By Susan Schwartz , MMNS
The deteriorating conditions in Gaza – often described as the worldâ€™s largest outdoor prison– have shocked and outraged just and humane people throughout the world. With the attention of the world focused on Gaza, another organization has stepped forward to bring aid and alleviate the suffering there.
A banquet and fundraiser sponsored by Baitulmaal was held in the Embassy Suites Hotel in Garden Grove, Ca. this past Saturday night.
Titled: â€œLight A Candle for Gaza,â€ the well attended event raised more than $85,000 for the beleaguered people of Gaza who lack even the basics of life as they endure deprivation under the boot of the Israeli oppressors.
The event featured as keynote speaker Dr. Hatem Bazien of the University of California in Berkeley. A native Palestinian, he is currently an adjunct professor at Boalt Hall School of Law and a senior lecturer in the Department of Near Eastern Studies there.
Afzar Noradeen was Master of Ceremonies for the event. Beginning with a reading of the Quâ€™ran by Moheb Daha, the evening also featured Hasan Mahmoud, an Imam from Jenin, Sheikh Mostafa Kamel and Osama Abuirshaid.
The audience listened intently as they were reminded of the ummah they were a part of. Quoting from the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh), the speakers told the attendees that they were part of one body and – using an analogy of the human body – when one part of the body was in pain, the entire body was impacted.
â€œYou do not look down on a fellow Muslim, and you do not let him down.â€
Brother Abuirshaid told of individuals in Gaza and their suffering – of a pregnant mother of three who lost both legs in an Israeli bombing. Who, he asked rhetorically, will care for her children? He spoke of young children who live out of trash receptacles. He told of a 19 year old girl dying of kidney failure – a disease which could be controlled with medication easily available in the West.
Brother Abuirshaid spoke of individual Gazans and their suffering, giving them names as he did so. The audience gasped as these people became more than statistics.
â€œI feel as if I know them and suffer with them.â€ said one young woman in the audience.
Baitulmaal is an organization which strives to aid the poor, the sick and the helpless. Headquartered in Texas, Baitulmaal is a (501)(c)(3) charity. Members work toward preventing disease, improving the educational infrastructure and encourage hygiene in troubled areas of the world. Baitulmaal will be found wherever communities are in danger of dissolution and ruin; they serve communities racked both by war and by natural disaster. Baitulmaal has worked in the Middle East, Africa and Asia and in the United State where, to cite one example, the organization came to the aid of victims of Hurricane Katrina.
A recent feature story in The Dallas Morning News in Baitulmaalâ€™s home state described Baitulmaal and its alliance with a Christian organization. Sheikh Hasan Hajmohammad is the co-founder and now a senior consultant of Baitulmaal. Eric Williams is the CEO of a company that produces a religious talk show. They are working together in places far and wide.
Mindful of criticism from the non-Muslim community that might attend cooperation with Baitulmaal, Mr. Williams said: â€œWith the heightened tension today between Muslims and Christians, I really wanted to…help solve the gap.â€
From building a hospital in Jenin; to the rescue of earthquake victims in Pakistan; to providing blankets in the aftermath of a fire in Texas, Baitulmaal serves humanity.
To learn more about Baitulmaal, please access their web site at: www.baitulmaal.org. Or they may be accessed by postal service at: Post Office Box 166911, Irving, Texas, 75016. The telephone number of Baitulmaal is: (972) 257-2564.