Religion News Service reports that Muslims in Oklahoma have come to the aid of victims of the EF5 tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma. Oklahoma is not a state that is friendly to Muslims; indeed, the state has passed laws twice forbidding courts to consider Islamic Sharia law in their decisions; moreover, GodDiscussion reported in 2011 that a police captain in Tulsa lost a lawsuit over a free lunch in a mosque that honored law enforcement. RNS adds that Muslim organizations in the state are trying to build bridges in order to help overcome prejudices against Muslims:
“As Oklahomans, we’re part of this community, and our hearts just break for what happened,” said Adam Soltani, executive director of theOklahoma chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, one of several Muslim groups collecting donations.
“We want to show the compassion and mercy that Islam teaches us.” [...]
While Muslim-American organizations have routinely provided emergency aid following natural disasters, the Oklahoma tragedy is special because of the anti-Muslim sentiment in the state. Rather than retreating, however, Muslims increased their outreach, convinced that when Oklahomans meet Muslims, their prejudices will fade.
“I believe this helps break down barriers,” said Saad Mohammed, director of outreach at theIslamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City. “But dialogue and interaction are going to have to continue if these barriers are going to stay down.”
Mohammed was at home in suburban Moore, taking cover in a closet with his wife and teenage twin sons when the tornado bore down. Their home was completely destroyed, but the family survived.
The day after the tornado hit, the Muslim community came together to organize a community drive to provide basic necessities to victims of the tragedy that killed 24 people. In less than two days they had collected thousands of food items, toiletries, bottled water and other necessities. The Islamic Circle of North America sent a Disaster Relief Team as well, which helps with debris removal and fixing damaged houses.
Some Christians appreciate the help the Muslims are offering. According to the RNS article, Reverend Joshua Leu of the New Hope Christian Church, an interfaith activist in Oklahoma City, said that disasters often bring people together without regard to differences.
“Anytime people come into contact with people of other faiths or ethnicities, it breaks down the stereotypes people have."
The video above from Faizan Syed, details the relief efforts of the Muslim community in the Oklahoma City area. He says they will help rebuild the community, donate blood, and do whatever is necessary to help the victims. He said as Muslim Americans, it is "our duty to go and help these people."