On Eid al-Adha Holiday, Houston’s Mosques Open to Harvey Evacuees

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At the Champions Islamic Center the gymnasium is covered with donated mats,  blankets, clothes and boxes of food. On the eve of the Eid al-Adha which is one of Islam holiest festive days  Champions Islamic Center has become the temporary home for 15 thousands evacuees of Harvey which consists of Muslim and non Muslim. It will host hundreds of people during  morning prayer of Friday for the festival of sacrifice. The mosque’s leaders have been adamant No matter how many people attend the prayers because the evacuees are not going anywhere.

M.J. Khan who is the president of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston said,” They are the number 1 priority and will not be disturbed, displaced and will not be moved anywhere.”  M.J. Khan operates the Champions mosque and several others  refugee shelters that are providing shelter and said,  ” The people who come here stay in parking lot and If they have to pray in the parking lot they will pray in the parking lot.”

In other catastrophes, from the Superstorm Sandy in October 2012 to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and  after that the terrorist attacks of September 2001. The American Muslims have been counted as victims and the participants in the recovery. Estimated 200,000 People of Muslim community of  Houston  has opened many community centers and sent hundreds of volunteers to serve food and other donations. Some of them have rescued  their neighbors from high water and from the affected area.

Despite of historic flooding hitting the Houston area, an iftar dinner and prayers continue at the Champions mosque which is also known as Masjid al-Salam and the other community centers in Houston. However, some families who participate in those rituals will spend night at mosque because they can not return their homes. On Friday morning others  head from prayers to volunteer at food banks and shelter and some others find themselves at city’s mega shelters that is unable to get to mosque for the holiday.

The Scholars  and the Islamic leaders say the work underscores the spirit of the festival which coincides with the hajj or pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia.  The livestock of Muslims slaughter  and distribute the meat to the poor. While commemorating the willingness of Prophet Ibrahim also known as Abraham to Christians and Jews to sacrifice his son in accordance with the will of God and in the end God provides him a sheep to sacrifice.

Imam Hassan Qazwini, the leader of a Detroit area mosque and one of the top Shiite Muslim leaders in the United States said,”Ultimate goal of holding & practicing these rituals is to help others.” Islamic Institute of America, is dedicating this Eid to the increasing money for storm victims, and state and also the national Islamic organizations have been spearheading  the similar efforts.

He said,” I believe, opening door on the day of Eid for refugees and people in need is a form of worship.”

Sitting on a chair inside the gymnasium Champions mosque,  Mabel Rozier recounted that how she was rescued from third floor apartment as the floods water reached at second floor.

Rozier said that she was grateful to have a comfortable place to eat and sleep.

Katherine McCusker who is  staying in the gymnasium Champions mosque said, ” The Muslims are like any other type of person. They are loving, caring, giving people and I feel fortunate that they were open and willing to come.”

At the George Brown Convention Center which provide shelter to  near about 10,000 people and a handful of Muslim evacuees who were organizing Friday Eid prayer .

Hasan Logan has been meeting with other Muslims during the several days. They have stayed inside the convention center and said, ” It has been going hard but I am going to do it.”

Ismail and Rabia Vaid which has run the shelter along with the American Red Cross,  has expanded it as it doubled its original 5,000 person capacity. Many times at nights after their shifts ended they slept in cots set and then returned to do more.

Ismail Vaid said,” It is not about religion. When the problem or chaos happens whether it is natural or man made as Muslim and as humanity.”

A professor of global Islam at McMaster University in the Canadian city of Hamilton, Liyakat Takim said,” What is happening in Houston is the best example of Islam in action and is most important to the faith on religion.”

He said,” The Muslims are the part of American society and they should contribute in any way possible, If you can’t be a good human being, you can’t be a good Muslim. The primary identity  of good human being is not as a Muslim, the primary identity is their humanity.”

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