Wed, 08/29/2012

When Ramadan began, I called my sister and said, “This year, I want to feel like I really earned Eid!” Eid is the Muslim holiday following Ramadan, the holy month of fasting from dawn to sunset daily. She assured me that with the 16 hour fast in Kansas this summer, that wouldn’t be a problem. For a Muslim in Ramadan, this means fasting the entire month, but also increasing one’s worship and good actions, such as reading the entire Quran, praying the daily Taraweeh prayer (an extra prayer in Ramadan that takes about 2 hours every evening), and giving much in charity, be it money, time, or even a smile.

Aside from spiritually enriching ourselves, we need to step up to challenges as they arise. From the tragic shooting at the Sikh Gurdwara in Wisconsin to the burning of the Joplin mosque, we knew we needed to come together. We often discuss the importance of interfaith cooperation and this was a clear example of necessary action.

The day of the Joplin incident, I received a call from a friend who had read a blog I wrote about my visit to Joplin after the devastating 2011 tornado. I wrote about how the Islamic Center of Joplin hosted volunteers who came to do relief work.

This time around, it was this same Islamic center that now needed our help. The Imam lost his home in the 2011 tornado, and now he had lost his Mosque to a ‘suspicious’ fire. We spent the next two days on the phone with contacts from Joplin raising funds to help rebuild the Islamic center. Friend and Halalfire founder Shahed Amanullah guided them through the webpage setup to create the fundraising page. They were incredibly patient, gracious, and dedicated to their community in this time of crisis.

That week, the neighboring church invited members of the Joplin mosque over for breaking the fast, or Iftar, and later posted this wonderful billboard.

It was incredible. Everyone came together, and within 2 days, we reached our goal of $250,000 dollars. Now, with almost 25 days left, we have raised over $400,000. Christians, Muslims, Jews, and atheists gave, regardless of background and location. Some of the comments included sentiments such as this: “It is amazing to see people of faith supporting and working with one another.” What a wonderful gift for Eid!

Shahed’s facebook status said it perfectly: “Congratulations to all the people of Joplin, who showed in the last few days what it showed the world a year ago after the tornadoes hit - how to respond to tragedy with dignity, perseverance, and an American spirit that transcends boundaries of class, race, and creed. When Imam Lahmuddin of the Joplin mosque holds his first Friday prayer since the mosque was lost, he can describe a clear future for his community: that their mosque will be rebuilt better than before, and more integrated into the broader Joplin community. I'm looking forward to visiting when the mosque reopens, and I hope you will all join me on that happy day."

Happy Eid everyone! We earned it!

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