Unexpected Partners: Muslims Helping in Haiti

Posted on February 7, 2010

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By WAJAHAT ALI
http://www.counterpunch.org/waj01282010.html

Haiti is experiencing unimaginable suffering from its devastating earthquake, with more than 150,000 dead and one to three million individuals displaced. Individuals, groups and governments from around the world have stepped in to do what they can. United by their religious tradition of charity, Muslims have emerged as effective partners in aid and relief work.

The international effort to aid Haiti by individuals, Islamic relief organizations and the governments of Muslim-majority countries reflects a proactive generosity and empathy espoused by the Prophet Muhammad and the teachings of the Qur’an. Charity, in fact, is one of the five obligations for Muslims, and Muslim organizations have been working alongside other faith-based groups to fulfill this duty.

Islamic Relief, one of the most respected and successful disaster relief charities in the world, has used technology, new media and social networking sites to mobilize people. Along with “Seekers Digest”, a popular Muslim community blog run out of Canada, Islamic Relief hosted the “Muslim Online Haiti Fundraiser” and raised over $100,000 in two hours. The organization also used its existing partnership with the Mormon Church to send hygiene kits and temporary shelters to Haiti, in addition to pledging a total of $2.5 million.

Islamic Relief also sent an emergency response team to directly assist victims in Haiti. These Muslim aid workers have been updating a daily blog with sobering first-hand accounts of the tragedy.
Assisting Islamic Relief, Muslim American artists and community activists convened to put on a concert in New York City, hosted by the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN), and used the opportunity to raise donations for Haiti. In Chicago, IMAN partnered with a local synagogue and church to raise aid money.

Governments and non-governmental organizations (NGO) of countries that are more often known as recipients of aid have also reached out. Two Pakistani NGOs, Al-Khidmat Foundation and Edhi Foundation, are mobilizing relief efforts to help Haitians despite the country’s own political and economic volatility. Both organizations have considerable expertise in this area due to the massive 2005 earthquake that killed nearly 80,000 in northern Pakistan. The Edhi Foundation has already pledged $500,000 to assist Haiti.

Speaking on Haiti’s catastrophe, the president of Al-Khidmat Foundation, Niamatullah Khan, said, “Islam exhorts us to help those who are in trouble…. Humanity comes first.”  [more]

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