Abubakar N. Kasim
The atmosphere during the Friday sermon at the International Muslims Organization in Toronto was different.
Prior to the sermon, worshippers were shown images of the devastation of the Earthquake in Haiti.
These images were perhaps meant to make everyone ponder and reflect about what had taken place in that part of the world.
They were were also displayed to probably softern the hearts in reflection of the devastation that had taken place.
The large screen was continuously flashing with different images of the dead lying on the street, people wounded and children looking towards the camera as if they were directly appealing to the viewer’s conscious to respond to the voice of despair and destitute.
Sadness in the congregation was overwhelming as if the catastrophe was happening right then.
Imam Ayman Taher in the sermon reminded the congregation about the Muslim’s duty to help the suffering regardless of religion and color.
He had urged the community to do whatever they can to alleviate the suffering of their fellow brethrens in Haiti. A Muslim should reflect in these kinds of tragedies, he had argued, as life is full of tests and tribulations one ought to reflect upon.
IMO was among many organizations in Canada which has stood up to the challenge to help the victims of this immense human tragedy.
Omar Farouk, IMO President mentioned in an interview that the center has “taken the leadership role and once again had risen to the occasion in raising so far almost $7 000 dollars.
“This fundraising drive will continue until next Friday, he added.
IMO has always been at the forefront when it comes to helping the needy and responds to human needs in a prompt and quick manner.
Friday was dedicated throughout North America to help the victims of the Haiti catastrophe that had befallen upon one of the poorest nations on earth.
Dr. Ingrid Mattson, the head of the largest Muslim organization in North America, ISNA, had appealed to the community to dedicate Friday sermons on Jan 15 for the victims of the earthquake.
“This Friday, I ask Imams, Khateebs, and other Muslim leaders to share the message of religious sincerity and compassion with their communities. We need to discuss the significance of the collective obligation to help the poor and needy, to ensure that we go beyond occasional charity to help reform oppressive social and economic structures,” she added.
Dr. Mattson has also added that ““Helping the Haitians in this time of need is certainly a sign of religious sincerity.”
ISNA had also sets up Haiti Aid Fund and had urged the American Muslims to help the victims of this disaster.
“Hundreds of thousands of people may have been killed and injured after a deadly earthquake struck Port-au-Prince, Haiti,” read the urgent news release by ISNA. “The 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck shortly before 5 p.m. Tuesday, centered about 10 miles (15 kilometres) southwest of Port-au-Prince, the U.S. Geological Survey reported. It could be felt strongly in eastern Cuba, more than 200 miles away.”
A handful of organizations in Canada have released a joint appeal to the community to rise to the occasion and show the world that Muslims do indeed care.
Among such organizations are Human Concerns International Canada, Canadian Council of Imams, ICNA Relief, Canadian Islamic Congress, International Development and Relief Foundation IDRF, Islamic Institute of Toronto, IRFAN Canada, Muslim Council of Calgary, Islamic Relief Canada and many others.
Dr. Hamid Slimi, Imam of Sayeda Khadija Center and a chairman of the Canadian Council of Imams stated, “"It is our human, natural and Islamic duty to contribute with whatever means we can to make some difference"
“This is one chance where all faith groups could show the best of their teachings and how the latter become practical in reality. We cannot just stand and watch without doing our share. We must do something whether individually or collectively as we did in the aftermath of the Tsunami a few years ago."
And according to the Coast Reporters, January 13, “Islamic Relief USA, America's largest Muslim relief organization, said it would fly a $1 million shipment of aid, to be co-ordinated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
Muslims in Calgary also did their share in the face of the calamity. Calgary Sun reported about the Muslim Council of Calgary’s call for the 60,000 Muslims to answer the call and stand up for the humanitarian cause. A headline on January 14 read Calgary Muslims launch Haiti aid campaign.
"It's a responsibility to help out people in need," Dr. David Liepert, the spokesperson of the organization told the Calgary Sun. "We'll never forget how the world reached out to the Muslim people in Sumatra after the earthquake and the tsunami,” he added.