Skip to comments.Faiths unite in South Florida to help Haiti
Posted on 01/26/2010 3:33:22 PM PST by greyfoxx39
On Saturday, Pierre, a Christian from Miramar, found himself among shouts of Arabic prayers as he packed boxes of canned goods in a Miami Gardens warehouse, affixing stickers to packages that read ``Muslim Americans Help Haiti.''
``I found out through a friend who sent me a link on Facebook,'' said Pierre, 21, who attended the Haiti volunteer day headed by local Muslim groups. `It was just another way to help.''
The earthquake has brought an outpouring of response from South Florida's religious community. While large-scale efforts among specific denominations have gotten much attention, many smaller faith groups have joined together for relief efforts. Leaders say faith commands them to help and when disaster hits, theological differences go out the door. Those working on relief include Scientologists, who flew a group from Miami to Port-au-Prince last week, and Mormons and Muslims, who have teamed to send supplies.
``Some people think we should only work with our own, but our prophet said to work with all,'' said Sofian Abdelaziz Zakkout, head of American Muslims for Emergency and Relief, a North Miami Beach organization that organized Saturday's effort with the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Last week, the national Church of Scientology chartered a 168-seat aircraft from Miami International Airport to Port-au-Prince that carried doctors, Mormon volunteers and Scientology relief workers, including a handful from South Florida.
``No matter what religion, what creed, it's our duty to help in situations like these,'' said Mercedes Alvarez, a Miami Scientologist who helped organize the effort. The flight included ``volunteer ministers'' who have been using Scientology physical therapy techniques to assist victims, but Alvarez said there were no plans to proselytize.
On Friday, Tony Burns, who serves as an elder in South Florida's 15,000-member Mormon population, toured a warehouse of 160,000 pounds of tents and supplies his church headquarters in Salt Lake City was delivering from to Haiti via workers from Islamic Relief USA.
``It's not what you may expect, but good people must come together to alleviate suffering,'' said Burns, who said he was interested in teaming with local Muslims to collect donations and goods.
On a smaller level, Beth Torah Jewish schools in Aventura are joining this week with Amor en Accíon, a Catholic lay group, to collect supplies, from food to medicine, for Haiti.
``I knew help was needed and this was the right resource,'' said Kathy Pierre of Miami Lakes, an Amor en Accíon member who is Jewish.
The weekend after the earthquake, Rabbi Eliot Pearlson of Temple Menorah on Miami Beach stood in front of the congregation at Church of the Open Door in Liberty City, preaching on the Book of Exodus, relating the suffering of the ancient Israelites to that of Haitians. Already involved in interfaith work, he was scheduled to speak at the church as part of a Martin Luther King Jr. Day activity, but changed his sermon to encourage donations to Haiti through the Greater Miami Jewish Federation.
``We look at our brothers and sisters in Haiti,'' he said, ``and unless we want to be counted among the people who sit and do nothing, you have to work like God did and bring people out of their misery.''
I can’t help but wonder if the Greater mentions of the Scientologists and the Muslims actions are somehow a subliminal-”prosyletizing” of the gullible, a-religious population that is following the Haiti disaster.
The statement about giving aid to non muslims intrigued me.
So I looked up some muslim teaching on it. Found this:
Imaam al-Shaafa’i said: “There is nothing wrong with giving charity to a
mushrik as a naafilah (supererogatory) action, but he has no right to charity
from the obligatory (zakaah). Allaah praised people who, as He says
(interpretation of the meaning): ‘. they give food, inspite of their love for
it (or for the love of Him), to the Miskeen (the poor), the orphan, and the
captive’ [al-Insaan 76:8].” (Kitaab al-Umm, part 2).
Giving charity to poor Muslims is preferable and more befitting, because
spending on them helps them to obey Allaah, and it helps them in both their
worldly and spiritual affairs. This helps to strengthen the bonds among
Muslims, especially nowadays when the poor among the Muslims far outnumber the
rich. And Allaah is the One Whose help we seek.
2 - If the person who is asking for the money is Muslim and is definitely in
need, then give him what you can in charity. The same applies even if he is
not Muslim. But it is better for Muslims who are in need to refrain from
begging in the streets. If they have no other choice, they should go to Islamic
charity organizations which exist to channel charitable donations to the poor
and needy. By the same token, those who want to give charity can also contact
reliable charitable organizations so that their charity will reach those who
For context, here are some of the verses that guide Christian charitable giving:
The parable is found in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 10, verses 25-37.
One day an expert habib in religious law stood up to test Jesus by asking him this question: Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus replied, What does the law of Moses say? How do you read it?
The man answered, You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind. And, Love your neighbor as yourself.
Right! Jesus told him. Do this and you will live! The man wanted to justify his actions, so he asked Jesus, And who is my neighbor?
Jesus then replied with a story:
A Jewish man was traveling on a trip from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he was attacked by bandits. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead beside the road. By chance a (Jewish) priest came along. But when he saw the man lying there, he crossed to the other side of the road and passed him by. A levite walked over and looked at him lying there, but he also passed by on the other side.
Then a despised Samaritan (an enemy of the Jews)came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him.
The next day he handed the innkeeper two silver coins, telling him, Take care of this man. If his bill runs higher than this, Ill pay you the next time Im here.
Now which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits? Jesus asked. The man replied, The one who showed him mercy.
Then Jesus said, Yes, now go and do the same.