By Susan Schwartz, MMNS
Natural disasters that occur in far away places are often unreal to the public until the reality is brought home by those who have been on the scene and those who work to help the needy.
The Muslim community in the LA/Orange County area came together during the last days of Ramadan to raise money for the flood stricken victims of Pakistan. The floods were the result of the worst monsoon in over 80 years. Sponsored by the Islamic Shura Council of Southern California (ISCSC) and Islamic Relief, the fundraiser was held in the Hilton in Anaheim, Ca. this past Saturday evening. Articulate and convincing speakers, well known to the Muslim community, described the conditions in Pakistan and asked for generosity.
The evening began with a reading from the Holy Qurâ€™an with a translation. Anwar Khan, VP for Fundraising Development for Islamic Relief, told of his recent experiences in Pakistan. He said that he had been in that beleaguered nation many times since the monsoon began this past July. Many of the audience were moved to tears when he told of children being bathed in contaminated water by their parents. The parentsâ€™ answer when confronted: â€œThis is the only water availableâ€. The visual presented on screen and Brother Khanâ€™s words to the audience were worth the proverbial thousand words.
More than 200 health facilities have been destroyed by the floods, exacerbating an already deadly situation.
Contaminated water is the breeding ground for Malaria and Cholera and can cause severe diarrhea in young children, a condition that is often fatal and, when not fatal, is dangerously debilitating.
â€œItâ€™s unbelievableâ€ said one young woman to her table mates. â€œWe take so much for grantedâ€ she continued, holding up a glass of water.
Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, the Educational Director of the Islamic Center of Orange County and the Chairman of the Fiqh Council of North America told the audience that those who show mercy on earth will receive mercy from heaven.
Brother Shakeel Syed, Executive Director of the ISCSC, spoke of a similar fundraiser five years ago when a deadly Tsunami devastated Indonesia. â€œThe Southern California Muslim community has always responded.â€
Other speakers included Sheikh Yassir Fazaga, Imam of the Orange County Islamic Foundation and Imam Zaik Shakir, Scholar in Residence and co-founder of Zaytuna College.
Islamic Relief was founded in 1984 in UK. It has grown to a respected international body and is currently a member of the United Nations Economic and Social Council and is a signatory to the Code of Conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Relief.
Islamic Relief has partnered with many highly respected institutions including the Church of Latter Day Saints (Mormon). The organization seeks to address the needs of the worldâ€™s poorest people when faced with man made and natural disasters. Islamic Relief works to develop and empower victims of disaster as well as to address their deprivation.
The Islamic Shura Council of Southern California was established in â€˜95, the first of its type in the nation. Since then, it has served as a model for other Shura Councils. ISCSC works to foster a spirit and culture of â€œworking togetherâ€ at all levels.
ISCSC: www.shuracouncil.org. Islamic Relief: www.irw.org.