As soon as news got out on the massive earthquake in Haiti - my inbox started filling up with emails from various Muslim organizations across North America to remind me of what this tragedy is all about and what my obligations as a Muslim to others are. Here are a few examples.
President of Islamic Society of North American (ISNA), Dr. Ingrid Mattson said:
As Muslims, we believe that human suffering is not always explainable or understandable. We do know that innocent people suffer all the time, from sickness and natural disaster, and that in such cases, we are required to do two things: First, pray and remember, as the Qur’an says that “to God we belong and to Him we return.” Second, we must help those who are suffering. The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, reported in a Sacred Hadith[Prophetic Saying] that if we want to be close to God, we should visit the sick and feed the needy. On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will say, “O son of Adam, I fell ill and you did not visit me.” The person will say, “O Lord, how could I visit you when You are the Lord of the worlds?” He will say, “Did you not know that So-and-so fell ill and you did not visit him? If you had visited him, you would have found Me with him [the hadith continues].”
Islamic Center of Minnesota sent an email reminding Muslims:
According to Quran and Hadith, all Muslims are required to help humanity who is suffering irrespective of their faith. First and foremost, this is an obligation for us and second it is a great opportunity to show others our religious obligations.
IslamicRelief has announced that it is teaming up with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to give $1 million in aid to the survivors of the earthquake. Naeem Muhammad of Islamic Relief (and Native Deen singer) left the US on Saturday for Haiti to assist with the relief efforts.
Today, January 17th, Islamic Relief, SeekersGuidance, Relief Works, MSA National, and Fawakih Institute will be hosting an emergency online fundraiser for the survivors of the Haiti earthquake. The online fundraiser is scheduled at 2pm EST. Many influential leaders will use this fundraiser to encourage Muslims to fulfil their obligations to God by helping out their fellow brethren in humanity.
The Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) said: “Allah is in the aide of His servant as long as His servant is in the aide of others…”
I am very proud of these efforts and the many rallying emails that I continue to receive both as a way of reminder and an opportunity for growth.
As I continued to read on the earthquake - one article really touched me alot and stirred me to spiritually reflect. Today, I read that despite the horror, pain and suffering in this massive earthquake, that Haitians praise God after apocalyptic quake.
"Why give thanks to God? Because we are here," Rev Toussaint said. "We say 'Thank you God.' What happened is the will of God. We are in the hands of God now."
"I watched the destruction of the cathedral from this window," he said, pointing to a window in what remains of the archdiocese office. "I am not dead because God has a plan for me."
"What happens is a sign from God, saying that we must recognize his power - we need to reinvent ourselves,"
To me, this is a sign of real strength and true manifestation of faith. I truly admire it, however, I am not sure if I would pass such a test of faith. As I reflect more on the situation, I realize what we may give Haitians in money; they gave in return more than all our efforts combined by showing us by example the reality of gratitude, submission and humility before God. It may feel like we are giving to them, but in reality we are the ones on the receiving end by getting a needed lesson to embrace the reality of our existence.
This earthquake to me is a wakeup call. I see it as, regardless how much we empower ourselves, that empowerment is all an illusion. In reality, we are weak, and solutions that solve our problems must be embedded by embracing our mortality, vulnerability and humility before God. I wonder if we were hit with such a massive earthquake and with very little resources to survive in the aftermath, would we or I, rise out of the rubble praising God?
Others may disagree with this view, which is fine. I only wish to share my views. However, we wish to look at this event - we can all act on our own faith, values and conviction and respond to the numerous calls around the country by the many organizations rallying support for Haiti. You can do it in the spirit of giving, or you can do it recognizing in reality you are the one really receiving a gift.