HOUSTON – When the rains came, the Islamic Clear Lake Center south of Houston, Texas, was spared the worst of it, the building suffering only a few roof leaks amidst the devastating effects of Hurricane Harvey, a whopper of a storm that drenched and destroyed wide swaths of Houston and the southern Texas coast.
However, when the rains stopped, congregants and mosque officials, quickly realizing many others weren’t so fortunate, sprang into action.
“We told people that if they had nowhere else to go they could come here,” Hamza Reed, the mosque’s administrator, told AboutIslam.net.
Reed added that the mosque also set up a 24-hour medical hotline should anyone have any health problems or questions and couldn’t travel to a hospital or clinic.
Others followed suit.
Brand Lane Islamic Center in Houston converted its prayer and school buildings into a shelter where they offered meals, toiletries, clothing and bathing facilities.
Hurricane victims could also take advantage of free medical services from an on-site doctor and psychologist.
“Anything you need or may have forgotten or didn’t have the space to bring it, it’s here,” said Husna Kadri, at Brand Lane Islamic Center.
Several other mosques, including Houston’s Islamic Education Center and Masjid Al Salam, welcomed those who required emergency shelter from the storm.
The outpouring of help and humanity can’t be overestimated.
Now with the hurricane a week past and `Eid Al-Adha only recently come and gone, mosque officials and members throughout the Greater Houston Area are looking to spread and continue the sacrificial and generous spirit of `Eid al-Adha as they move forward to assist not only their fellow Muslims in recovery but anyone who was impacted by Harvey.
“We are looking to long-term relief now,” said Masrur Javed Khan, president of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston.
“We will not rest until these people who are displayed are out of this misery.”
This message of generosity was preached throughout Houston-area mosques during `Eid al-Adha services. Congregants who were urged to share their sacrificial meat offerings with those most in need or to volunteer their services or donate their money to storm relief.
The Clear Lake Islamic Center is taking that message to heart and partnered with a neighboring church to collect and distribute donations to groups and organizations that have a need.
Other groups are doing the same.
Following `Eid prayers on Friday, several young men with the Ahmadiyya Community USA’s youth group took to Houston streets to help clear away debris and assist with clean up.
Thousands of the city’s homes were damaged, many of them owned by elderly people who struggle to do the work themselves.
At the George R. Brown Convention Center, which normally hosts thousands of Muslims for `Eid prayers, this `Eid al-Adha space is filled with thousands of evacuees who were forced to leave their home in Harvey’s wake.
There, Muslim evacuees and volunteers alike didn’t let their dire situations stop them for offering their prayers. Instead, they created their own personal prayer space amidst the cots, piles of donations and people milling about.
In mosques that were serving as both prayer space and shelter on `Eid, officials made sure they would not be bothered as Muslims filled the mosque for services.
“(Evacuees) won’t be disturbed,” Khan of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston said.
“People who come, if they have to pray in the parking lot they’ll pray in the parking lot.”
Muslims from other parts of Texas have shifted into gear as well. In Dallas, more than 300 volunteers answered the call from Islamic Relief when the nonprofit organization offered volunteer training.
Also, several Houston-area mosques reported fellow Muslims from areas like San Antonio and Austin have landed in Houston to help, soliciting, collecting and transporting the donations themselves.
In the wake of this horrible tragedy that is Hurricane Harvey, there is no shortage of compassion and the sacrificial and generous spirit of `Eid al-Adha only served to intensify that outpouring of human love.