American Muslim Community Raising Money to Rebuild Burned Churches
On June 17th a lone gunman entered a traditionally black church and shot 9 parishioners in cold blood. In the next several days eight black churches were burned. It is unknown if these burnings are related, and authorities have not labelled any of these crimes as a hate crime. The fact remains that many people have lost their church home, in a time when they may need it more than ever.
Enter the Muslim community and their Respond With Love campaign, a group who has also suffered from the effects of hate and ignorance. This is their season of Ramadan, a time of fasting, prayer, and reflection. They were moved by the plight of so many church members being without a church, many with inadequate insurance, and decided to do something about it.
“It’s Ramadan, and we are experiencing firsthand the beauty and sanctity of our mosques during this holy month. All houses of worship are sanctuaries, a place where all should feel safe,” the coalition of Muslim groups wrote on their LaunchGood page. The coalition includes the US Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative, the Arab American Association of New York, and the online Ummah Wide, and has raised almost $25,000 already, with over 500 individual donations. The collection will continue until July 18, 2015, and be given according to need to the 8 churches.
In an email Linda Sarsour, executive director of AAANY said, “It doesn’t matter to us how or why these churches burned down, we want to help our Black sisters and brothers get back in to their houses of worship as soon as they can. Ramadan is a time of giving and what better cause to give to than one that rebuilds houses of worship where God’s name is constantly called, remembered, and loved.”
On the fundraising page itself Imam Zaid Shakir wrote, “The American Muslim community cannot claim to have experienced anything close to the systematic and institutionalized racism and racist violence that has been visited upon African Americans. We do, however, understand the climate of racially inspired hate and bigotry that is being reignited in this country. We want to let our African American brothers and sisters know that we stand in solidarity with them during this dark hour.”
As many as 5 churches are deliberately burned every week, these particular churches are in the news more because of the shootings so close to the same time and geographically close as well. So far three of the eight fires are believed to be arson, the FBI continues to investigate all of the church fires, they will determine who is responsible and why.
Any time churches of different religions can draw together for the common good shows true brotherhood and love, something we often wish to learn in church. What a beautiful example of love and brotherhood for all.