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Mass killings have now become the news of every other day. How immune have we all become to such massacres? Indeed, the streams of mercy are not flowing in our systems as much as they used to. But is there really no hope at all?
Yes, hope still persists and Muslims never fail to go out of their way breaking stereotypes every once in a while. Just after one day of the mass shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Muslim groups have raised tens of thousands of dollars for the victims and their families. The nonprofits Celebrate Mercy and MPower Change on Saturday created a crowdfunding campaign for the Tree of Life synagogue victims on LaunchGood, a Muslim crowd-sourcing site. The campaign passed its original fundraising goal of $25,000 within six hours only, and then its new goal of $50,000 within 24 hours, according to the page. By Sunday, it raised nearly $80,000 from more than 1,800 donors.
MUSLIMS: Let us stand with our Jewish cousins against this senseless, anti-Semitic murder. Guided by our faith, @CelebrateMercy & @MPower_Change ask you respond to evil with good. Donate now to help shooting victims with funeral expenses & medical bills: https://t.co/v01cOUYdqk pic.twitter.com/n7KJlW6mAX— CelebrateMercy (@CelebrateMercy) October 27, 2018
Once the final goal hits, Celebrate Mercy promises to immediately transfer funds to the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh; working with Tree of Life to send the funds to victims to provide assistance with medical and funeral expenses. GoFundMe also created a certified charity campaign for Pittsburgh victims, which has raised more than $400,000 so far toward a $1 million goal.
The Anti-Defamation League said that the Pittsburgh rampage has been the deadliest attack on Jews in American history. The shooting left eleven people killed and six injured, including four police officers.
After Bower (the suspect) surrendered, he told an officer, "I just want to kill Jews" and that Jews were "committing genocide to my people." Weeks before the shooting, Bowers avidly posted anti-Semitic content on the social network Gab, including threats, Holocaust denials and a vast array of conspiracy theories. Eventually, the mass shooting sparked security alerts at houses of worship around the country and condemnation from politicians and religious leaders.Some even spread messages of solidarity on Twitter:
I am an Arab Muslim and we all sorry for what happened in the Synagogue— Exit 79 (@abdul15th) October 28, 2018
Tarek El-Messidi, the founding director of CelebrateMercy, says the effort is part of his group’s larger belief in responding to hatred with acts of goodness. El-Messidi stated:“We recognize that the money can’t bring back loved ones that [families] have lost so tragically, nor can it physically heal any of the wounds but we do hope the money can in some way lift their spirits, lift the burdens of funeral expenses and medical costs.”
For the Pittsburgh Muslims closer to the tragedy, the effort is simply just about helping their neighbors and rebuilding their community. Wasi Mohamed, the Executive Director of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh and Emgage Pennsylvania, a nonprofit Muslim advocacy organization, said:“Those who were stolen from us by this hateful person were like family. We feel obligated to follow this Prophetic tradition on standing up for the Jewish community.”
The Islamic Center of Pittsburgh also said in a statement:“The Pittsburgh Muslim Community extends our deepest sympathy and condolences to the victims, their families, and all of our Jewish brothers and sisters…the Pittsburgh community is our family; what happens to one of us, is felt by us all.”
Mohamed added that local Muslims have also pledged to support the Jewish community in non-monetary ways during this difficult period; offering trips to the grocery store, protection during services or help with other needs. Also, according to El-Messidi, the past few years have not been an easy time to be an American Muslim, which is all the more reason to reach out to others in their times of need. El-Messidi stated:“If there’s a silver lining related to this tragedy, it’s that [the Muslim and Jewish] communities that have not worked that closely together are starting a dialogue. For the first time they’re able to put aside international politics and really work together for a human cause.”
This latest fundraiser is the latest of Celebrate Mercy’s outreach efforts, which are inspired by the teachings and life of the Prophet Mohamed. Following the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, the group organized a campaign for Muslims from around the world to write condolence letters to the family of slain Ambassador Chris Stevens. In the end, they helped send 7,700 letters from Muslims in 115 countries. The group has also raised hundreds of thousands of dollars to benefit the San Bernardino shooting victims in 2015, and to repair vandalized Jewish cemeteries in St. Louis and Philadelphia in 2017.
The whole scenario revolves around ‘Defeat hate with love’ and the communities are not stepping back at any cause to help those in need! May Allah(SWT) provide assistance and success to such organizations and their efforts be cherished. They are following the footsteps of Prophet Muhammad(SAW), for the sake of humanity itself. On an individual level, we should pray for the safety of our loved ones and for a death not by such wrath. Moreover, those who can should contribute in donations and spread this message so others get to know and assist in times of such incidents. Our Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said:
“Show mercy to those on earth, and the One in the Heavens will show mercy to you.”(Sahih Tirmidhi)
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