By Hussam Al-Mayman
15 September 2017
ISLAMOPHOBIA, rife in the United States and
the West, was not used as an excuse by the Muslim community in Houston Texas to
turn their face away from humanity. They showed with their actions that though
branded by a segment with the word, the community showed that it did not affect
the human heart. As many who have been following the destruction wrought by
tropical storm Harvey, the worst to hit the Lone Star state, that left many
communities flooded and destroyed in its wake. That would not faze the Muslim
community in Houston to help their neighbourhoods and fellow man regardless of
race, creed or religion.
A group of more than 100 Muslim youths hit
the streets to help Houston residents during the storm. The volunteers passed
out food, water, other supplies, they were on their boats going around making
sure everyone is safe in Houston, raised more than $18,000 to benefit the
victims of Hurricane Harvey, and expect to gain more volunteers from
surrounding cities when the roadways open.
Despite a subjective media that fuels
Islamophobia and an increase in Muslim hate crimes spiking up to 91 percent,
this is not the first time these Muslim communities have aided their own
countrymen as they have aided in recovery efforts in New Orleans after
Hurricane Katrina, in New York after Hurricane Sandy, and in Texas after
Water will also wash away fear of Islam, as
the storm hit and the flooding ensued, the mosques in the greater Houston area
have been providing cots and food to displaced people who may have otherwise
never stepped foot inside the venue of Islamic worship. At least five area
mosques had been turned into shelters. To quote Shazia Ashraf, the chairwoman
of a committee for the Islamic Society of Greater Houston the mosques serving
as shelters are “completely stocked with supplies” including coffee, a hug, a
smile anything that can help.” I think they have cookies too.
Asides from the usage of mosques, half
flooded homes of some the volunteers still set up shop on the second story of
their flooded homes taking in anyone in need of help and shelter.
I am not trying to keep score here but on a
related note, Evangelical pastor Joel Osteen? the head of a mega church in
Lakewood, Texas was harshly condemned for closing his church as the disaster
first struck only later opening the church as a shelter after facing a backlash
online. Osteen comments for his action were ‘that it was taken as a precaution,
and the city didn’t ask them to become a shelter then.’
But I don’t really think the city asked
Shazia Ashraf and her community to open their homes, mosques, and risk their
lives to save many other lives during this disaster. It came from their hearts
and love for their fellow man without an order being issued. Kind of like a
superhero dedicated to fighting crime and protecting the public.
The only thing I hope this storm washes
away is the sentiments of Islamophobia, because when push comes to shove and
when the going gets tough, we are all humans and need help every once in awhile
regardless of who we are and what we believe in.