likes the freedom that it brings as well as enjoyment. Ann has 2 children and 3 dogs and loves to read.
By Anne Foy, For ICNA.org